2002-06-15 / Editorial/Opinion

Putting It All In Perspective

Putting It All In Perspective

With the exception of those on local school boards, everybody seems equally happy and relieved about all of changes that have been made on the school scene in the past week. Let us count the ways. The mayor is very happy. He gets "control" of the school system and the right to pick his own chancellor. He gets a new central board of education of 13 members and he gets to choose eight of them. The other five are chosen by the borough presidents, but it is unclear whether their choices must be parents of students in the borough's schools. Bloomberg has done something that every mayor for the past 15 years has wanted to do but could not. He is on top. Will he still be on top three years from now, when his control has made little difference in school performance? We will have to wait and see. If he is rolling the dice by gambling his credibility on reforming the school system and making a massive difference in performance, then he will most likely come up snake eyes. The teachers are also big winners, despite Randi Weingarten's bumbling leadership. The starting Salary for teachers will rise to $39 thousand per year from $28, while teachers at the top will now earn $81,231, more than $10 thousand more than the old high of $70 thousand. Those who want to can earn extra money by performing cafeteria duty and patrolling the hallways. That should make school marginally safer and quieter places. Of course, teachers will have to work 20 minutes more each day, with the district superintendent deciding how that time will be spent. The only losers in this scenario are the local school boards, and, by extension, parents. The local school board will be phased out over the next school year. While that is happening, somebody is supposed to come up with a way that parents will be able to access the system without going through the central board. That will probably not happen. The local school boards will disappear and parents will have no place to go to express their grievances but the bureaucrats at the central board, who care not at all for teachers, parents or kids. Sure, on the whole, the changes made this week are positive and they move the system in the right direction. Are they the be-all and end-all that will make school performance bloom? Probably not. With a little luck and a lot of hard work on the part of all concerned, however, this week's changes may well set up a framework that will provide the impetus to change down the line.


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