2002-09-07 / Editorial/Opinion

A New Year With A New Team

A New Year With A New Team

The fact is, nobody is quite sure what this school year will bring. We hate to use a metaphor like "This is a new ballgame," in this spot, but that is just what it is. First of all, we have a new governance plan that puts the mayor in the driver’s seat, something that previous mayors have begged for but never attained. The mayor has chosen a new School Chancellor who has a great resume but knows nothing about education or about the sprawling city school system. Some say that there is a positive aspect to the choice of a lawyer rather than an educator, but we are not sure that is true. That depended largely on whom he picked as his chief advisors. They have to know the territory since he does not. It does not gladden our hearts that only one of those he chose as his advisors has any school experience, and that woman ran a district that is far smaller than District 27. It is hard to understand how he could have chosen a more unlikely group of people to run the largest school system in the nation. The new governance bill says that the chancellor has the right to pick district superintendents. In the past, the local school boards at least had the right to recommend names to the chancellor and he had to pick from those names. Even that small power had been taken from the soon to be defunct boards. The Justice Department ruled on Tuesday that the chancellor has the power to chose superintendents, that the new law does not diminish the power of minority voters. It is hard to understand how they could make such a ruling. We are not sure that taking the power from the elected boards (no matter how many people elected them) and giving it to a single person is a good idea. There is a new teacher’s contract and many of the more experienced teachers will leave before this year or in June. There are inexperienced principals supervising the majority of our district’s schools. There have been no definitive changes that impact on the safety and discipline issues. There is one upside to the contract and that is the fact that many experienced parochial school teachers have migrated to the public system to earn three times as much as they can in the church schools. In any case, this could be a long year for our schools. We hope it is a successful one despite the possibilities for disaster.

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