2003-01-25 / Editorial/Opinion

New School Plan Worth A Try

The radical new school plan announced by Mayor Bloomberg last week shakes up the bureaucracy like nothing has in the past 100 years. We like most of it, although we have some reservations about the fact that one person will hold all of the power in a system as diverse as this one. We will not miss, however, the bloated bureaucracies of the district offices, whose minions often micromanaged the schools to death, killing off any hope of innovation and change. We will not miss the control that the politicians held over the system, unless, of course, the mayor decides to allow the members of the city council and the borough presidents to choose the parents that make up the new "Parent Engagement Committees (as the council has proposed)." We like the idea of one curriculum for all of the city’s schools, although there must be care to choose wisely. This district has, in the past, dictated curriculum and specific reading and literature text book series to the schools. The district has always chosen poorly. Many of the materials used in those series, costing millions of dollars, lay in school book rooms, never to see the light of day again. There are nagging questions, of course. Will the Parent Engagement Committees be selected or elected? Where will they meet? How will individual parents with a problem access those committees? Why were the Rockaway schools linked in a district with the mainland and with two disadvantaged areas in Brooklyn, rather than with the schools in Rosedale and Springfield Gardens, areas that are represented by the same politicians as Rockaway? We suppose those questions will be answered in time. We think, questions aside, that the new plan deserves a try. It could not work more poorly than decentralization, after all.

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