2008-03-21 / Letters

Mayoral Control and DOE

Dear Editor,

I am writing to voice my serious concern with mayoral control and the present NYC school governance system. Mayoral control sunsets in 2009 and I would like to see it eliminated. Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have not used this authority to the betterment of our schools, nor has student performance improved significantly.

I am a proud parent of two daughters and a product of the NYC Public Education system in District 27 being a graduate of PS 60, MS 210 and John Adams High School.

I also am the former District 27 representative to the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council (CPAC), the former Co-President of the MS 210 Parents Association in Ozone Park and present member of my daughter's Parents Association board and a member of the Community Board 10 Education Committee.

I recently gave testimony before the New York City Council and at a hearing held by the United Federation of Teachers on the mayoral control in our schools, which I summarize as follows:

I feel the six year experiment with mayoral control of the NYC Department of Education has not achieved improved student performance.

Mayoral control has eliminated the public election of community oversight bodies (school boards), which violated the basic human rights of our communities and parents to participate in their children's education.

I believe that the development of a whole child requires the reinstitution of the Arts, Music, Physical Education (gym), student government and the teaching of basic American civics - so students can learn how a basic democracy works, so they can make intelligent political decisions in their own and their family's

Letters self interest as adults and concerned citizens.

I call for the Elimination of the NYPD presence in the schools, which I feel creates a prison-like atmosphere in our schools… as the NYCLU has also noted, in its determined effort to bring these official vigilantes under control, "this massive presence would make the NYPD's school safety division the fifth largest police force in the country - larger than [those of] Washington, D.C., Detroit, Boston, or Las Vegas."

I feel that we should put Educators back into Tweed Courthouse and not corporate "media spin doctors" who misinform the citizenry about the problem in our schools.

Mayoral control has resulted in costly no-bid contracts… which have taken vast amounts of money from the classrooms and into large corporate coffers.

Mayoral control has ignored the basic human rights of our children and had a major negative impact on an entire generation of students' elementary school experience; all of which has been driven by high stakes testing and constant test preparation; limiting the scope and depth of a comprehensive curriculum; lack of fulfilling special education mandates; and constant upheaval causing high anxiety.

I believe that New York City Council members should have authority to monitor schools within their district. "I demand that our elected officials and

our Queens contingency of New York State legislators respond to this educational catastrophe and malfeasance by eliminating Mayoral control and remodeling the school system based on a human rights framework with a governance plan which incorporates local autonomy, school based decision making, parent and community involvement with strict oversight by independent bodies and the City Council. I appreciate this opportunity to speak out on behalf of the children and parents of Queens public schools.

DAVID M. QUNITANA

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