School Debate Heats Up As Legislative Session Winds Down,
from NY1, cable news station, May 27, 2009:
Lawmakers in Albany have just over a month to decide whether Mayor Bloomberg can keep control over city schools, a task that may prove more challenging as politics and personalities collide. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg wasn't in the state capital this week, but still he cast a long and not always flattering shadow.
Never huge fans of the mayor to begin with, lawmakers say eight years of Bloomberg's business-school style politics is giving them pause as they debate renewing his control of public schools.
"I support mayoral control, but I don't support mayoral dictatorship," said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.
"There are numerous examples - and it does speak to a certain style which is obviously a closely held corporation," said Assemblywoman Deborah Glick.
Complaints crescendoed Tuesday night at a secret Assembly sitdown, where sources say, Democrats unleashed complaints and bruised feelings, with one even calling the Independent an egomaniac.
As evidence, accusations resurfaced of being strongarmed on congestion pricing, along with complaints about his handling of the flu scare.
The Assembly's education chair, Cathy Nolan, disputed the tone Wednesday.
"In any given conference, you're always going to have a lot of diverse opinions. There are 95 people in that room. But I think that we're on target to try to do something positive," said Nolan.
After seeing many a dream die in Albany, this time Bloomberg may get much of what he's after. Gripes notwithstanding from rank-and-file, Albany leaders are backing his central plan, with some tweaks.
There's also little talk about forcing the ouster of Chancellor Joel Klein, whose firing was once thought to be a price for renewed control.
In the meantime, Bloomberg continues to sound optimistic.
"You gotta give credit to the Speaker and education chair, Cathy Nolan, for trying to address the issue. I think everybody understands schools are going in the right direction," said Bloomberg.
"The system's transcends any individual. One of the things we've said over and over and over again is parents should have an involvement in the education of their children," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The Speaker's framework has two parent appointees on a schools board, and boosts oversight of test data and school budgets. Terms for board appointees, however, are still up in the air.