Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bloomberg's Reforms for NYC 2.0

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is at it again proposing further reforms for New York City schools. In the works this time are more autonomy for principals and more a equitable funding scheme. The other major proposal involves pension negotiations. Currently Albany sets pensions for NYC teachers. Bloomberg would make pension decisions a part of the regular NYC contract negotiations. The New York Times quotes Bloomberg, "It’s time for Albany to stop playing Santa Claus with the city’s money."

The first two reforms in Bloomberg's package could help some. Words of caution about the first measure to grant hiring and tenure authority to building level leaders: you can give these principals a lot more power, but you better make sure they are dynamic, dynamite, and conscientious leaders who can balance the sometimes incongruous demands of providing exceptional support for their teachers, making sure student needs are being met, and responding to parents and community concerns. In short, firing and hiring of principals must happen first before the firing and hiring of teachers.

Regarding the other reform, equitable distributions of funding by factoring experienced teachers salaries into the equation. This one has been too long overlooked. A fine report by the Education Trust, California’s Hidden Teacher Spending Gap: How State and District Budgeting Practices Shortchange Poor and Minority Students and Their Schools also suggests this approach to school funding is long overdue.

As for pension negotiations set by the city, that would take some work and approval by Albany. Not going to happen, EE odds 7/2.

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