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Comptroller Liu Recommends Reform of Mayoral Control and Strengthened Standards for Top Education Job; Highlights Bloomberg's Failures

A new report by the office of Comptroller John Liu recommends that all future New York City Schools Chancellors have substantial educational credentials. All three Schools Chancellors named by Mayor Bloomberg required state waivers because they failed to satisfy basic education requirements for the job.

"When people are asked if the Schools Chancellor should be an educator by background, they commonly answer, 'Of course! In fact, it ought to be the law,'" Comptroller Liu said. "Well, it turns out it is State law. The Chancellor should be an educator, pure and simple. Waivers should not be routinely sought."

The report, "No More Rubber Stamp," makes recommendations for reforming the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which was intended to provide a check and balance to the Mayor's overall control, and sets out 15 common-sense educational, managerial, and personal criteria for the Chancellor position. The criteria build from the present City standards for school-district superintendents, envisioning the Chancellor as a "superintendent of superintendents." Download the report here:

"A more substantive PEP can only strengthen school governance to improve the quality of education. A PEP that is not merely a rubber stamp will restore the accountability that was always the goal of mayoral control," Comptroller Liu said.

The report points out that current Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and former Chancellors Cathleen Black and Joel Klein each lacked crucial educational credentials, such as prior experience in running a large city school district and at least 10 years of successful experience as an educator.

The report, part of Comptroller Liu's "Beyond High School NYC" initiative, also looked at the Mayor's interactions with the PEP and proposes changes in the way members of the PEP are selected so that the panel is less of a mayoral rubber stamp and more responsive to community and educational stakeholders. It proposes the creation of a PEP nominating committee, fixed and secure terms for PEP members, stipends and staff support for the PEP, a PEP veto on Chancellor nominations, and an end to the State waiver of unqualified Chancellor selections.

"It's clear that the current form of centralized mayoral control under Michael Bloomberg has not worked. There are many approaches we should consider to create more checks and balances, and this report puts forth some creative suggestions that could help make the system more democratic and more responsive to parents," said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers.

"'No More Rubber Stamp' is another thoughtful education report from the Comptroller's office, this one exploring much needed improvements to the PEP. It recommends possible steps that might add legitimacy and independence to a potentially important panel that currently has no muscle at all," said Ernest A. Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.

"The New York City Parents Union has been at the forefront of the fight to reform the Panel for Educational Policy, including introducing legislation to change the PEP's composition. We thank Comptroller Liu for recognizing the undemocratic nature of the PEP and applaud his efforts to include parents and communities in his recommendations. These PEP reforms will put thepublic back in public education," said Mona Davids, President of the New York City Parents Union.

"There is the widespread concern about the functioning of the PEP, and this report starts the discussion with an interesting proposal. It is a very important discussion that needs to be had," said Joseph P. Viteritti, Thomas Hunter Professor of Public Policy and Chair, Department of Urban Affairs & Planning at Hunter College, CUNY.

"It's clear that John Liu believes and respects the value of parent and community voices when it comes to education in New York City. He has engaged in a thoughtful proposal that would offer a larger voice to those constituents, much different than what we are currently experiencing," said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education.

"This study has essentially solved the dilemma of how to conduct mayoral control of education in a fair and democratic manner. There is always more that can be done, but restructuring the PEP to be an independent, education-oriented body is essential, and that is what has been done here," said Chris Owens, Brooklyn education advocate and former President of Community School Board 13.


The "Beyond High School NYC" initiative seeks to increase the proportion of New Yorkers with a college degree to 60 percent by the year 2025 through strategic investments in public education. It consists of "No More Rubber Stamp" and two earlier reports:


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