Mayoral Control Links and Thoughts

I haven’t had much time to blog lately and the items are piling up, so it is time to catch up a little.  Here are some links to and comments on some relatively recent items on Mayoral control.

From the Chicago Tribune, Chicago school board begins 2nd internal investigation.”

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s handpicked Board President has committed suicide, his handpicked Board is under investigation for misuse of funds for the second time and has refused to release documents requested by the media.  That’s good management and open governance Chicago style.  That’s the model that Arne Duncan and Jim Doyle want to bring to Wisconsin.

Advocates for Mayoral control keep telling us that the change increases accountability by giving ultimate responsibility to a single elected individual –  the Mayor.  I have yet to hear of an instance or see a poll that indicates any Mayor in a Mayoral control district’s election has been decided by their management of the schools; I know that Mayor Daley will continue to be re-elected no matter what happens with the schools.   That’s not accountability.

A lot is happening with the resistance to mayoral control in Milwaukee.  Here’s a video on some of it:

Henry Hamilton of the NAACP Executive Committee and Christine Neumann-Ortiz — executive director of Voces de la Frontera — had a good recent column in the Journal-Sentinel: “In takeover, your vote silenced.”

Friend of AMPS and former candidate for State Superintendent Todd Allan Price has a long piece at CounterPunch that is worth the time: “Milwaukeeans vs. the Privatization Pandemic: Milwaukee League Comes to the Defense of Public Schools.”

Todd and I also co-wrote a Jerry Bracey inspired piece for FightingBob that includes some things on Mayoral control: “Bracey’s last stand

Dominique Paul Noth’s lengthy “Barrett’s ‘cynical’ decision puts city Dems in bind” at the Milwaukee Area Labor Council is also worth the time spent.

Meanwhile the education DINO elite insider organization Democrats for Education Reform (DEF) has opened a Wisconsin office staffed by political lifer, convicted thief (see the Wisconsin State Journal, August 20, 2002), former strip club and school voucher PR flack Katy Venskus.

Alan J. Borsuk has a post up contrasting a recent DER event with the unanimous testimony against mayoral control at a recent public hearing.

Borsuk also covered Mayoral control researcher turned advocate Kenneth K. Wong’s recent visit to the state.  At the event and in the interview on WPT’s “Here and Now” below Wong offers a lot of double talk about elections and accountability, simplistically equating higher turnout at Mayoral elections with greater accountability on education matters.  This is only true if education is a decisive issue, otherwise it is nonsense.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
I think this quote from the Borsuck piece is revealing on how much Wong cares about keeping the public in public education:

It is best to have public support for mayoral control, he said, but it can still work even if it’s passed over major opposition.

“Nothing is easy,” he said. As for Milwaukee, he said, “It has to happen fast. . . . They should make it effective January 1.”

This crisis mentality is dangerous, especially when we are talking about a reform that by Wong’s own calculations will have a minimal impact on education in Milwaukee.  In his book The Education Mayor the achievement gap between Milwaukee and the rest of the state is pegged at 2.4 standard deviations; his research shows that “strong” mayoral control has produced gains of .2 to .33 standard deviations.  Accepting his data and the causality, that means that the best case Mayoral control scenario leaves Milwaukee students over 2 standard deviations behind the state.  As Wong himself states, “This is not a silver bullet.” So why the hurry?

In a not unrelated matter, people concerned about accountability should be talking about DINO Reform poster girl and DC Superintendent Michelle Rhee’s effort to intervene in an Inspector General’s investigation of her fiance, the charter school operator and now Mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson.  The IG was subsequently fired by the accountability loving Obama administration.  Links here and here.

Thomas J. Mertz

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Filed under Accountability, Arne Duncan, education, Gimme Some Truth, Local News, National News, Uncategorized

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