From sunset to sunrise

Sometimes you have to take one step backward to go two steps forward.
That's more or less what happened in New York State when the clock
struck midnight on July 1, the long-scheduled date for "sunset" of
mayoral control of Gotham's schools. The State Assembly had done its
part and passed a bill that kept Mayor Michael Bloomberg in charge of
the nation's largest school district, as he has been for the last seven
years. But then, the State Senate--or, more specifically, Democrat John
Sampson--staged a political stand-off that left the Senate unable to
vote on the bill before the clock ran out. The vote's deadline came and
went; sunset indeed fell; and at 1 p.m on July 1, five borough
representatives, a few Bloomberg deputies, and hizzoner himself convened
to resurrect the New York City Board of Education. Ironically, by
slamming on the voting brakes, Senator Sampson ceded more control to the
mayor, at least for now, than the current bill languishing on his desk
would vest in City Hall, since Bloomberg's crew was delighted to
immediately sign power back over to him and reappoint Joel Klein as
chancellor. And with the help of those cooperative borough presidents
and supportive new board members (and the abandonment of scare-tactic rhetoric),
Bloomberg and Klein opened summer school for 120,000 students without a
hitch. Whether mayoral control of the Big Apple's schools has been a
success remains a topic of much contention. But certainly, state
lawmakers owe it to the city to make a decision.

"Senate Impasse Forces City to Revive Old School Board, in Name," by Javier C. Hernandez, New York Times, July 1, 2009

"Mike nails class clowns, boosts school control with new ed board," by David Seifman, Carl Campanile, and Brendan Scott, New York Post, July 2, 2009

More By Author