Letters to the editor

To the Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2009

In regard to your editorial "Mayoral Control Makes the Grade" (March 6): The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) supports preserving the school governance law giving New York City's mayor control of the schools with modifications that improve and strengthen, not weaken the structure. Without question, mayoral control has brought more funding and credibility to the public education system, and it would be foolish to return to the system that existed prior to 2002. However, it would be equally foolish to simply keep the status quo and forgo this opportunity to make improvements.

Our proposal keeps what works about mayoral control while calling for a system that is more accountable, more transparent and more democratic. We propose significantly strengthening and upgrading the Panel for Education Policy so parents and educators have a voice and a place to turn when they have concerns that need to be addressed. Schools cannot effectively be controlled by one person, no matter how talented that person may be. A system of checks and balances is crucial in order to help New York City Public Schools flourish.

Unfortunately, there are people who are so entrenched in the old battles between policy makers and labor that they fail to see that we have moved beyond past skirmishes and are working together for our city's kids. Our recommendations stem from powerful, empirical evidence. We know that schools where parents are engaged and chose to be involved are inherently stronger. Research has also proven that schools that foster collaboration and reflect and value the true voice of the staff have better student outcomes. When the mayor champions transparency and fosters advice and consent from the duly appointed and elected policy boards, his authority becomes unassailable and the entire governance system embodies credibility.

Randi Weingarten
President
United Federation of Teachers
New York

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