Government Lies, Corruption and Mismanagement
NYC Chancellor Joel Klein Must, According to Education Law, Have a Contract. He Doesn't. by Betsy Combier
Education Law 2590-h, which describes the powers and duties of the NYC Chancellor, says that the Chancellor "must" have a contract, but as parentadvocates found out, he has none. Thus the parents of NYC public school students cannot hold him accountable for anything he does, and neither can teachers. Also, the Community Education Councils are illegal.
Joel Klein is Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education, the nation's largest public school system. As Chancellor, he has certain duties that he must perform. At least that is what New York City parents believe.
In March, 2006, parentadvocates filed a Freedom of Information request of the Central Records Access officer of the NYC BOE Office of Legal Services, and we asked for Joel Klein's contract. In her reply, Susan Holtzman told us that Mr. Klein has no contract, and neither do any of the Superintendents, and other NYC BOE personnel at the administrative top of the ladder. She was kind enough to send us the contracts of two former Chancellors, Harold Levy and, before him, Rudy Crew. We encourage you to read the contracts we are posting below, as well as Ms. Holtzman's letter, to see what we, as parents of children in the NYC BOE public school system CANNOT do: protest Mr. Klein's actions, try to terminate his contract and get him removed, hold him accountable for breaking the terms of his contract, etc.
We suggest this is dangerous.
FOIL Response by the NYC BOE
Former Chancellor Harold Levy's Contract
Former Chancellor Rudy Crew's contract
Education Law 2590-h has many duties for our chancellor to perform, but without a contract, what happens if he does not obey the law? Your guess is as good as ours.
Education Law 2590
* § 2590-h. Powers and duties of chancellor. The office of chancellor of the city district is hereby continued. Such chancellor shall serve at the pleasure of and be employed by the mayor of the city of New York by contract. The length of such contract shall not exceed by more than two years the term of office of the mayor authorizing such contract. The chancellor shall receive a salary to be fixed by the mayor within the budgetary allocation therefor. He or she shall exercise all his or her powers and duties in a manner not inconsistent with the city-wide educational policies of the city board. The chancellor shall have the following powers and duties as the superintendent of schools and chief executive officer for the city district, which the chancellor shall exercise to promote an equal educational opportunity for all students in the schools of the city district, promote fiscal and educational equity, increase student achievement and school performance and encourage local school-based innovation, including the power and duty to:
1. Control and operate:
(a) academic and vocational senior high schools until such time as the same may be transferred to the jurisdiction of appropriate community district education councils pursuant to this article;
(b) all specialized senior high schools. The special high schools shall include the present schools known as:
The Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn Technical High School, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts in the borough of Manhattan, and such further schools which the city board may designate from time to time. The special schools shall be permitted to maintain a discovery program in accordance with the law in effect on the date preceding the effective date of this section; admissions to the special schools shall be conducted in accordance with the law in effect on the date preceding the effective date of this section;
(c) all special education programs and services conducted pursuant to this chapter;
(d) subject to the provisions of section twenty-five hundred ninety-i of this article, devolving powers to the schools, city-wide programs for city-wide services to a substantial number of persons from more than one community district, including transportation; food services; payroll and personnel functions, including pension and retirement services; and enforcement of laws and regulations promoting equal opportunity in employment, access to public accommodations and facilities, equal opportunity in education, and preventing and addressing unlawful discrimination; provided, however, that a community district may also operate within its district programs which provide similar services
otherwise authorized by this article.
2. Establish, control and operate new schools or programs of the types specified in subdivision one of this section, or to discontinue any such schools and programs as he or she may determine; provided, however, that the chancellor shall consult with the affected community district education council before:
(a) substantially expanding or reducing such an existing school or program within a community district;
(b) initially utilizing a community district school or facility for such a school or program;
(c) instituting any new program within a community district.
3. Subject to the approval of the city board, develop a plan to provide for the establishment of comprehensive high schools within the city district so that every community district shall have available to
its graduates further education and a comprehensive high school. Such plan may provide for the conversion of academic and vocational high schools and may be amended or modified from time to time.
4. Appoint teacher-aides for the schools and programs under his or her jurisdiction within the budgetary allocation therefor.
5. Retain jurisdiction over all employees who are required in connection with the performance of duties with respect to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of all school buildings in the
city school district. Such employees shall have all rights accorded them under the provisions of the civil service law, including manner of appointment, classification, promotion, transfer and removal including
an opportunity to be heard provided, however, that each custodian shall be responsible for the performance of his duties to the principal of the school who shall be responsible to the district superintendent.
6. Employ or retain counsel subject to the powers and duties of the corporation counsel of the city of New York to be his or her attorney and counsel pursuant to subdivision a of section three hundred
ninety-four of the New York city charter; provided, however, that in actions or proceedings between the city board or the chancellor and one or more community boards, the city board or the chancellor shall be represented by the corporation counsel of the city of New York.
7. To continue existing voluntary programs or to establish new programs under which students may choose to attend a public school in another community district.
8. Promulgate minimum clear educational standards, curriculum requirements and frameworks, and mandatory educational objectives applicable to all schools and programs throughout the city district, and examine and evaluate periodically all such schools and programs with respect to
(i) compliance with such educational standards and other requirements, and
(ii) the educational effectiveness of such schools and programs, in a manner not inconsistent with the policies of the city board.
9. Furnish community district education councils and the city board periodically with the results of such examinations and evaluations and to make the same public.
10. Require each community superintendent to make an annual report covering all matters relating to schools under the district's jurisdiction including, but not limited to, the evaluation of the educational effectiveness of such schools and programs connected therewith.
11. Require such community district education council or superintendent to make such number of periodic reports as may be necessary to accomplish the purposes of this chapter.
13. Perform the following functions throughout the city district; provided, however, that the chancellor and any community district education council may agree that any such function may be appropriately performed by the community district education council with respect to the schools and programs under its jurisdiction:
(a) Technical assistance to community districts and schools;
(b) Such warehouse space on a regional basis as he or she determines to be necessary or appropriate after consultation with the community superintendents;
(c) Purchasing services on a city-wide, regional or community district basis subject to subdivision thirty-six of this section;
(d) Reinforce and foster connections to institutions of higher education to promote student achievement.
14. Develop and furnish pre-service and in-service training programs for principals and other employees throughout the city district. In addition, the chancellor shall prepare and annually update a training plan for participating parents, and school personnel, which shall include, at minimum, such training as may be required for exercise of their responsibilities, full participation and compliance with the provisions of this section. The chancellor shall, in addition, within amounts appropriated, allocate sufficient funds directly and to the superintendents for teacher and principal training to meet identified needs for school improvement.
15. Promote the involvement and appropriate input of all members of the school community pursuant to the provisions of this article, including parents, teachers, and other school personnel, including:
(a) establishing a parents' association or a parent-teachers' association in each school under the chancellor's jurisdiction; and ensuring that the districts do the same;
(b) pursuant to a plan prepared in consultation with associations of parents, and representatives of teachers, supervisors, paraprofessionals and other school personnel within the city district, and promulgated no later than January thirty-first, nineteen hundred ninety-eight, (i) taking all necessary steps to ensure that no later than October first, nineteen hundred ninety-nine, the city district and the community districts are in full compliance, and remain in compliance thereafter, with state and federal law and regulations concerning school-based management and shared decision-making, including section 100.11 of the commissioner's regulations, in a manner which balances participation by
parents with participation by school personnel in advising in the decisions devolved to schools pursuant to sections twenty-five hundred ninety-i and twenty-five hundred ninety-r of this article, and (ii) pursuant to such plan providing for appropriate training to any parent and school personnel who participate in the school-based management and shared decision-making process;
(b-1) school based management teams developed pursuant to paragraph (b) of this subdivision shall possess the following powers and duties:
(i) develop an annual school comprehensive educational plan that is aligned with the school based budget. Such plan shall be submitted to the district superintendent and be made available for public inspection;
(ii) hold at least one meeting per month during the school year. Each monthly meeting shall be held at a time that is convenient for the parent representatives;
(iii) provide notice of monthly meetings that is consistent with the open meetings law;
(iv) have parent members of such teams make recommendations, consistent with the chancellor's regulations, on the selection of the school principal;
(v) undergo initial and ongoing training that will allow its members to carry out their duties effectively; and
(c) developing, in consultation with associations of parents in the city district, and implementing no later than October first, nineteen hundred ninety-eight, a parental bill of rights which provides for, at
(i) reasonable access by parents, persons in parental relation and guardians to schools, classrooms, and academic and attendance records of their own children, consistent with federal and state laws, provided that such access does not disrupt or interfere with the regular school process;
(ii) the rights of parents, persons in parental relation and guardians to take legal action and appeal the decisions of the school administration, as authorized by law;
(iii) the right of parents, persons in parental relation and guardians to have information on their own child's educational materials;
(iv) access to and information about all public meetings, hearings of the chancellor, the city board, the community superintendents, the community district education councils, and the schools; and
(v) access to information regarding programs that allow students to apply for admission where appropriate to schools outside a student's own attendance zone.
16. Promulgate such rules and regulations as he or she may determine to be necessary or convenient to accomplish the purposes of this act, not inconsistent with the provisions of this article and the city-wide educational policies of the city board.
16-a. Create standards, policies, and objectives and promulgate regulations directly related to maintaining the internal fiscal integrity of administrative operations by the chancellor, the community
districts, and the schools.
17. Possess those powers and duties described in section twenty-five hundred fifty-four of this title, the exercise of which shall be in a manner not inconsistent with the provisions of this article and the
city-wide educational policies of the city board.
18. Possess those powers and duties contained in section nine hundred twelve of this chapter and those provisions of article fifteen of this chapter which relate to non-public schools, those powers and duties contained in section five hundred twenty-two of the New York city charter, and those powers and duties contained in article seventy-three of this chapter, the exercise of which shall be in a manner not inconsistent with the provisions of this article and the city-wide educational policies of the city board.
19. Delegate any of his or her powers and duties to such subordinate officers or employees as he or she deems appropriate and to modify or rescind any power and duty so delegated.
20. Ensure compliance with qualifications established for all personnel employed in the city district, including the taking of fingerprints as a prerequisite for licensure and/or employment of such
personnel. Every set of fingerprints taken pursuant to this subdivision shall be promptly submitted to the division of criminal justice services where it shall be appropriately processed. Furthermore, the division of criminal justice services is authorized to submit the fingerprints to the federal bureau of investigation for a national criminal history record check.
21. Perform the functions of the bureau of audit throughout the city district, including ensuring compliance with subdivisions thirty-six and thirty-seven of this section.
22. Establish uniform procedures for record keeping, accounting and reporting throughout the city district, including pupil record keeping, accounting and reporting.
23. Develop an educational facilities master plan, and revisions thereto, as defined in section twenty-five hundred ninety-o of this article.
24. Develop and implement a five-year educational facilities capital plan, and amendments thereto, as defined in section twenty-five hundred ninety-p of this article. The chancellor shall also appoint a person, who reports directly to the chancellor or his or her designee, to assist in the development and implementation of such plan and amendments thereto and to oversee the school buildings program.
25. On the chancellor's own initiative, or at the request of a community superintendent, transfer a principal employed by a community school district pursuant to an agreement with the employee organization representing such principals. The chancellor shall establish a procedure for consulting with affected parents to explain any such transfer. Consistent with section twenty-five hundred ninety-i of this article, including without limitation subdivision three thereof, and subdivision one thereof with respect to the rights and obligations of a school to which a principal is transferred, in addition to any other law providing for the transfer of principals, the chancellor also may cause the transfer or removal of principals for persistent educational failure, conflicts of interest, and ethics violations, and may require principals to participate in training and other remedial programs to address identified factors affecting student achievement and school performance.
26. Establish educational and experience qualifications and requirements for all custodial positions including, but not limited to, custodians and custodial engineers and develop standards for evaluating the performance of all such individuals, subject to approval of the city board. Such performance standards shall include, but not be limited to:
the cleanliness of facilities; adequacy and timeliness of minor repairs;
maintenance of good working order of facilities and grounds;
general facilities improvement;
and emergency services.
The chancellor shall promulgate regulations setting forth the respective responsibilities of the district plant manager, which shall include regular consultation and ongoing reports to the community superintendent, and the principal of each school for evaluating the performance of the custodial employees assigned to his or her school, in accordance with such performance standards, and such performance evaluations shall be given dominant weight in any decision for the purposes of: advancement; continued employment; building transfers; and other performance incentives. The
responsibility of the principal of each school in the evaluation of custodial employees may be a matter for collective bargaining with collective bargaining representatives for principals.
27. Develop, in conjunction with each community superintendent, a plan for providing access to school facilities in each community school district, when not in use for school purposes, in accordance with the provisions of section four hundred fourteen of this chapter. Such plan shall set forth a reasonable system of fees not to exceed the actual costs and specify that no part of any fee shall directly or indirectly benefit or be deposited into an account which inures to the benefit of
the custodians or custodial engineers.
29. Promulgate regulations establishing educational, managerial, and administrative qualifications, performance record criteria, and performance standards for the positions of superintendent and principal.
30. Select and appoint a community superintendent, in compliance with the qualifications required by subdivision twenty-nine of this section and subject to the provisions of subdivision two of section twenty-five hundred ninety-j of this article, at a salary to be fixed within the budgetary allocation therefor.
31. Intervene in any district or school which is persistently failing to achieve educational results and standards approved by the city board or established by the state board of regents, or has failed to improve its educational results and student achievement in accordance with such standards or state or city board requirements, or in any school or district in which there exists, in the chancellor's judgment, a state of uncontrolled or unaddressed violence. The chancellor may, in addition to exercising any other powers authorized by this article, require such school principal, or district as the case may be, to prepare a corrective action plan, with a timetable for implementation of steps acceptable to the chancellor to reach improvement goals consistent with city board standards and educational results. The chancellor may require the school or district to alter or improve the corrective action plan, or may directly modify the plan. The chancellor shall monitor implementation of the plan, and, if the school or district fails to implement it, may supersede any inconsistent decision of the school principal, community district education council or community superintendent; assume joint or direct control of the operation of the school or district to implement the corrective action plan; or take any other action authorized by this article. Any action of the chancellor to supercede an inconsistent decision of the school principal, community district education council or community superintendent, or to assume
joint or direct control of the operation of the school or district pursuant to this subdivision may be appealed to the city board in accordance with section twenty-five hundred ninety-g of this article.
32. Appoint a deputy, for each borough of the city of New York, responsible for coordinating and periodically meeting and consulting with the borough president, the chancellor and the community superintendents in the borough on borough-specific issues and issues of borough-wide significance, including the provision of services in support of schools and community districts such as transportation, purchasing, capital planning, and coordination with municipal services, and chancellor and city board policy with respect to the high schools.
33. Require community school board members to participate in training and retraining in order to promote district and school performance and student achievement, as a continuing condition for membership.
35. Take all necessary steps to promote the effectiveness and integrity of school-based budgeting pursuant to section twenty-five hundred ninety-r of this article, including the obligations imposed by subdivision thirty-seven of this section.
36. Develop a procurement policy for the city school district of the city of New York and the districts and public schools therein. Such policy shall ensure the wise and prudent use of public money in the best
interest of the taxpayers of the state; guard against favoritism, improvidence, extravagance, fraud, and corruption; and ensure that contracts are awarded consistent with law and on the basis of best value, including, but not limited to, the following criteria: quality, cost and efficiency. Such policy shall also include: (a) standards for quality, function, and utility of all material goods, supplies, and
services purchased by the chancellor, superintendents, or schools; (b) regulations for the purchase of material goods, supplies, and services by the chancellor, the superintendents, and the schools, including clearly articulated procedures which require a clear statement of product specifications, requirements or work to be performed, a documentable process of soliciting bids, proposals, or other offers, and a balanced and fair method, established in advance of receipt of offers, for evaluating offers and awarding contracts; (c) regulations which enable superintendents and schools to purchase material goods, supplies, and services directly from vendors or suppliers when such products are available at prices or other terms more economically beneficial for the purposes of the acquiring superintendent or school; and (d) regulations shall include repair services and building supplies, as defined in such
regulations, for expenditures from each district's minor repair and purchasing funds pursuant to section twenty-five hundred ninety-r of this article.
37. Establish guidelines and a system of internal controls, including internal administrative controls and internal accounting controls, with provisions for internal audits, as such terms are defined in section
nine hundred fifty of the executive law. Such system shall also include a system of internal control review designed to identify weaknesses and identify actions to rectify them; a clear and concise statement of the generally applicable management policies and standards made available to
each officer and employee relevant to fiscal and expenditure control, in addition to education and training efforts to ensure adequate understanding of internal control standards and evaluation techniques; and the designation of an internal control officer for each community district, each of whom shall report to the chancellor and the auditor general, to execute a regular internal audit function, which shall operate in accordance with generally accepted governmental auditing standards. The internal auditors for the community districts shall operate in cooperation with the auditor general, appointed by the chancellor, who shall, in addition to the functions of the internal auditors, monitor and conduct random audits of school districts at least once every two years for fraud, waste, and mismanagement. Notwithstanding any provision of state law or state or city regulation, the internal auditors, and the auditor general, shall be entitled, upon their request, to all and any documents and materials bearing in their judgment on the finances and cost-effectiveness of the schools and the
school districts that is in the possession of the community districts, the schools, or any officer thereof.
38. To exercise all of the duties and responsibilities of the employing board as set forth in section three thousand twenty-a of this chapter with respect to any member of the teaching or supervisory staff of schools under the jurisdiction of the community district education councils. The chancellor shall exercise all such duties and responsibilities for all community districts or may delegate the exercise of all such duties and responsibilities to all of the community superintendents of the city district.
38-a. To exercise all of the duties and responsibilities of the employing board as set forth in section three thousand twenty-a of this chapter with respect to any member of the teaching or supervisory staff of schools which are not covered under subdivision thirty-eight of this section. Provided, however that the city board shall maintain jurisdiction over any consequence resulting from an employee waiver of a hearing, as provided for in paragraph (d) of subdivision two of section three thousand twenty-a of this chapter.
39. (a) Prescribe regulations and by-laws requiring members of the city board, the chancellor, and any other officer or employee in schools and programs under the jurisdiction of the city board and the chancellor to make annual written disclosure to the chancellor, of the following information:
(i) the employment by the city school board or any community district education council of any person related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to the person making disclosure, including the employment of any such person for which a two-thirds vote was required under paragraph e of subdivision four of section twenty-five hundred ninety-j of this article, with a notation of the date such vote was taken.
(ii) the source of any income, reimbursement, gift, or other form of compensation for services rendered, together with a description of such services.
(b) Regulations and by-laws authorized in this subdivision shall apply with equal force and effect to community council members, community superintendents, and all other officers and employees in schools and programs under the jurisdiction of the community district education councils.
(c) The chancellor shall review, at least once annually, compliance with the requirements of subdivisions five and six of section twenty-five hundred ninety-e of this article and regulations or by-laws prescribed in this subdivision. Any community district education council member, community superintendent, or other officer or employee required to make disclosure, who fails to make such disclosure, shall be notified in writing of his or her failure to do so and given thirty days within
which to comply.
(d) Willful failure to make full and timely disclosure shall constitute cause for removal from office of any member of the city board or for any other officer or employee disciplinary action and such other penalty as may be provided by law.
(e) Disclosures made pursuant to the requirements of this subdivision and any notification of failure to make disclosures shall be made available for public inspection during regular business hours on regular business days.
40. (a) Prescribe regulations and by-laws requiring members of the city board, the chancellor, and, for good cause shown, any other officer or employee in schools and programs under the jurisdiction of the city board and the chancellor, to submit to the chancellor, in the discretion of the chancellor, financial reports for themselves and their spouses.
(b) The frequency and period of coverage, the designation of persons to submit such reports by name, title, or income level, or by a combination thereof, and the content of such reports, including minimum dollar amounts, shall be determined by the chancellor, and such reports may include but not necessarily be limited to the following:
(i) amount and source of income for services rendered, together with a description of such services;
(ii) amount and source of gifts, capital gains, reimbursements for expenditures, and honoraria;
(iii) investments in securities and real property;
(iv) amount of debts and names of creditors;
(v) outstanding loans and other forms of indebtedness due to person reporting or spouse, by name and amounts; and
(vi) trusts and other fiduciary relationships and their assets in which a beneficial interest is held.
(c) Regulations and by-laws authorized by this subdivision shall apply with equal force and effect to community council members, community superintendents, and all other officers and employees in schools and programs under the jurisdiction of the community councils.
(d) Willful failure to file required financial reports shall constitute cause for removal from office of any member of the city board or for any other officer or employee disciplinary action and such other penalty as may be provided by law.
41. Appoint and set salaries for staff in non-represented managerial titles.
42. (a) To dispose of such personal property used in the schools and other buildings of the city of New York under the charge of the city board as shall no longer be required for use therein. Such disposition shall be made in the name of the city of New York and for such city.
(b) The chancellor may sell, at prices as may be agreed upon, such manufactured articles or other products of any school of the district, day and evening, as may not be utilized by the city board, and all moneys realized by the sale thereof shall be paid into the city treasury and shall at once be appropriated by the city to a special fund to be
administered by the city board for such purposes as such board, in its discretion, may determine. All other moneys realized by the sale of personal property shall be paid into the city treasury and shall at once be appropriated by the city to the special school fund of the city board for use in the borough in which the property sold was situated.
(c) Such method of disposal shall be deemed not to apply to the disposition of school books pursuant to subdivision forty-three of this section.
43. To dispose of, to the best advantage of the city of New York, either by sale or on the basis of money allowance for waste paper, all books delivered to the several public schools of such city that have been discarded either by reason of being obsolete, no longer required by the course of study, worn by long usage, or mutilated by accident. If disposal is made by sale, it shall be to the highest bidder, and the money realized shall be paid into the city treasury and shall at once be appropriated by the city to the special school fund of the city board entitled "supplies". If disposal is made on the basis of money allowance for waste paper, it shall be to the highest bidder. Such discarded books may be disposed of without public advertisement or entry into a formal contract. Should the discarded books be in such condition that no sale or exchange can be made, or should there be reason to believe that such discarded books have become infected through disease among the pupils, or should the superintendent of schools certify that such discarded books contain erroneous, inaccurate, obsolete, or antiquated subject
matter, illustrations, maps, charts, or other material, the committee on supplies of the board of education, if such books cannot be sold, given away, or otherwise salvaged as waste paper without danger to the public health, may authorize their destruction by fire, in which event the superintendent of school supplies shall obtain and file in his or her office a certificate that such books have been so destroyed, signed by the principal of the school in which the books are located.
44. To provide the proper book or books in which he or she shall cause the class teachers under the direction and supervision of the principal to enter the names, ages, and residences of the pupils attending the school, the name of the parent or guardian of each pupil, and the days on which the pupils shall have attended respectively, and the aggregate attendance of each pupil during the year, and also the day upon which
the school shall have been visited by the superintendent of schools or by an associate superintendent of schools or by an assistant superintendent, or by members of the city board, or by members of the community district education council, or by any of them, which entry shall be verified by such oath or affirmation of the principal as may be prescribed by the chancellor. Such books shall be preserved as the property of the chancellor and shall at all times be open to inspection by members of the city board, by members of the community councils and by the superintendent of schools, or by any associate superintendent of schools, or by the assistant superintendents.
45. Make rules and regulations for the conduct, operation, and maintenance of extra classroom activities and for the safeguarding, accounting, and audit of all moneys received and derived therefrom. In the case of any extra classroom activity as it shall deem proper, and notwithstanding the provisions of section twenty-five hundred thirty of this title, it may direct that the moneys received or derived from the conduct, operation, or maintenance of such an extra classroom activity be deposited with the auditor, who in such event shall be the treasurer of such an extra classroom activity, the moneys of which are required to be so deposited. In the procurement of articles and services for the conduct, operation, and maintenance of a cafeteria or restaurant
service, the chancellor shall be subject to applicable provisions of law, except that said chancellor need not have duly advertised for estimates in order to contract for such articles or services in an amount exceeding one thousand dollars. The chancellor shall also have power to assign any officers or employees to perform such duties as he
or she may prescribe in connection with an extra classroom activity and to designate such officers and employees when so assigned from whom a bond shall be required for faithful performance of their duties and to fix the sum in which each such bond shall be given.
46. To maintain, through such representatives as he or she may designate, an effective visitation and inspection of all schools and classes maintained in institutions controlled by the department of correction of the city of New York.
47. To assign, in his or her discretion, one or more employees of the city board to serve as trial examiner with power to conduct investigations and hearings on behalf of the chancellor. Each trial examiner shall report the result of any such investigation or hearing to the chancellor.
* NB Effective until June 30, 2009
Then there is the matter of the Community Education Councils, whose members are "chosen" by votes cast by PA/PTA Presidents, Treasurers, and Secretaries. This manner of excluding the vast majority of the New York City population as voters is illegal. See the case below, in which the United States Supreme Court decided that all citizens who live within a state may vote for public school board members:
Kramer v Union Free School District
As Mr. Klein has no contract, he cannot be held accountable for not complying with Federal law, right? Wrong, but no one has held him accountable for this, yet.
September 13, 2006
ON EDUCATION; The Not-So-Public Part Of the Public Schools: Lack of Accountability
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
WHEN Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein gained unprecedented power over the vast archipelago of public education in New York more than four years ago, they were the beneficiaries of three beliefs widely held in the city.
The first was that the system of decentralized control, ended after 35 years by the State Legislature in June 2002, had been a misadventure of bureaucratic inefficiency, academic inconsistency and persistent corruption.
The second was that the education program advocated by Mr. Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, with its emphasis on steering public money into vouchers for private schools, was too radical for New York.
The final factor was that Mr. Bloomberg, astride a personal fortune, and Mr. Klein, an anti-trust lawyer in the Clinton administration, were so independent and incorruptible they could be trusted to run a system with more than a million students and a budget well into the billions with few, if any, of the traditional forms of government or community oversight.
It is clear that Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Klein have indeed created a third way, though many might not realize it. Their reinvented school system has many more private components than ever before, which come under very little outside scrutiny.
This not-so-public part of the public school system has received more than $330 million in grants and donations from private sources over the past three years, according to Education Department statistics.
While several hundred million dollars barely compares with the annual budget of $15.4 billion from public sources, some of the private money has gone toward devising and carrying out two relatively untested and consequently divisive initiatives of the current administration -- the rapid opening of scores of small schools and the recruitment and training of principals in a new Leadership Academy.
Outside money also supports the educational programs of private, nonprofit organizations as disparate as Outward Bound and the Asia Society. These various groups have helped found, operate, and support roughly 200 public schools -- in essence a school system within a school system. The largest of these partners, New Visions for Public Schools, itself has a hand in running 117 of these schools, 83 of which started during the Klein years, serving 25,000 pupils.
The overarching question is whether these initiatives amount to efficient innovations to a sclerotic system or an evasion of the normal checks and balances of government.
Chancellor Klein describes this parallel track of schools and policies as essential to his efforts to shake up, if not circumvent, the bureaucracy, allowing risk-taking and experimentation. Essentially he and the mayor say to New Yorkers: Trust us.
'I don't want to disempower leadership when it's tackling some tough issues,' Mr. Klein said in an interview last week. 'Isn't what you want most in government performance?'
In Mr. Klein's view, added layers of accountability lead right back toward the lumbering pace and complacency of the old, independent Board of Education and community school boards. The line of accountability now runs straight from Mr. Klein through a submissive Panel for Educational Policy to the mayor himself.
'I don't think there's a lack of transparency,' Mr. Klein said of his initiatives. 'Transparency is knowing what we're doing, who's doing it, why we're doing it. You don't have to have a vote on every item. That's where you have the problem of paralysis.'
Some education experts who have praised Mr. Klein and Mayor Bloomberg for raising test scores and graduation rates, particularly in schools with large numbers of low-income and nonwhite pupils, express misgivings about the way even worthy changes have been achieved. 'There is a trend that I think of more as corporatization than privatization,' said Raymond Domanico, the senior education adviser to the Industrial Areas Foundation in New York. 'In privatization at least you'd get some empowerment of consumers, which in public education would mean families and parents. They are the check against private forces. And in the public-sector model, there are rules and governmental checks and balances. What we've seen is an engagement of private organizations without any effective counterbalance.'
Exhibit A might well be New Visions. While the group's involvement in public education in New York goes back more than a decade, it has grown since 2002 into a virtual subsidiary of the Department of Education, thanks to the infusion of $40 million from the Gates Foundation, $20 million from the Annenberg Foundation, and close ties to one of Mr. Klein's top advisers, Michele Cahill, herself a former official at the Carnegie Corporation.
AS a private nonprofit entity, New Visions is not directly subject to even the tame oversight of the city's education policy panel. The statistical evaluation of its schools has been done by yet another private vendor, Policy Studies Associates.
Similarly, as the Leadership Academy has spent $60 million to develop a total of 164 principals, the use of private money has shielded it from inquiries about just how cost-effective it has been. Now, with the academy having spent all but $10 million of the money raised for it, taxpayers will be picking up some costs. (The Education Department says the academy's programs have reached a total of 3,000 current and prospective administrators.)
Another facet of the de facto privatization has been the marked increase in no-bid contracts. In recent weeks, a controversy has arisen over Mr. Klein's decision to award a $17 million, no-bid contract to the consulting firm of Alvarez & Marsal to find $200 million in possible cuts in the education budget. (The money is to be redirected into individual schools.) Alvarez & Marsal was initially hired for a six-month trial with $5 million in privately raised money.
The Alvarez & Marsal deal, though, is only one piece in a broader pattern of awarding contracts without the competition normally required of city agencies. Statistics compiled by Betsy Gotbaum, the public advocate, show that the number of no-bid contracts for public education went from eight worth a total of $1.3 million in 2001, the last fiscal year before Mayor Bloomberg got control of the school system, to a high of 69 contracts worth $56 million in 2003.
The reliance on private vendors has led to another complaint among veterans of the public school system: that their own expertise is considered less valuable than that of outsiders. A company named Aussies Inc., has received more than $10 million since July 2003 for providing literacy and math coaches. Princeton Review, best known for its test-prep classes, has been paid more than $21 million in the past five years, most of it for 'professional development' of math teachers.
'Using private goods and services to supplement public resources is common in American public education,' said David C. Bloomfield, the chairman of the educational leadership program at Brooklyn College, who has filed a complaint against the city over small school admissions. 'What's different today in New York is an apparent hostility toward public employees. What's different is that there's a prejudice against people who've been there.'
Even if the agenda pioneered by Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Klein succeeds, the system of public education with limited public accountability will most likely outlast them. It is more than reasonable to worry about such nearly absolute autonomy atthe disposal of future mayors and chancellors, who may not have the rectitude of the present two.