Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Soviet-style democracy

The issue doesn't matter, only the process. NYC Mayor Bloomberg tossed aside any pretense of independence in the School Board as he replaced two members immediately before a vote. SI Borough President Molinaro replaced a 3d member in similar fashion. (In fairness, there was a distinction - Bloomberg asked his folks to pull the trigger themselves via resignations; Molinaro kept the pleasure all to himself.)

The issue can be argued in good faith - the basis upon which a 3d grader should be promoted. Before last night, it was a rather nebulous approach that resulted in very few kids being held accountable for poor academic performance. Bloomberg has reduced promotion to a single issue - the 3d grade competency exam. As a teacher, I can criticize and support aspects of both schemes ... but regardless.

Boards operate across the country in similar fashion one to another: sunshine laws require open deliberation and opportunity for public comment; board members shift through all of the information they learned and, being the people closest to the facts and circumstances, vote in their discretion what they believe to be in the best interests of their constituents.

But therein lies the issue - most boards view the general public or some segment of it as their constituents ... Bloomberg has a different view. And not unlike Stalin, made sure his view prevailed.

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