A Race against Time: The Crisis in Urban Schooling

By James G.Cibulka; William Lowe Boyd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE

Balancing Autonomy and Control in the New York City Public Schools

using the Double-ACE model

BRUCE S.COOPER
DAVID C.BLOOMFIELD

When Americans grow dissatisfied with public schools, they tend to blame the way they are governed. There is too much democracy, or too little, critics insist, too much centralization or too little, too many actors in the policy formulation or too few. Although Americans have recurrently demonstrated a profound distrust of government (Farnham 1963), they have also asserted a Utopian faith that once Americans found the right pattern of school governance, education would thrive. (Tyack 1993, 1)

AT FIRST GLANCE, IT APPEARS that urban historian David B. Tyack's statement above applies to New York State. For, on December 17, 1996, the New York State Legislature in an extraordinary session passed a new statute (the Act), significantly altering the organization and governance of the nation's largest urban school system, the New York City Public Schools. The Act considerably weakened the authority of the (decentralized) community school boards and district superintendents, instead giving the chief executive officer, the schools chancellor, much greater latitude and responsibility to hire, evaluate, train, transfer, and fire community superintendents and to remove or supersede elected community school boards or individual board members. Was this just another swing in the pendulum, a change from a decentralized to a re-centralized system, or was something more profound and important happening—the introduction of

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