Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch…Upon hearing the news that his proposal to do away with a democratically elected board of education and replace it with one made up of people appointed by him, Bridgeport’s Mayor said, “While I believe that the New York, Boston and Providence model would have ensured greater progress for our schools and better results for our students, I will devote an equal amount of energy to improving our schools, accepting that the current model of government means that I have no legal authority to direct our school system.”
Although there is absolutely no evidence that cities with boards of education that are appointed by mayors have better academic results than do cities that have boards elected by the people, clearly Bridgeport’s mayor is upset that his record-breaking campaign to wrestle control of the board away from the voters was unsuccessful.
Finch may find it comforting to know that he wasn’t the only mayor to get slapped around on Tuesday.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as President Obama’s initial chief of staff, also got a wake-up call from his constituents on Election Day.
In a little known advisory referendum, some Chicago voters had the opportunity to cast their ballot in favor of an effort to turn the Chicago Board of Education into an elected board, rather than one appointed by the Mayor.
And incredible 87 percent of the voters who had the opportunity to vote came down on the side of an elected school board for Chicago, rejecting the Mayor’s demand that only he have the authority to determine who could be on Chicago’s school board.
The Raise Your Hand Coalition, a group of parents and public school advocates, were able to collect enough signatures to get the ballot question listed in 327 of Chicago’s 2,000 voting districts.
When the results were announced, 65,763 Chicago residents voted in favor of having an elected board of education while 10,174 voted in favor of maintaining Mayoral control.
The primary criticism has been that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has packed the Chicago Board of Education with pro-charter school, anti-union, anti-teacher, corporate elite, people who pro-education activists claim are, “out of touch with the public schools and should not be making decisions about them.”
As was the case here in Connecticut, Mayor Emanuel has claimed that, “an elected board would only inject more politics into an already political system,” a truly bizarre argument, considering the right to choose one’s representatives not only resulted in the election of Mayors Emanuel and Finch in the first place, but it is the very inalienable right to voting and selecting one’s representatives that many of us claim makes the United States the greatest democracy in the world.
In Chicago, the pro-elected board forces say that their next goal is to hold a citywide referendum on the subject.
One wonders if Mayor Emanuel will ask Mayor Finch to come to Chicago and help campaign against democratic rights in the Windy City.
More at http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=3761§ion=Article or check out the pro-democracy effort in Chicago at: www.ilraiseyourhand.org