From the Bronx to Brooklyn, from Harlem to Tribeca, from Queens to Staten Island, public school parents are furious about Mayor Bloomberg's arrogant disregard for our views and his malignant educational policies. Check out the remarks of Sam Pirozzolo, President of the Community Education Council 31, at the Staten Island legislative breakfast last week, and what he said to state legislators about their extension of mayoral control:
I would like to thank the Staten Island Federation of PTA’s for holding this forum. I would like to thank all of the people in the audience and especially our elected officials for being here today.
As many of you know Staten Island school children have been under attack. We are under attack from a DoE that is unconcerned, uncaring, unyielding and unreliable. We are dealing with a mayor who rules our school system with outright disdain for parents, teachers and the very laws which govern our society. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:
• Mayoral Control: Mayor Bloomberg made a case that school boards were corrupt and wasteful. He convinced the Legislature that he, as a wealthy and wise man, could fix our public school problem if we would just let him control the show. Nine years later, I now interpret his statement to mean, I want a piece of that action. We have seen the mayor spend millions upon millions of dollars in “no bid contracts”. We have seen dozens of if not hundreds of runaway contracts explode beyond their estimated spending limit.
• One contract with the Xerox Corporation was supposed to cost at most $1 million – but the Department spent close to $68 million – a 6,759 percent jump in costs. Another contract with Ideal Restaurant Supply, jumped from $15,000 to more than $852,000 – a 5,530 percent jump.
• During two fiscal years combined, the Department issued 372 requirement contracts, originally estimated to cost $325,236,416 but which exceeded those estimates by 25% or more. The final tab wound up more than $1 billion.
• Many recipients of the contracts - 127 of them – got the lucrative work without any competition because the Department didn’t put the work out to bid. Those 127 contracts were supposed to cost $195 million at most. But the Department spent $525 million on them.
That equals well over $1 billion dollars. Well, Mr. Mayor how many teachers, how many schools, how many children would $1 billion support?
If you think schools are the only place we’re getting screwed you are wrong. How about the $80 million boondoggle with the City Time project?
When mayoral control was up for renewal two years ago, I testified, hundreds of parents throughout the city testified before the Assembly education committee. Mr. Cusak, Mr. Titone, you sat on that committee. You heard from hundreds of parents telling you that checks and balances were needed to protect our school system.
CEC 31 sent our testimony to every elected state official on Staten Island. We did not receive one return phone call to ask what we thought may help. Our pleas, and the pleas of hundreds of other New York parents fell upon deaf ears.
What did this mean to Staten Island? We have lost a 40 year variance to bus our 7th and 8th graders to school. We had to keep 650 students from PS 36 home for three days, before the mayor agreed to replace leaking toxic PCB emitting light ballasts that were threatening our children.
We are seeing the proliferation of charter schools, co-locations and school closings around the city. Schools on Staten Island are constantly being short changed.
Now our mayor is asking the State Senate and Assembly for permission to fire “unproductive senior teachers”. Well I have to tell you that I agree with that 100 percent; however there are already systems in place to do just that. Just to be clear, I am not advocating for teachers or the UFT with my next statement, I am advocating for our children.
I say to our legislators, don’t you DARE give the mayor the power to fire anyone. He has proven with his past actions that he cannot be trusted. Most politicians elected for their last term are considered lame ducks, but not Mayor Mike, he acts as though he will be around for a fourth term and I am sure he can buy that too.
Before I go let me remind you that we need educational reform. We need checks and balances on Mayoral Control. We need an EDUCATIONAL TEA PARTY. We need is a bill introduced in the Assembly and Senate that seeks to curb Mayoral Control. Parents: these are the people who are supposed to fight for you.... sitting right there. Tell them what you want.