September 21 — 10:17 pm, 2011

SRC: Get it together

After Arlene Ackerman’s ugly departure, frustration with the School Reform Commission is at an all-time high. The September resignations of Chair Robert Archie and Commissioner Johnny Irizarry do not resolve anything.

Legislation for an elected school board is under discussion. Current proposals, however, take away powers like hiring and firing the superintendent, which would handicap that body from the outset. We may be stuck with the SRC for now, but it doesn’t have to be this bad. Here are some changes we need:

  • The SRC has been tainted by secretive and backroom maneuvers (e.g., Martin Luther King High School, private fundraising for Ackerman’s buyout) and continues to hold lengthy executive sessions. Everything they do must be in public unless it’s exempted by the Sunshine Act.

  • It’s unacceptable to consistently refuse to talk to the press or sit down with the public. People expect the SRC to explain their actions and share all public documents.

  • Commissioners must clearly declare any conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from votes and discussions about organizations to which they have ties.

  • SRC meetings held at 2 p.m. don’t work for teachers, students, or working parents. Schedule half the meetings in the evening.

  • Find commissioners with a history of commitment to public education and basic knowledge of education issues. Some should be experts in the field.

  • The old school board used to have a student advisory member and an alternate. Bring them back. They could probably teach the SRC a few things.

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