Is it a good idea to give mayors control of the schools?

A House committee is considering a bill to put the public schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul under control of the mayors in those two cities. Under the bill, the mayors would appoint the school boards and chief executive officers. Today’s Question: Is it a good idea to give mayors control of the schools?

  • Aleksandra

    Yes, it is if it is in the benefit of the school kids to have appointed school boards and chief executive officers by the mayor

  • Maggie

    As a Minneapolis citizen with soon-to-be school-aged child, I really trust that R.T. Rybak would be impactful and successful….but I don’t necessarily trust that future mayors would. Yet at the same time I don’t see the kind of bold, fast, forward progress from current school system leadership that I expect and that is needed.

  • John

    In the hands of a mayor like R.T. Rybak, a change of this type *could* be successful. Maggie also correctly recognizes that a future mayor might not have the same chops.

    On the other hand, melding the politics of educating inner-city kids with the politics that already permeate City Hall *could* create new opportunities for gridlock and discord, regardless of who occupies the Mayor’s Office.

    Giving an elected official the power to appoint school board members (instead of electing them) and adding the ability to appoint executive leadership does not leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. If this occurs, can Minneapolis avoid becoing the next New York City or Washington, D.C.? To be honest, I’m not sure.

    There is certainly no shortage of controversy on current topics such as a new Vikings stadium, light rail expansion, etc. To be sure, public education has its own set of divisive issues as well. Putting them together in the same political blender and throwing the switch has the potential, in my view, of backfiring miserably.

  • Stephanie

    No. Mayors know little to nothing about educational research about instruction and school improvement. As politicians, they are likely to follow the whims of the public, instead of the long, sustained hard work needed to improve schools. This idea is a gimmick that distracts from the real issues.

  • Larry

    Oh yes! I think that’s an absolutely wonderful idea! After all, crony capitalism and nepotism are the cornerstones of democracy.

  • jon

    Sure, what could go wrong with taking away the ability of the public to vote in the officials that are supposed to represent them and their children. I mean it worked great for every other place that has given up democracy for a dictatorship, right?

  • Larry M.

    No, but perhaps allowing the mayor the ability to appoint one board member would be useful in helping co-ordinate services and create a cohesive agenda.

  • Gary F

    No, I’m not sure it does any good.

    I cringe at the thought of R.T. or Coleman, or any mayor having any more power than they already have.

    You deserve and get what you vote for, I have no pity for people that elect these knuckleheads to school boards and city governments of Minneapolis and St Paul.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Were the problem with the schools a simple case of mismanagement, this could be a useful quick fix while a long term solution is developed. But the real problem is that they’ve been underfunded and rhetorically sabotaged by ideologues who ultimately want to see the whole public school system fail so that schools can be privatized.

  • Gary F

    Underfunded? It will never be enough. It’s an insatiable beast.

  • Jim G

    Democracies’ power grow when as many stake-holders as possible vote. The control of the leadership of our city schools belongs to citizens.To give the mayors control of schools only creates another layer of bureaucracy. Mayors appoint their friends and/or friends of the high and mighty to these juicy patronage positions. This will only reduce the power of the citizens and cede it to the elite. It solves nothing and has zero impact on school performance. This is bad idea is brought to you by the same crabby conservative legislative leadership that contributed to the government shutdown last summer. Don’t dilute the vote to control our children’s future.

  • GregX

    NO NO NO….. In fact we should be getting rid of the control local school boards and parents have. Wanna know why …. because they DONT KNOW what’s best for their kids. They only know what they DONT LIKE. Now when you have every freaking school district making different decisions, about books, technology, pay, insurance, buildings, requirements, (on and on ad nauseum) – there is no opportunity for economies of scale to kick in. Only increases in expense, diversity of book keeping and mis-matche’s with any common standard. We need to consolidate the entire metro area under ONE school board and start leveraging cost effectiveness across the system.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Thanks for proving my point about rhetorical sabotage, Gary F.

  • Sue de Nim

    Actually, it’s only poor districts that are underfunded. I think we should go further than consolidating the metro districts. We should abolish school districts altogether, quit having them compete for state funds, and put all our public schools on the same team, working together to educate our kids.

  • Kevin VC

    School boards seems to get intrenched in their own little worlds. Even if we vote them in, seems few pay that close of attention to who runs them.

    And oversight by any public official seems missing. I only have to point to the Burnsville School Board as being corrupt. And there are plenty others.

    They are too use to being able to do things under the public radar. Such as personal information going public and sold. And my family proved that issue when you can buy the entire school district home addresses, pickup times, and bus schedules of students in a book for under $5. This book was so thick it had to cost more then $5 to produce.

    It is intended to be sold as a profit to the schools to marketing. BUT what marketing team needs to know personal information like this!!!

    It puts kids in danger of pedophiles, kidnapping by estranged ex-es, and just general abuse. It makes NO sense when put under ‘obvious’ light and seems to be some cocked up under the table deal that to this day makes no sense…

    It is lame decisions like this that point out the need to make sure they have the students and families at heart FIRST.

    As to it being a mayor, I could see this possibly being the case. But then again the Mayor of Burnsville is kinda a (SELF CENSORED) for the cited example I give. And even if it was not, there needs to be a trigger mechanism to allow such measures, not just out right take over.

    So in the end kinda for it, or some measure of it, but not a straight out hostile take over without reasoning.

  • Jim G

    Local control is bad? Do the conservatives know about new concept?

  • Dana

    I find it the height of arrogance and hatred of urban life that suburban legislators want to take control of schools away from representatives I elected. If this proposal had originated with legislators from Minneapolis and Saint Paul I could possibly find peace with it. As it stands, in an environment of anti-city policies, I can’t see it in any other way than an attack rather than a way to improve schools.

    I attended suburban schools as a child and the education my children are getting in the St. Paul Public Schools is of far better quality.

  • Alison

    I’m not sure, but I do think if this is enacted it should only begin after an election so the voters can take the new duty into account.

    Moving here from another state I thought it was very odd to not have school districts correspond to city boundaries. I still find it strange. I’ve long wondered why school districts are so disconnected from other parts of local goverment.

  • Ed

    If the mayor can be trusted.

    “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” Thomas Jefferson

    “The best hemp and the best tobacco grown on the same kind of soil. The former article is of first necessity to the commerce and marine, in other words to the wealth and protection of the country. The latter, never useful and sometimes pernicious, derives its estimation from caprice.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Jefferson’s journal entry / March 16, 1791

  • Lance

    That would remove the school board another level from the voter and that’s not good policy. One mayor-appointed member on the school board would be plenty to allow the mayor insight into what’s happening and the ability to apply political pressure and shine the public spotlight on areas that need correction (assuming that fits a particular mayor’s agenda.)

  • Patty

    No, absolutely not.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    What in the world makes people think that a mayor should be in charge of a city’s schools? How in the world would this improve things?

  • Lawrence

    Not on your life. This proposal, yet again, is another backdoor move to stop educating an overwhelmingly minority and poor student body. Once again, there are several other means of increasing student achievement if that is the desired the goal. Essentially, what this proposal will do is reduce the amount of state funding going to Minneapolis and St Paul public schools because these schools would no longer be under state control. At a time when these two districts really need resources now, why does the state keep coming up with proposals to end the resources? It’s like closing up an eye glasses shop just when thousands of eye glass wearers need new prescriptions.

  • Mark C

    No, city government and school districts should be distinct entities without mayors getting their hands on and messing with the school districts. Mayors don’t necessarily have any education credentials. I can easily see some mayors diverting resources from schools to other projects or using the school apparatus for other things. It won’t increase accountability for schools, and will probably actually decrease it. And it won’t serve cities well, either. Other issues that deserve attention may easily get pushed aside by politics or because the schools demand the attention of the mayor and/or city council. It’s a pretty lousy idea, however you look at it.

  • Jake

    How about giving highly qualified, trained, professional educators control of the school?