Yesterday I attended the Joint committee on Public Schools meeting.  Here are a few things I thought noteworthy.

Senator Rice asked some very pointed questions about QSAC.  He wanted to know:

  • the implementation process,
  • how many districts had been evaluated,
  • how many were in each level of monitoring and
  • the exact process and timeline under the law.

Specifically he wanted to know if QSAC allowed for a Mayor to take charge of a school district or required a Mayor to have input for the assessment process.  Acting Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks said that QSAC does not provide for Mayoral takeover but does not specifically ban mayoral participation.

Other questioning from Sen. Rice and others tried to establish the Superintendent hiring, evaluation and firing or retention process for Takeover districts.  Assemblywoman Evans spoke passionately about the fact that Paterson’s had 6 State Superintendent and to the districts detriment they were all either prevented from doing their jobs or retained to continue a horrible job, because of politics and bad State oversight.  She said she is troubled that the State is not doing enough to move Paterson forward and they need to act quickly before we lose another generation of children.

The Commissioner agreed and said that the students are clearly not the problem.  And here’s the part I really liked – The students can learn.  She said the students are suffering from mis-education, a failure of the system. The kids deserve the very best and quite honestly, we haven’t been committed to that. Well said and I hope it doesn’t cost her the job!

Senator Rice wants to ensure that the law is followed to return districts to local control.  He said he is “sickened by the arbitrary and capricious letting go of competent Superintendents.”  He would rather not but will legislate and litigate to stop the practice if necessary. He is submitting a list of questions to the Commissioner for additional information and further clarification.

Paterson’s Mayor Jeff Jones was also at the meeting but had to leave before he had a chance to speak.  Kudos to Senator Rice, Assembly Woman Evans and the Joint Committee  for holding the State accountable and to Acting Commissioner Hendricks for putting the kids at the center.

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