The Annoying ERT Buzz of Mindless Talk and Chatter By DR. ED U. CATOR
Mayor Mike Spano just announced his new “crew” on TV. Yes, Spano referred to these selected volunteers by using the term “crew.” One would have thought a brand new gang formed in Yonkers. The mayor called this group his Education Redesign Team (ERT). The chosen 15, along with the mayor’s special assistant on education will help guide Mayor Mike Spano through several phases of Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE) reform. This first phase is to be completed by June 2012.
Not only are there no Trustees of the Yonkers Board of Education, or members of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers (YFT) on this committee, but nearly half of the appointees are directly connected to the mayor’s brother, Nick Spano, and politically compliant. The remaining members all have entanglements; either through relatives or the gravy train of government dollars, which sustain their respective enterprises.
The ERT is entrusted with a two-phase mission. It is to deliver on a “heavy” agenda already articulated by the mayor; and tasked to do so within 90 to 100 days. Yet it has no discernable funding stream or staff. There is no one on the ERT who can or will dedicate the time necessary for such a bold task. Personal responsibilities will allow for only “bull” sessions to demonstrate public attendance.
This idea was first pursed by former Yonkers Mayor Terry Zaleski and has been an on-going concept since by other administrations for a total of 20 years. The irony here is that Terry Zaleski was, like Mike Spano, a former New York State Assemblyman who would each in turn become Mayors of Yonkers. What is it that this ERT “crew” will do now that two decades of City Hill – Board of Education interaction has not been able to accomplish with many of the same people involved?
Yonkersites believed Mayor Mike Spano had some plan to present regarding the YBoE? Yet, here we are, entering the third month of this administration, and all there is to show is a new committee.
How is it Yonkers Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio “appears” to be in the mix, yet there is not one Trustee? Is it not the Trustees who are responsible for overseeing the Yonkers Board of Education; and no one else? Are they cooperating? And if so, why do you need a new “crew” called ERT? Upon some reflection, is it a stretch to imagine that had these same ideas and concepts worked over 20 years of talking about them with three previous mayors and just as many superintendents it would have been implemented by now? How many administrations has Pierorazio been through?
The options are clear, the way to facilitate the issues revolving about the Yonkers Board of Education is to either take over the YBoE, putting it directly under mayoral control, or have the Trustees held responsible for their actions or inactions. As its presently conceptualized, the Trustees can await the ERT report and do absolutely nothing once they receive it. City Hall, the mayor, the City Council, and the Educational Redesign Team can all do the dance of the Bumble Bee and all we will ever hear; is the buzz.
By the time ERT completes phase 1, the 2012-2013 budget will be in print. By the second phase, and the mayor’s team of ERT participants will have evolved and the 2013-2014 Budget will be in print. We will thereafter be at the 2014-2015 Budget and at the end of Mayor Spano’s term.
There are no guarantees; only promises. The turn around time is too short for studying and distilling such a complex system. This is all about repositioning old ideas with no new analysis as to whether it will work or not.
Unfortunately, this committee method is a legislative stall or cover, or both. Without cooperation of the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees or the YFT/CSEA, the ERT will not be able to negotiate any solutions. Stop with the dress rehearsal! Get people with real insight, brainstorm the issues, and avoid feel-good committee placements.