Mayors superintended

Pawlenty wants to shift control of Twin Cities’ school districts to mayors.

Public education is being shaken up at both state and federal levels. While President Barack Obama is attempting to improve schools through programs and reform, Gov. Tim Pawlenty seeks to improve our stateâÄôs urban schools by giving the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul authority over their respective school districts. During his State of the State speech last week, the governor said that âÄúpersistently low-achieving schools need new leadership, new authority and new teachers hired and assigned based on performance, not seniority.âÄù He claims that this change would be best facilitated by a centralized authority. This is not an unprecedented strategy, as several other large urban school districts âÄî including those in New York, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland and Los Angeles âÄî have gone under mayoral control. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, once a superintendent in Chicago under a mayor-run system, believes mayors can help mobilize reform. While consolidated authority may streamline both accountability and decision-making, itâÄôs unclear what a mayor could do for our schools that empowered, actively engaged parents and community members cannot. Fixing our schools should be a process of close coordination between educators, communities, city and state actors; assuming a mayor-run system will solve our problems silences many of the parties concerned. Besides, while PawlentyâÄôs proposal is certainly worth discussion, the biggest help our public schools could get right now would be the $1.5 billion Pawlenty himself slashed from the budget in unallotments last summer.