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The ABCs of Mayoral Control of Schools

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg won control of this city's schools nearly four years ago and swiftly unleashed a dizzying string of reforms. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, former federal prosecutor Joel I. Klein, slashed administrative jobs, ordered uniform reading and math programs and hired parent coordinators for New York's 1,400 schools.

But the top-to-bottom overhaul came with a cost: The mayor and his schools chief have alienated teachers, parents and administrators, leaving many in the nation's largest public school system feeling disenfranchised and afraid to challenge City Hall.

"They are able to crack the whip more than is common in most cities," said Jeffrey Henig, a political science professor at Columbia University's Teachers College who studies the politics of school reform. "They sometimes have gone in with a bit too much haughtiness ... and cut themselves off from parent groups and teacher groups who know a lot from years of experience at the street level."

This article, written by Duke Helfand, appeared in the February 27, 2006 publication of the Los Angeles Times.

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