Should the mayor take control of city schools?
Liz reports today that Mayor Dixon is potentially interested in taking back control of the Baltimore school system, replacing the current structure where the mayor and the governor jointly appoint a school board. With the recent increase in test scores and the political capital they bring, who can blame her?
When he was mayor, Gov. Martin O'Malley expressed support for mayoral control of schools, so Dixon would likely find an empathetic ally in Annapolis. Already, O'Malley seems to be deferring to Dixon to take the lead on school board appointments.
A growing number of big city mayors, including those in New York and Washington, have gained control of their schools. Education experts say the success of these arrangements hinges on whether the mayor has the will to support changes that are not politically popular. As Paul Hill, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, said in the story today, "one of the big issues is, does the mayor have the stomach for expending a fair amount of political capital?"
In Baltimore, Dr. Alonso has said he's committed to staying 10 years. But he's also said he'll only stay as long as he has the power to run the system without political interference. In his first year here, the school board was sometimes divided, but a majority always backed him. For as long as he's at the helm, we can count on more controversial decisions. Would Mayor Dixon go along with them?