Mayoral Control Of The Schools

One of Michael Bloomberg’s most important accomplishments as Mayor of NYC was taking control of the NYC school system. In the decade since he did that, NYC public schools have improved significantly including increased high school graduation and college readiness rates. The public school system remains a work in progress and there is much more to do. The system has improved but not nearly enough.

So it concerns me greatly that politics in Albany are playing around with mayoral control of the schools. Mayoral control of the NYC public schools is set to expire on June 30th and there are signs that the Governor and state legislature are thinking about not renewing it.

This would be a colossal mistake. Organizations require accountability to succeed. The Mayor must be able to hire and fire the school chancellor and drive the necessary changes in the system. We tried the other way for many years and it was a disaster. I urge the elected officials in Albany to come to their senses and renew Mayoral control, not just for another year, but for at least the next five years. Longer would be even better.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    if you were Mayor Wilson of NYC what would you change in the city’s schools?

    1. JimHirshfield

      Small Ball Politics.

  2. JimHirshfield

    Sound principals (harharhar)But seriously, I thought this was a post about Swarm/Foursquare mayorships. De Blasio needs to check-in more frequently?

  3. pointsnfigures

    Milton Friedman said the more you can push governmental control down to the smallest level, the better. Locals will be able to hold their local politicians/officials accountable and vote them out of office.That’s the theory.In Chicago, we have local control of the schools and it is a total disaster. Mayor Daley wrested control, and turned the CPS into his personal crony piggybank like the rest of city government. But, Chicago and Illinois are not New York. In Chicago, the government runs more like a politburo than it does a democratic republic. The Chicago Public School system is $10B in debt. No chance of every paying it off.… State of Illinois property taxes are 2x the property taxes of the rest of the nation and Chicago has the highest sales tax of any city in the country.There is no out. Only bankruptcy. The sooner they do it the better. I don’t know where NYC and the state of NY are, but there becomes a tipping point where bankruptcy becomes the only option.I find the bureaucrats only see one solution to the problem-more government spending and higher tax rates. They never look for software or private solutions. In IL, our governor is purchasing all kinds of software to replace people-and actively looking for more solutions.

    1. Peter Meyer

      I don’t think Milton Friedman or the founders appreciated the power of teacher unions; they make a mockery of the statement “we have local control of the schools” — in Chicago and just about any public school district in the U.S. And to equate public sector unions with private sector unions is another trip down the rabbit hole: even FDR, the closest we’ve come to a socialist president, thought public sector unions were a bad idea.

  4. William Mougayar

    Yup, decentralization is in. There is better accountability and transparency with it.

    1. Jess Bachman

      Not always the case when you are dealing with the messiness of people and human nature. It’s not a clean mathematics thing like bitcoin.

      1. William Mougayar

        Look at the Swiss cantons model.

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Given the level of knowledge that people have about the federal government versus their local governments, I’d actually claim the opposite. There is much evidence to suggest that for the most part state legislators and local party officials are elected based merely on how people feel about national politics. With the dying out of local news sources the situation is actually getting worse.

      1. William Mougayar

        Look at the counties model in Switzerland. Best decentralized governance there is. Local state there has more powers than national over many issues.

        1. jason wright

          great point William. i would love to see England’s counties working to this model. if change will not come i may have to move.

  5. Steve Poland

    Buffalo should maybe take a page out of the NYC playbook. Our public school system has been a disaster for many, many years. I live in the city and there’s specific charter schools you try to get your kids into and if you aren’t lucky in the lotteries, then private school or suburbs is very attractive. Luckily got my girls into a great school this coming fall. We’ll keep them there through 4th grade, then hopefully they are smart enough to test into Buffalo City Honors school. If not, there is 1 or 2 other options, otherwise we’ll have to think long and hard about moving out to the suburbs (which is not attractive to me at all, but have to do what’s needed for the kids).

  6. Mike Zamansky

    I’m all for mayoral control but let’s not kid ourselves in terms of accountability. There’s a big old dark side to education under the Bloomberg administration — sending under-credited overage kids to schools with no hopes of graduating them thus making those schools appear to be failing. Then you give the site to an unaccountable charter chain that doesn’t take those hard cases so you can ship them off to the next school you want to set up to fail.I don’t remember where I first read or heard this but I do recall Michael Bloomberg on Mayoral accountabilty stating “If parents don’t like the way I run the schools, they can boo me at parades.”Yes mayoral control but yes also to community and local control and real accountability.

    1. Michael Preston

      Mike – under Bloomberg there was a huge increase in the number of transfer high schools (see Bronx Arena, Brooklyn Frontiers, and many more) specifically designed to serve undercredit/over-age kids. There are now more than 50 of these schools across the city, many of them operated in partnership with a CBO that attends to kids’ socio-emotional and other needs. Look into the work that Eskolta and other organizations have done with them.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        The perception from the castle of Tweed is very different than the reality of those of us in the trenches. Of course, I’m not speaking for myself who was at a high performing school but of friends and colleagues who have provided no shortage of tales as to how the DOE (under both Bloomberg and presently) provided little to no support for struggling schools.I’ve been told of schools who were given otc admits with no hope of graduating on time (which then makes the school appear to be failing) and then the struggle to try to get a transfer school to take them.

        1. Michael Preston

          I know you’re no fan of Tweed, to put it mildly, and sometimes they deserve the criticism, but there are also a lot of people there who are deeply connected to the schools.I don’t know about schools receiving larger numbers of struggling kids as a strategy to make them fail.

          1. Mike Zamansky

            Yep – I’m not a fan – my opinions based on my interactions and observations.I don’t doubt that many at Tweed during the Bloomberg era had the best of intentions but it started from the top down with the idea that you didn’t need to be experienced in and understand education to run schools and a school system and with the thought that privatization was the way to go. I disagree with both premises.And of course, mayoral accountability was and is a myth and in my experience principal accountability is as well – either you were part of the in crowd and could do no wrong or you weren’t. I won’t share specifics in a public forum such as this since some players are still in the DOE.That’s why I said I’m pro mayoral control but there has to be real accountability and that local communities need a voice.

      2. ShanaC

        50 schools, that’s nothing compared to the size of the student body in NY. and what about middle and grade schools?

        1. Michael Preston

          That’s a bit over 10% of high schools in NYC, serving a relatively small population of overage/undercredit kids not in regular high schools. I don’t have data on how many students are in those schools. I’m not sure what you mean about middle and elementary schools, although their job should of course be to prevent kids from becoming overage/undercredit in the first place.

          1. ShanaC

            90ish percent don’t. As for early grades – ideal situation is to prevent overage/undercredit. realistically, they need transfer schools too

  7. Ana Milicevic

    This is one of those prime examples of when the needs of the state diverge from the needs of the city. While I’m a fan of decentralization overall, I can see how this type of mayoral control can be problematic in smaller communities.

    1. Matthew Zadrozny

      Yes.Much as I love the Adirondacks, it’s not clear to my why NYC / the greater metropolitan area (Westchester, Long Island) should be tied to upstate. Apparently, NYC owns much of the land north of us as a means of protecting the water supply. That said, it’s weird to have some absentee lords calling in a provincial town calling the shots on education, transportation, etc.

  8. Patrick Sullivan

    Some things are better, some are worse. In terms of research and technology, the “old way” produced more Intel Science Talent Search finalists, for example. You did not send your kids to the public schools so you have much less real insight than those of us who do.

  9. Jamyn

    It’s clear to me that this is just Cuomo torturing de Blasio. I suspect he will allow the Mayor to retain control at the last minute. Political theater. Sadly, the children are the afterthought in this kabuki.

    1. Jess Bachman

      This was my first thought as well. Just a “Hey, remember about this power I have” type thing.

    2. LE

      Politics is the art of deal making, negotiation and compromise. It’s extracting favors and things in return for agreeing to things you may already believe in to begin with and not even object to. Makes total sense the way the parties are acting. This is all very easy to understand. Why would Cuomo give up a bargaining chip that he can use if he can skillfully come out on top with this?

      1. creative group

        LE:The majority of the statement regarding the explanation of politics didn’t apply for the eight years during current POTUS. Explanation of his described executive overreach.

        1. LE

          Hhe was wearing a breathing mask in the smoke filled room and he couldn’t divine the nuance. Oh wait he is a smoker forget that. With respect to healthcare, the game that he played was to jamm in through at all costs (which worked even though scorched earth result). In all honesty as much as I hate that law it was the right strategy if all he cared about was getting the law passed. Otherwise it would have never had happened. Time kills all deals. If you give people time to think to much and all the info they need to make a decision they could more easily oppose. So he steamrolled it. You know car dealers in many cases operate the same way “the deal is only good today”. Basic principle. Kudos to his team for that (appreciation of the game played by the winner).

          1. creative group

            LE:agree with your post. Was more good done than harm? The opposition signed up so there must be some good in it. What is the alternative? Nothing!No death panelsNo pre-existing disqualificationsChildren under 26 on parents planSure there will be a litany of cons overlooking said positives.Did Republicans ever support Healthcare Reform?…Republican Brent Brown a person gets sick all that idealistic support goes out the window.

      2. ShanaC

        tax money

  10. Peter Meyer

    Dear Fred, thanks for this dip into the public education debate. I have written a lot about public education reform the last 20 years — including several long pieces on the NYC revolution under Bloomberg and Klein — and recommend my stories here (… or any piece in Education Next to anyone who wants a deep understanding of the issues confronting American public education. Thanks. –peter meyer

  11. DJL

    if local control and accountability is so important (I agree), how can Common Core be any good? If we are going to push accountability and control – let’s go all the way.

  12. Collin

    I have a fairly unique viewpoint on public schools in NYC. I grew up in an affluent suburb where the public schools were incredible, moved to NYC at the start of high school and spent freshman year at a “bad” school, and spent my last 3 years at Stuyvesant.The move to state government would be a real negative in my opinion, as it is completely politically motivated. With that said, the school issues here are much greater than who is accountable to whom.There are many issues, but one major issue in my view is Intellectual segregation, and it is an issue that I believe got worse under Bloomberg. The vast majority of schools in the city don’t have a mix of students from high achieving to underachieving.In schools in the suburbs, you have kids across the spectrum, and they share classes and interact together to the benefit of all. In the city, you have the high achieving students going to specialized schools, and the students who are neither high achieving nor wealthy stuck in schools with other poor, struggling students. The struggling students do not experience the uplifting effect they normally would from the top 10% of students because the top 10% of students are all clustered together in a select number of schools.

    1. Rob Underwood

      It’s not just intellectual segregation, it’s racial and class segregation that is endemic. And it’s white parents in some of our supposedly most “progressive” neighborhoods that are self-segregating into overwhelmingly affluent, majority white district public schools. At least at the elementary level, NYC has effectively two totally separate school systems — one for affluent white kids in districts such as 15 and 2, and another for everyone else.I don’t think there is any political will to put the school choice genie back in the bottle, and certainly even less appetite for something akin to the busing what was tried 40 years ago. But the evidence is clear — when affluent white progressives (i.e., the demographic at the heart of gentrification) are given a choice of a good zoned school that is majority of students of color or a school that is perceived as “better” and overwhelmingly white, a bit further away, they will choose the latter, even if it means incurring the expense of a pied-à-terre in that zone to secure a seat. Brownstone Brooklyn and the UWS have made this very clear to anyone paying attention to school enrollment trends.The New School released an excellent report last year that shows that our schools are even more segregated that our underlying housing is, which is usually cited as the root cause of school segregation in NYC. See this write up about the report from Inside Schools:

      1. LE

        But the evidence is clear — when affluent white progressives (i.e., the demographic at the heart of gentrification) are given a choice of a good zoned school that is majority of students of color or a school that is perceived as “better” and overwhelmingly white, a bit further away, they will choose the latter, even if it means incurring the expense of a pied-à-terre in that zone to secure a seat.Wow is that really the case? Totally what I would think they would do. Reminds me a bit of Obama having his kids go to Sidwell for “security” purposes. [1][1] Because apparently there is no way for the secret service to secure a public school.

        1. Rob Underwood

          @le_on_avc:disqus – I don’t find this behavior surprising either.My point is that right now the “plan” to desegregate the NYC schools is that white, gentrifying parents “will do the right thing” and just choose to send their kids to more diverse schools, perhaps with lower test scores, over a school that is majority white and often popular with their neighbors with older kids.It’s just not happening like that — like not happening at all. You can look at pairs of schools PS 321/282, 58/32, 199/191, PS 8/307 and see this playing out throughout the city. This is why the PS 8/307 rezoning, which was not about desegregation (but rather to solve PS 8 overcrowding) became in the press a desegregation story.Despite all the public proclamations and hand wringing, when it comes time to make decision for their own kids, affluent white parents are choosing affluent white schools. The very same people in the media who write about desegregation or talking about it on MSNYC live in brownstone brooklyn and are choosing the 321/58/107/29 (or 87/199 in the UWS) group of affluent white schools for their kids.Again, I am not surprised. But this can’t be our strategy to desegregate the schools either (or we just need to decide as a city that we’re ok with segregated schools). If we just leave it up to parents, it’s pretty clear that parents will self-segregate their kids in a choice model. And, as we saw in the PS 8 / PS 307 zoning, it’s not only white parents who want schools for which their kids are the majority. We are also seeing in districts like 13 parents at schools that are majority students of color demanding admissions controls to preserve the racial mix of the school (i.e., keep the school majority students of color), even if the underlying zone demographics have changed, and now majority white.

          1. PhilipSugar

            Why make this racial?? Why not go the heart of the issue which is affluent people are affluent for a reason. They value education. People that are not guess what……generally don’t.It doesn’t matter whether you are in Harlem or Harlan County, KY which is almost all white.Now the question is where does this start and end for a child??? I’d take the viewpoint that you will hate and say at conception, not by the time they get to school.

          2. Rob Underwood

            1. Racial (and class) segregation is a huge issue in New York City’s school system right now. That’s why I brought the topic up. And the segregation of our schools has accelerated greatly since mayoral control was put in place (though I think that is only a correlation not a causative effect). The segregation is not just housing related — the schools are even more segregated than underlying housing might imply they would be. The topic of Fred’s post today is New York City schools, not schools nationwide… this is a very specific policy discussion regarding city vs. state control of the NYC school system.2. Regarding the rest of your post, I can only suggest you put down the Ayn Rand.

          3. Matt Zagaja

            I’m going to disagree with this. A Pew Research survey shows that minority populations are very likely to believe in the importance of a college degree for getting ahead…. This largely reflects the attitudes I’ve seen when I’ve met parents in some of the less affluent communities in Connecticut. This is not a problem of values of parents.

          4. PhilipSugar

            Really you’ve “met” them…..or lived there. I lived in West Hartford when I worked for Otis.

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Though the flip side of that is that when you mix the top performing students with less performing students your top performers can be held back as classroom instruction more often than not has to pace and account for the people in the middle of the pack. The benefits to the people in the middle and bottom of being exposed to high achievers are real and evidence supported, but I have not seen anything to suggest the high achievers get much out of it and some of my personal experience along with he views of others in similar situations is that it ends up being detrimental.

  13. CerterisParibus

    What a great thread today. #awesomecommunity.

  14. Rob Underwood

    I have a vested interest in this decision, and not only because I’m the parent of 3 district public school kids in NYC. I am an elected member of the Community Education Council (CEC) for Brooklyn District 13 — it’s to the CECs that some of the mayoral control/power would devolve if mayoral control is not continued, as we are the post-mayoral control school boards (note there is some irony in that Bill de Blasio got his political start on the school board of District 15 pre Mayoral control). The only hard power that CECs (school boards) still have post mayoral control is to vote on rezonings — a power CEC 13 recently was called on to use in our vote in favor of the PS 8 / 307 rezoning.Through my role on CEC 13 I’ve sought to help Fred and other individuals and organizations help expand computer science in Brooklyn. Fred has come and spoke at CEC 13 about computer science for example, which was just fantastic. But as much as I care about expanding CS4ALL, the issue that worries me most in NYC schools is the massive problem we have with school segregation, especially in districts like 13 (Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, North Slope, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, and Bed-Stuy – a “ground zero” for gentrification).I don’t think it would be right to say there is a causal relationship between school segregation and mayor control. One might even argue that in the old model the city’s schools might have been even slower to respond to this trend. But the correlation is there. With the Bloomberg reforms – mayoral control, principal control (strong principals, weak district superintendents), and expansion of school choice, has come increased school segregation.I have written extensively on this topic, and don’t want to turn this mayoral control discussion into a discussion about segregation. But whatever model we have on July 1, we need to make sure segregation goes to the top of the list. This problem is getting worse, and it’s not good to have so much of our wealth, privilege, and power concentrated in a handful of majority white district public schools in districts such as 2 and 15. No one is blameless – not the DOE, not parents, not city leadership, and certainly not the real estate industry, the hidden power behind much of school policy. But we need to address it. (Perhaps for example we need to look at the 32 districts themselves, largely a creation a gerrymandering to reflect real estate industry “red lines” — yes, it is very much by design that the lines such as 13/15 and 2/1 look like they do).If folks are interested here’s a sampling of some of what I’ve written about these topics: http://tumblr.robunderwood…., http://tumblr.robunderwood…., http://tumblr.robunderwood…., and http://tumblr.robunderwood….

    1. creative group

      Rob U:your post has been certified Gold.Your insight and view on subject is appreciated but very uncomfortable for many to objectively review because of content and reality.

      1. Rob Underwood

        I don’t live in fantasyland. I live in Brooklyn.

        1. Mike Zamansky

          Makes me think “Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown” but don’t want to give the impression that one should give up.

    2. ShanaC

      Wait, you’re my district (I think). Cool! and terrified that I should never move.Yes, my specific part of that area is gentrifying (and boy do I feel weird about it, mostly because I live on the crown heights edge) How do you compare against neighboring districts though (Looking at crown heights…) You being there means this district may in fact be way better than the one right next door….

      1. Rob Underwood

        I think the general view among many is that the best elementary and middle schools (high schools are city wide, so not really district specific) in Brooklyn are in district 15. There is actually a somewhat elaborate game of musical chairs that happens whereby district 13 parents look to get their kids into the district 15 for middle and in turn district 16 and 17 families take advantage of the available seats in district 13. Type your home address into the location bar of… and you’ll see your zoned elementary schools and your district (that will be the district in which you have middle school choice).

        1. ShanaC

          I’m zoned for 13 for elementary school and 17 for middle school. It appears that the local elementary school (in 13) sends most of its kids to P.S. 282 Park Slope (but that covers only 16% of its graduate of 5th grade)(edit: the middle school is ebbets according to the map. according to the map it says Notes: Zoned to IS 352, located in District 17. The choice thing makes very little sense, in part because I have no kids)Granted, I’m not staying in my apartment forever (Shawn, my fiancé, really wants a house. He also dislikes NYC, but works here, and will probably be working here for at least the near term, and my guess is middle term as well.) This doesn’t bode well for eventual moves if we have kids though. I probably should say that there are a ton of strollers in my building, and it is one of the gentrifying building types, and that the vast majority of the building appears to make good money from what I barely can tell from what packages come through the door? What does this mean for my building vis a vis 17 long term? Shuffling clearly isn’t going to solve the problem, and while the local elementary school is good and diverse (and will probably get better given the people moving in…) the middle school answer is going to be what?

  15. Richard

    train and prepare kids to go to college but dont teach these same kids how to pay (or even think about paying) for it. What a joke.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Well, if they would all work as hard as the kids who did who get into Harvard, then they’d all get into Harvard? Right?

      1. Rob Underwood

        Admissions to Harvard are no more of a meritocracy than is being hired by Goldman Sachs or McKinsey. The problem of our nation isn’t meritocracy; it’s that’s we don’t have one any more. We aren’t moving towards an oligarchy — we’re there.This, I think, is what is aggravating and energizing both the Trump and Sanders voters — there is no longer any illusion that smarts and hard work can get you ahead. It’s all pedigree now — we have a static class system. Tech and VC may be the last vestige where talent and hard work can get one ahead, but even (t)here, there is lots of evidence of bias towards certain demographics and pedigree.Here’s a longer piece I did on this 4 years ago –>…If you don’t have a the frequent chance to talk to “regular folks” outside of finance, media, and tech – and outside of NYC and the Bay Area – find a way. People are really desperate and depressed. There is a reason the nation has a massive opiate addiction right now across the demographic board. People are hopeless. Trump knows that.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.

        2. Mike Zamansky


        3. Matthew Zadrozny

          Was having this conversation with Shana on another thread:

        4. sigmaalgebra

          Okay, I read your essay at your URL.A lot of people, four years ago when you wrote that and still, now, will feel that way, and class does play a major role, but I believe that you are missing, never even mentioned or even touched on, the main point.To explain, I will go too far back: For each of those unemployed young people, the only thing they need and don’t have is parents with, say, 2000 acres of good Midwest farm land because, in that case, they would be economically essentially self-sufficient.In our public discussions of economics, we fall into a trap left over from the days when 90+% of the population did live in nearly a self sufficient situation on farms. The problem with that trap is that the economy of a city doesn’t work like that of a farm because in a city there is no hope of a person being self sufficient in the same way as people on a good farm.For an example of the difference, consider an egg, one egg: On a farm, for an egg, just get some grain, say, wheat, soy beans, even weed seeds. Then on the wood lot, get some trees, haul them to the local sawmill and return with some lumber and build a chicken house. Put some chicken with the grain in the chicken house and, soon, harvest the eggs. To pay the sawmill, ah, say, bring some eggs or, say, just some extra trees from the wood lot.But in the city, want an egg, sure, just go to a grocery store and pay with money.So, on a nearly self sufficient farm, don’t much need money. In a city, money is crucial. The farm country doesn’t have to care much about money. The urban economy, whether everyone in the city it knows it or not, must desperately care about money.Due to the way our credit, fiat money economy works, in the crash of 2008, we destroyed a lot of money. We have yet to recreate that money. And our public discussion of money and the economy is still stuck too close to the views of money reasonable enough on a farm.Let’s not be totally stupid and, instead, move one step farther. Things happen, unpredictable, exogenous things, call them shocks. Such a shock can leave one short on money.Now, I will go back to dating my wife, from a farm family. Her father raised chickens, 40,000 at a time. The first time I visited her home, she told me that when they wanted chicken for dinner, they drove the five miles or so to the little grocery store in the local cross roads town and bought a chicken, that is, didn’t pick a chicken from the flock of 40,000. Ah, they did pick a chicken from the flock, the best looking one they had, when the children needed an entry in the local county fair or 4H chicken raising contest! Well, if they were short on money, for dinner they could have just picked a chicken from the flock. For eggs, I suspect that they did just pick from what they had on the farm. So, due to the farm, they were close to self-sufficient. So, their response to an exogenous shock to the economy that left them a little short of cash was just to live off their farm. In the city, nope, and instead go hungry.So, to exogenous shocks, the farm is robust and the city is not. Our public discussions don’t realize that.We can call the farm an ecosystem. If we were to put a colony on the moon or Mars, then we would understand and accept in very good terms that we would have to bring, in full detail, a sufficiently good ecosystem with us.Well, in a city we are not given an ecosystem nearly as complete or sufficient as what we had on farms. So, in a city, we need to pay close attention to a sufficient ecosystem, e.g., one robust to unexpected exogenous economic shocks such as the crash of 2008. Well, our failing, in our media, policies, etc., is that we don’t do that. For a colony on the moon or Mars we’d all understand right away we’d need to pay close attention the a sufficient ecosystem, but for a city we are not paying enough attention to our need to construct a sufficient ecosystem; we are essentially assuming that we are much the same as on a farm, but very much we are not. E.g., in a city, we can’t have a wood lot, grow grain, or build a chicken house.Really, in the city, for that one egg, we need more than just some money; in addition we need a good urban ecosystem that will let us get the money and the grocery store sell the egg without losing money.Then, since the crash of 2008, our cities have been short on a good ecosystem. The farms are robust to the shocks and can get by; the cities aren’t and can’t.For a sufficient ecosystem for the cities, we have to pay close attention, something like we understand we would for a colony on the moon or Mars. We haven’t done that. We haven’t done our homework and, thus, can’t expect to get a good grade. We haven’t done good enough design or engineering and, thus, we are like the Titanic trying to cross the North Atlantic.So, in the cities, we haven’t done at all well with the shock of 2008. And the shock itself? We did that to ourselves. How? We were not thinking anymore carefully than we would have had to on a farm. E.g., watch the Frontline withRichard Kovacevich Chair, Wells Fargo (2001-09)at…with”This is toxic waste. We’re building a bubble. We’re not going to like the outcome. I’m very concerned.”In an old farming economy, mostly not so bad. In an urban economy, a disaster.Well, we’ve been there, done that, had the people hurting and dying before, 1930 to 1942 when suddenly people were shooting at us. So, we went 12 years in the Great Depression. IMHO, but I won’t argue in detail here, much of our crucial psychological and social capital are still short of where they should be.Well, the Great Depression went on for 12 years, and we got out only when people started shooting at us. Well, the Great Recession has now gone on for 8 years, 2/3rds as long, and we are not coming out of it. Sure, all along between 1930 and 1942 lots of people thought that we were coming out. Nope. And maybe people think we’re coming out now; IMHO, we’re not.In 1942 we came out in 90 days flat at which time everyone had at least one job offer and many people could have 2-3 jobs. How’d we do that? Sure: We printed money. We desperately wanted the production from everyone working so printed enough money to make that happen, and it did.Or, one step higher, our credit economy with fiat money can suddenly destroy a huge fraction of the money supply. Then the urban economy, which depends on money right down to each egg, grinds to a halt as in the Great Depression. As in the Frontline piece, in 2008 we were on the way to the same thing, and, really, were there, when Bernanke said “I’m not going to be the Chair of the Fed that presides over the Second Great Depression” or some such. So, Bernanke printed a lot of money, kept us out of the Second Great Depression, gave us the Great Recession, but didn’t get us back to normal.One more point: In a credit economy, deflation is toxic. Well, running up to 2008, we had a lot of inflation. Since then we’ve had a lot of deflation and has suffered the toxic effects.Basically now, what we are trying to do is to have a cash economy instead of a credit economy and one where we have way too little cash.So, net, we have a huge fraction of the urban population basically not part of the urban economy and, instead, in 2012 was part of Occupy. And a huge fraction of the rural economy that wanted to be part of a good urban economy was not. And such huge fraction is still not in a good urban economy, are sitting out, are in some lost years. Why? Again, our urban ecosystem is poorly designed and too commonly can’t take shocks. We didn’t accept that our urban ecosystem very much needed to be carefully designed, and now we are suffering. Yes, the same mistake of poor ecosystem design would have been much worse for a colony on the moon or Mars but is plenty bad in our cities now.We have to keep in mind: When our economy backs up, it runs over a lot of urban people — their lives are seriously hurt, and many are ended.Solution: Since I was once at FedEx, I will say, “absolutely, positively” we just must get the economy going again. Again, once again, over again, yet again, one more time, as for too many times in the past, we want full employment, good economic growth, and low or no inflation. We know that. We don’t have that now, and we should know that.Why don’t we do anything about it? E.g., why don’t we have riots in the streets, discussions of what the heck to do, and politicians promising to do that? Because nearly no one knows that something can be done and knows what the heck to do and why it will work. So, as a country, we just sit here and suffer mostly in silence.We had an example in 1942 (after 12 years of horrible suffering, we were still suffering, and, sorry, were NOT with “prosperity just around the corner” or even 20 miles away); finally, with people shooting at us, we acted and solved the problem in 90 days. We can solve the problem again, anytime we want to, apparently in 90 days.For more that is recent, and excellent, see JLM’s Recovery? Won’t Get Fooled Again, 05/12/16athttp://themusingsofthebigre…And there, if you wish, see my same song, second verse athttp://themusingsofthebigre…Anytime we want to get back to work, including in the cities, we can. Uh, shouldn’t we? Or would we rather just sit here and watch the days and years and our lives go by with emptiness?Just what is it about throwing our lives away we like so much?This is an old story for me: Growing up, really as is the case for everyone alive now, I saw a lot of problems left over from the Great Depression. It was and remains close to some national PTSD from the suffering of 1930-1942. Much of all of that is still with us. Bad stuff.Then as I saw, say, the S&L crisis, etc., I got interested in economics. I was in DC at the time and one day went to Congress and attended an economic hearing with testimony from some leading macro economists.I got a copy of Samuelson’s popular college text and started reading. I was horrified: To me, what was in Samuelson’s book was about as close to an effective understanding of our economy as a witch doctor was to an effective understanding of medicine. Actually, I concluded that the book was 100% junk that filled a much needed gap in the literature and would be illuminating if ignited, really, was just toxic sewage, for our society, nearly fatal if swallowed, except just for the chapter on the basics of how the US Federal Reserve worked; for that chapter Samuelson had the definite laws to build on; for the rest, he could have been smoking funny stuff.I read a J. Galbraith book on the Great Depression where he didn’t want to say that the 1929 stock market crash “caused” the Great Depression — WWII, maybe 50 million people killed, etc. Oh, how cautious Galbraith was.In the real economy, in the Great Depression, in the S&L crisis, and more, people were suffering and dying, and the academic economists were like witch doctors doing medicine.I read some of what W. Leontief had done and thought that a least it looks practical — darned simple, really simplistic, but at least close to reality. And I noticed that the academic economics community didn’t like Leontief — sick-o bummer.So, when I went to grad school, I considered some study of economics. I chatted with a famous prof: He’d written a book on econometrics, right, having fun and games with multi-variate, linear regression analysis and the normal equations. Right: He was drawing on a lot of assumptions the math needed but the economists were ignoring. Not promising; really, laughable until notice that such sick-o material was much of the best we were using to keep people from dying.The whole landscape of economics looked like witch doctor medicine from, say, 5000 years ago and with similar results — people suffering and dying.I was ready, willing, able, and eager to dig in and make some progress in economics, but right away I could see that I would be 100% alone except possibly for gangs of econ profs throwing old vegetables or old bricks at me.So, instead, I gave up on doing anything in economics and studied applied math, with theorems and proofs, where I and the people I was working with darned well KNEW we were correct and could, thank you, PROVE it beyond any doubt or criticism.I got back at the academic economists a few times and likely have at one time or another here at AVC explained how. But, my payback was not nearly strong enough — if all the academic economists were laid end to end, it would be a good thing.Heck, during the Great Depression, there was at least one literary short story and one Betty Boop cartoon that were much closer to the truth and the solution than anything I saw from Samuelson or Galbraith.There’s no doubt about the solution. Plenty of people know the solution and know it very well. They knew the solution in 1942 and implemented it, and they know it now. I suspect that Bernanke, ice cold, totally, off the back of his hand, in fantastic detail, knows the solution — at least he knows a lot. But nearly no one wants to stand up and explain the solution — due to the old vegetable and brick threat. Recently there have been some hints that basically Trump understands the solution but, like the others, is too smart just to stand up and explain.In simplest terms, but no doubt for a good solution too simple, is that in 2008 we destroyed much of our money supply, that is, the money from our credit economy (right, the multiplier effect of fractional reserve banking) and fiat money. Along the way, we destroyed much of our financial system. A guy on a family farm doesn’t really have to understand; a guy in a city very much DOES. So, for the solution, in short, we essentially have to replace the money we destroyed in 2008. For more, we have to get our financial system going again.There’s more, but this post is too long already.

  16. sigmaalgebra

    I’m not getting this. Or I do get it but am not seeing others talking about what is real here.It seems that it is common for a society to want a laboring, lower class. The extreme version is slave labor, and in the 18th and 19th centuries the US had that. Now with the open border immigration policies of Obama and his supporters on that issue, we are working hard to have a laboring, lower class.We already know that these people are supposed to be, right, we used the word, laboring which means working and working with their feet, backs, arms, and hands and not their brains. And for another word we used, they are supposed to be an underclass, that is, poor, segregated and not integrated, living in ghettos, with the usual collection of social problems, etc.So, that means that no parent wants to live in such a ghetto, to associate with those people, have their children go to a school with those people, or go to a school in the ghetto. We know that. After our efforts to have a laboring, lower class, we are just now realizing that when we get such a class we don’t want it around?So, we wanted that laboring, lower class. Presto, bingo, we got that. Now we have that. Then we look at that and say,We don’t like that. Oh, gosh, golly, that’s horrible. They have ugly social problems, and for police, courts, jails, social services, etc., those problems are really expensive. And their schools look horrible with just awful test scores, graduation rates, and environments inside the buildings — tough to have any learning going on. Gee, golly, we have to do something about those horrible schools. Maybe it’s the teachers? Maybe it’s school size or some aspects of school organization. Maybe it’s the school principles, the school administrators, the school budgets, the city superintendent of schools, the state government, the state governor, the US Department of Education, the failure of No Child Left Behind, the continuing, ugly scourges of segregation and discrimination, the failure of Common Core, etc.Come ON folks: The cause is none of those. Instead the cause is just what we did deliberately. The cause is, did I mention, we wanted a laboring, lower class and got one. That’s what we wanted; we got it; and now we have it.And have we changed our minds? Heck no! We are still going strong, the strongest since slavery in the 19th century, that we fought a bloody war over, on importing a laboring, lower class. The people we are importing are, in too many cases and on average, e.g., as in school test scores, just awful on socialization, education, the English language, US civics, etc. They can live only in ghettos. They need massive help for food, clothing, education, medical care, other social services, etc. We get some new cases of some just horrible public health problems that otherwise we eliminated in the last half of the 20th century.Look, if we want a version of slavery, then we should at least be consistent. E.g., Hitler was: He wanted to take all the lands from essentially Germany to a line from Leningrad to Moscow to Stalingrad, partition the land into estates for Germans, use the local Slavs, Jews, and Gypsies as slave labor, deliberately kill off the slave labor by over work and starvation, and, then, let the Germans repopulate the area with their descendents. Hitler had laws that forbid interbreeding. He wanted slaves but wanted to keep them out of the way and then just eliminate them.But here in the US, we want slaves, find eliminating them ugly, so then just tell ourselves that, no, they aren’t really slaves like we wanted but are humans that will “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” in the wonderful opportunity that is land of the free and home of the brave and should be grateful, or some such. Nope: It’s 21st century, deliberate, intentional slavery together with what is left over from 20th, 19th, and 18th century slavery. It a word, it’s slavery. We wanted slavery; we got slavery; we still want slavery; with open borders, etc. we are still working for more slavery.So, why, suddenly, e.g., for NYC schools, do we not want the obvious consequences of the slavery we have long and still so strongly wanted? Why are we concerned about the bad schools? We expected something else? We were the cause; with open borders, we are still causing more of it.If we want slavery, work to get slavery, and do get slavery, then we should understand that we do have slavery and should not object. I don’t get it: Why are we concerned that in parts of NYC we have the obvious results of slavery — some really bad neighborhoods and schools.There is no way we want to fix the schools, and, really, no way we can fix the schools, as long as we want open borders and slavery. Can’t have it both ways, guys.So, really, the stuff about the NYC schools is not really about schools at all but about our desires for slavery.I suggest — stop the efforts for slavery. Just stop it. Or as we are seeing, slavery is a really bad idea. So, let’s stop it. First step: Just enforce the US laws on immigration. Once we get the first step done, then, and only then, will I get interested in the second step, cleaning up the horrible, ugly, outrageous, mind-splitting, national barbed write enema results of our PAST efforts to have slavery. But for now, we have the slavery we wanted — enjoy it!For me, I’m holding my nose, turning my back, trying just to f’get about that sick-o situation, and moving on to other things.

    1. creative group

      sigmaalgraba:Let’s do a fact check on the premise of your Right-wing diatribe. Thought we were reading a David Lane manifesto.What facts are you relying upon when you type Obama’s immigration policies?The facts about them. Has deported more illegal immigrants than any predecessor.…Could have easily used the Pew Research numbers but they were higher on deportation when used in an ad to win over the Hispanic vote which failed. If either Republicans or Democrats use accurate statistics (with your posts accuracy is limited) there will be no need to fact check either side.#two-partysystemishurtingamerica#trueindependant #termlimits

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Your posts are not worth any consideration.

        1. ShanaC

          hey, sigma. not cool.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            “Cool”? No. Correct, appropriate, more than justified, considering the recent history with outrageous, totally unjustified, totally unsupported, and totally wrong nasty accusations and name calling and ad hominem attacks, yes. Sorry ’bout that.

  17. Ryan Blair

    New York State residents can officially support or oppose any bill in the state legislature using They have the option of including a private message to their state senator as well. Moreover, public comments can be left at the bottom of any bill page (using Disqus).I couldn’t find a bill in either house that aligns directly with the latest ask from City Hall, but this one appears to speak to the intention:….More info on this functionality can be found here: http://www.capitalnewyork.c

  18. ShanaC

    (Note: I’m really sick with flu-cold/cold-flu/the gross virus, if i am not sounding 100% intellectually myself, I apologize in advance.)Bloomberg and mayoral control of the schools also created really inflated housing stock prices because of districting and charters. That is the state’s problem, since some of the funding for all districts come from the state, diploma rules come from the State Board of Regents, ect. To really restore long term stability, we have to really get a handle of making sure all districts in NYC are equivalent, and not by making all districts worse, but make low performers better with equal resources (I’m looking at you, extra money from the PTA that turns some school districts in NYC into effective private school equivalents and others into super ghetto)Does the de Blasio administration have a way out (beyond everyone gets pre-k?) That is a hinging factor for Albany vs NYC vs local district control. Anyone?*sigh* only in NY would I make this argument. This is one of those moments where I wish I was having this conversation with Brad Feld, since Boulder DOESN’T have these problems.

  19. ShanaC

    Also, reading through this and trying to get the gist of elementary to middle to high school placements makes me glad I’m not a parent (yet)

  20. TamiMForman

    As a NYC school mom, I agree 1,000%.

  21. Matt Zagaja

    As a public school student I think it’s important to note that “creativity” often manifested itself in bullying, harassment, and disruptive classroom behavior that I did not really appreciate. I’m not saying that the “top-performers” were all nice people either, but as a geek it was pretty obvious where much of the harassment or the 10 minute classroom interruption where people were screwing off came from.