City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) did something rare and unusual for an elected official last week. After signing on to a hastily drawn Council resolution opposing Cathleen Black as the new city schools chancellor, he realized he had made a mistake.
What is so astounding and rare is that he admitted it in public, calling it “a rush to judgment” and then “asking that my name be removed from that resolution” — a sequence of events that rarely if ever happens today in politics. Halloran sets the tone for ethical and honest governance in the Council.
Many other legislators, notorious for straddling the fence on controversial issues, were busy checking with lobbyists and special interests before crafting their public position papers. Playing both sides of the issue by putting out generic press releases makes Halloran’s decision even more remarkable.
With a school system still in crisis, it is unfortunate that the knee-jerk reaction of so many local officials was to shut the door on Black’s suitability to be the next chancellor — even before she was given a chance to be heard. Shame on Community District Education Council 26 Chairman Rob Caloras and Queens Civic Congress President Pat Dolan for jumping on the same opposition bandwagon. Their harsh reaction does a disservice to parents and students who deserve prudent judgment and thoughtful consideration regarding such an important decision.
The chancellor’s No. 1 priority must always be the city’s schoolchildren. The United Federation of Teachers’ No. 1 priority will always be its union members. While most of the time these two interests coincide, they do not always, which is why an independent chancellor is essential. By jumping on the UFT bandwagon, CDEC 26 and the QCC failed to exercise the thoughtful consideration expected of them.
Glen Oaks Village
©2010 Community News Group
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