NYSSBA hires Sanders as lobbyist

On Board Online • Top Stories • November 3, 2008

By Brian M. Butry
Communications Coordinator

NYSSBA has hired Steven Sanders, the former chairman of the state Assembly Education Committee, to lobby the Legislature on the issue of mayoral control of school districts.

After spending nearly 30 years in the state Assembly, Sanders is now a partner in the consulting firm CraneSanders. First elected in 1978, he represented the East Side of lower Manhattan and served as chairman of the Education Committee from 1995 until retiring from the Legislature in 2005.

Sanders, a Democrat, was a key architect of the law authorizing mayoral control of the New York City public schools. With the law up for renewal in 2009, NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer said Sanders will work with the Association to ensure any revisions to that law will include a greater opportunities for community representation, including a school board with a significant role in setting policy.

Sanders will also work to preserve the school board form of governance in communities across New York – especially in the large city school districts of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers.

“Public schools need public participation,” said Kremer. “The reauthorization of this law is a unique opportunity to increase parental involvement and community representation in the nation’s largest public school system.”

Sanders said NYSSBA’s goal is consistent with the law that he drafted.

“The original 2002 law authorizing mayoral control was not intended to give the mayor absolute and unquestioned power over all education policy. Among its provisions was the creation of a high-level, citywide ‘Board of Education’ to provide a measure of oversight and checks and balances,” said Sanders.

“The citywide board was expected to exercise its own judgment and due diligence on policy matters of citywide and systemic importance and also be responsive to the views of the public.

“However, that board has been rendered virtually irrelevant,” he said. “This is absolutely contrary to the intent of the law.”

“Steve will be a fantastic supplement to our advocacy efforts,” said David A. Little, director of governmental relations. “We look forward to having him on the team.”

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