Michelle Rhee is most likely leaving now that Mayor Adrian Fenty was voted out. Depending on whom you read, Ron Huberman may or may not leave Chicago Public Schools now that Mayor Richard Daley is stepping down. It makes sense that much of the journalistic attention about mayoral control to date has focused on what it means for governance while the mayor-schools chief partnership is strong and the mayor is, well, the mayor. But I’m wondering now why little has been written anticipating this aspect of things—asking what might happen if some of that falls apart.
Whatever affect it has on decision-making, putting the school chief’s fate in the hands of a mayor is not necessarily more or less stable, temporally, than leaving the matter to a school board or voters. Certainly Rhee’s tenure will have been no shorter than the average schools superintendent’s (though Huberman’s, if he leaves soon, will be). Not everyone has Mike Bloomberg’s deep pockets and political longevity, but obviously New York shows that mayoral control does not ensure brief chancellor tenures.
Regardless—and while this is not precisely an example of mayoral control—an obvious question to ask in light of all this is: What happens to Mark Zuckerberg’s money if Cory Booker is voted out of Newark in four years, or Gov. Chris Christie out of Trenton, or for some reason either of them leaves sooner? I know there has been coverage of the legality of the proposed arrangement. But have questions about its potential durability in the case of political change been asked, or answered? Is the money tied to the grown-ups, or to the children?