Posts tagged "Parent Commission on School Governance"
September 11, 2009
Parents who battled the mayor over school governance and lost are regrouping and redirecting their efforts to electing sympathetic city candidates.
The new organization, NYC Kids PAC, announced a roster of candidates for City Council, Comptroller and Public Advocate they will support in the fall campaign season. Ann Kjellberg, president and spokeswoman for the PAC, said that the group has begun to collect donations and will distribute them amongst the candidates they endorse.
Many PAC steering committee members were also active in the Parent Commission on School Governance, which lobbied heavily for stronger outlets for parent involvement during the debate over mayoral control. Kjellberg said that many members were disillusioned by their experience as parents fighting for the ears of Albany lawmakers. Rather than continuing to lobby their opponents, she said, they decided to boost their political allies.
The PAC’s steering committee looked for candidates whose voting records align with the organization’s mission, which includes strengthening local control and community involvement in schools, reducing class size, opposing private sector influence in public schools and reducing standardized test preparation in classes. But the deciding factor, Kjellberg said, was each candidate’s stance against the city’s school capital program.
“We were very, very grateful and moved by those officials who stepped forth under considerable pressure from the mayor and voted their consciences on the capital plan and we wanted to encourage other officials,” she said. (more…)
July 28, 2009
One outcome of Albany’s debate over mayoral control may have nothing to do with state law. The political wrangling may end up leaving the city with permanent parent advocacy groups.
Last Friday, Democratic state senators reached a deal with Mayor Bloomberg (that may or may not pass), essentially ending the drawn-out negotiations. Yet groups that were in the thick of the political fight just last week are intent on remaining active, even if the mayoral control debate has largely ended.
Learn NY, which was set up roughly a year ago by allies of the Bloomberg administration to campaign for mayoral control’s renewal, will continue to exist until the Senate passes a bill bringing mayoral control back. After that, the group’s future is uncertain.
Learn NY spokeswoman Julie Wood refused to comment in greater detail.
On the opposite side of the debate are groups like the Campaign for Better Schools, the 3Rs Coalition, and the Parent Commission on School Governance, all of which advocated for significant changes to the 2002 school governance law, but favored keeping mayoral control in place. Each them face their own existential questions. (more…)
July 8, 2009
The Senate may be nearing an agreement on mayoral control, but now there’s a new debate — over how to increase parental involvement, and what involvement means.
At the center of the debate are the two parent groups most actively lobbying Albany, and each has its own slightly different vision.
The Parent Commission on School Governance is pushing for a kind of parent union, which it calls an Independent Parent Organization and Training Academy.
According to Patricia Connelly, a member of the Parent Commission, the organization would act like a think tank-cum-lobbying force for parent advocate groups and would be modeled on the now-defunct United Parent Association.
“It can be a place where people come together and learn from one another,” Connelly said, adding that the group would also do research and train less experienced parents.
“Right now we don’t have an institutionalized role and people say well there’s OFEA [Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy], but that’s just an arm of the Department of Education and it’s more about delivering PowerPoint presentations rather than what we really need to know to be effective advocates,” she said. (more…)
July 6, 2009
All spring, local activists who oppose mayoral control have been urging people to contact their lawmakers. But after the mayoral control law expired and Bloomberg packed the new Board of Education with his appointees anyway, it became clear that a more powerful protest was needed, according to Jitu Weusi, a longtime activist from Brooklyn.
A protest being held at 5 p.m. today outside Tweed Courthouse, education department headquarters, will highlight widespread opposition to “the mayoral control dictatorship,” Weusi said. He told me that community activists from all five boroughs have signed onto the event.
June 15, 2009
Randi Weingarten’s participation in a press conference today beside two groups who’d like to see changes in Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s mayoral control bill doesn’t mean that she’s going to fight for those changes, too. Weingarten is being overall “very positive” about the bill, a union lobbyist in Albany told me.
“It would be very unlikely that we would oppose, because we think there’s so much good in here,” the lobbyist in Albany told me. “It would only be whether or not to issue a memo in support.”
Weingarten is still hoping that a parent initiative will get added into the law, and she met with lawmakers today to promote the idea, the lobbyist said. She and the other two groups are asking the state to fund a separate organization or initiative that would give parents a voice in the policy discussion. The idea is similar to one Weingarten endorsed in a speech last year, when she urged a community coalition that had fought budget cuts to become a permanent organization.
The clarification of her participation follows confusion among lawmakers about exactly where Weingarten stands on mayoral control, a state legislator told me today. (more…)
June 4, 2009
A group of parent activists and union members is expressing anger with teachers union leader Randi Weingarten, telling her that she has dropped the ball in fighting for checks to the mayor’s power over schools.
The frustration began with a May 21 New York Post column, in which Weingarten indicated that she is open to allowing the mayor to continue appointing a majority of members to the citywide school board. A union task force recommended in February that the state legislature reverse that majority as a way to strengthen the board, known as the Panel for Education Policy or PEP.
Weingarten’s Post op/ed dismayed some members of her own union. “I was quite disappointed and angry, actually,” said Lisa North, a teacher who sat on the union’s task force to consider revisions to mayoral control.
North said the task force never seriously considered recommending that the mayor keep his majority of appointments, and so when union delegates ratified the committee’s final recommendations, she expected Weingarten to promote them. “The delegate assembly is supposed to be the highest authority of the union, and it voted for it,” she said.
In an interview today, Weingarten acknowledged that people have reached out to her with concerns about her position, including her own union members. ”I did get a couple of e-mails from members saying, ‘Why are you doing what you’re doing?’” she said. She said that she empathizes with those concerns. “I totally and completely understand and concur with the frustrations that many have that this mayor and this chancellor have not listened to and respected enough the voices of those who go to our schools, their parents, and those who teach them,” she said.
But she also said that she has to weigh concerns about checking the mayor’s power against the reasons she supported giving the mayor control in 2002. “It’s always been a balance of stability, cohesion, and responsibility, which is what mayoral control brought us, and modifying it to create sufficient checks and balances and transparency,” Weingarten said. (more…)
May 29, 2009
A group of New York City mothers are appealing to divine intervention to stop the renewal of mayoral control, with a daylong fast that starts a minute before midnight tonight.
“I am hoping that the legislators in Albany, if they don’t have direct knowledge of how bad things are for our children, that they will be influenced by the hand of the Lord on their heads,” said Benita Lovett-Rivera, one of the event’s organizers.
From tonight until 8:19 p.m. tomorrow — the official sunset — opponents of mayoral control citywide will abstain from eating and drinking. At 7 p.m. they will gather in small groups for “fervent” prayer and to sing the protest song “We Shall Overcome,” Lovett-Rivera said. She told me she has heard from nearly a thousand people who said they would participate.
The fast was the brainchild of a small group of mothers who attended a recent town hall meeting about mayoral control in Brooklyn (that Elizabeth moderated), where Major Owens, the former longtime congressman from Brooklyn, said he wished opponents of mayoral control would mobilize to stop the school governance law from being renewed, rather than just hold forums about it. (more…)
May 20, 2009
State lawmakers from New York City are rushing to register their views on mayoral control before a deal is finalized over the future of school governance in the city. One piece of legislation introduced today would gut the mayor’s school power, and it has already amassed a robust roster of supporters.
The ”Better Schools Act,” introduced today in both the Assembly and State Senate, would turn into law many of the recommendations made by the Campaign for Better Schools, the coalition of community groups which is calling for control over the city school board to be taken away from the mayor. The bill’s lead sponsor in the Assembly is, as I reported on Monday, Carl Heastie of the Bronx, and he has 15 co-sponsors in the Assembly and eight for an identical bill in the State Senate.
Here’s the laundry list of bill supporters, from the Campaign for Better Schools’ press release:
Sponsors include Assembly Members Jeff Aubry, Inez Barron, William F. Boyland, Jr., Nelson Castro, William Colton, Vivian Cook, Deborah Glick, Carl Heastie, Janelle Hyer-Spencer, Hakeem Jeffries, David Koon, Grace Meng, Nick Perry, Linda Rosenthal, Matthew Titone and Keith L. Wright. And Senators Ruben Diaz, Sr., Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Shirley Huntley, Velmanette Montgomery, Kevin Parker, Bill Perkins, John Sampson and Diane Savino
Meanwhile, members of the Parent Commission on School Governance, which is also calling for substantial curbs on the mayor’s school control, are working on lining up sponsors for a bill to support the commission’s recommendations. A member told me today that Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell of the Upper West Side has agreed to sponsor the bill, and that the group is close to narrowing in on a State Senate sponsor as well, with a goal of having legislation introduced early next week.
May 5, 2009
In the part of the city represented in Albany by the man who helped give control of the city schools to Mayor Bloomberg, both community boards are asking lawmakers to take some of that power away.
Community Board 1, one of two boards in Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s downtown Manhattan district, passed a set of resolutions last Tuesday that advise lawmakers to alter mayoral control in the city dramatically. In addition to calling on lawmakers to empower district parent councils and place checks on the mayor’s authority, CB 1 endorsed the recommendations put forth in March by the Parent Commission on School Governance. The Parent Commission, which draws its members from across the city, is calling on state lawmakers to slash the number of mayoral appointees to the city school board and shift more power to parents.
CB1′s set of resolutions got a couple of press mentions last week, at the same time as another community board resolution against the current form of mayoral control slipped under the radar. Members of Community Board 3, which covers Chinatown and the Lower East Side, voted unanimously (with one abstention) to endorse the Parent Commission’s recommendations.
Together, CB 1 and CB 3 make up the entirety of Silver’s 64th Assembly District. With just eight weeks until state lawmakers’ deadline to decide what to do about mayoral control, the resolutions place Silver in the difficult position of having brokered the deal that gave Bloomberg control over the schools but representing politically engaged constituents who wish he hadn’t. (more…)
March 13, 2009
After a long wait, a commission of parents led by outspoken critics of the Department of Education is unveiling its own proposal for how to change mayoral control. In testimony delivered to the Bronx Assembly hearing on mayoral control this morning, parents painted an ideal picture in which parent voices would gain power while the mayor would lose it.
Their proposal is topped off by a radical answer to the question of how to change the Panel for Educational Policy — the effective citywide school board — that would both strengthen the powers of the board and reshape who sits on it. The board would include just three mayoral appointees compared to six parent representatives, plus a City Council appointee, an appointee of the public advocate,and four expert members selected jointly by the board.
The commission is also proposing a stronger role for the CEC elected parent councils in each district. A key complaint about Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership has been that parents are not included in decision-making about the schools. Some have criticized the DOE for not consulting those councils when choosing to open and close schools, as is required by law.
Lisa Donlan, a commission member from Manhattan and the president of a CEC, testified that the state should create an “ombudsperson” role who would have the legal authority to advocate for parents when they aren’t comfortable advocating for themselves. This role addresses the DOE’s Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy, which Freeman called “a way of distracting [parents], but not a way of helping them.” (more…)