En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Your Nabe
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

With one unified voice, Parents sticking together

There’s a new group representing parents as politicians decide the future of the public school system.

More
than 25 community organizations — including the Association of
Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Alliance for Quality
Education (AQE) Make the Road New York, New York City Coalition for
Educational Justice (CEJ), and National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People (NAACP) — have joined forces to create the Campaign
for Better Schools.

The new group is meant to unify parents’ voices as politicians prepare to redesign the school system.

“As
a public school parent, I am intimately familiar with the frustrations
of mayoral control,” said City Councilmember Bill de Blasio. “For the
past several years we’ve been dealing with a complete information black
hole when it comes to education. We can no longer let one man make all
the decisions. In the months ahead, we must work with the state to
create a system that has greater accountability, transparency, and
community involvement.”

In
January, state legislators will begin to review the effectiveness of a
state law that granted Mayor Michael Bloomberg total control over the
school system. Before that law sunsets in June, politicians will decide
whether to renew it as is, modify it, or abolish it and create a new
form of school governance.


Through the Campaign for Better
Schools, Brooklyn community organizations want to ensure that
politicians consider the concerns of parents, students and educators.

Mayoral
control under the Bloomberg administration has left parents isolated
and ignored by city Department of Education (DOE) officials, parents
assert. Parents have long complained about the DOE’s penchant for
making major decisions, such as closing large high schools, without
seeking prior input from parents or Community Education Councils (CEC).

If
mayoral control is renewed, parents say it should be modified to ensure
that the mayor and DOE officials consider the opinions of the public.

“There
need to be mechanisms in place that allow for parents to have
meaningful input without having to bang down doors,” said Victoria
Bousquet, a CEJ parent leader and mother of two children at Megar Evers
Preparatory School in Crown Heights.

James Dandridge, president
of District 18’s CEC in Canarsie and East Flatbush, has suggested that
the city create an advisory board of parents from School Leadership
Teams (SLT) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) to oversee the DOE.

“The
mayor’s despotic rule of the schools must end,” said State Senator
Kevin Parker.  “The mayor has done nothing with his power but hold
people out of the process instead of bringing them together. I
personally will not be voting on anything that does not drastically
change the way things are done in our school system.”

“No matter
who you are, no one person should ever alone be responsible for all
education decisions for 1.1 million schoolchildren,” Bousquet said.