Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Public School Parents Go To Albany
Today is the annual CPAC Lobbying Day. CPAC is the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council, whose members are elected by PTA presidents in each school district. Unlike the various Mayoral appointees who represent the Department of Education in dealings with parents, CPAC is elected by parents to represent our interests.
Buses full of CPAC members and parent volunteers left for Albany early this morning. They will see their State Senators and State Assemblymembers, the people who ultimately are responsible for NYC public schools, who control the budget and who will decide, in 2009, whether to renew the experiment in mayoral control of schools.
The CPAC agenda is available online. A page on each position is available from the files section of the CPAC group site. Parents should take a few minutes to review these positions, all of which are opposed by Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Klein.
CPAC has prepared the following summary of their positions:
"On Parent Empowerment: We support the full restoration of Community School Districts, and District Superintendents with the authority to implement policy, address community needs, and respond to parental complaints. All schools, including those in the empowerment and contractor networks, should remain within the district structure. Community District Education Council’s (CDEC’s) need to be strengthened as conduits for public input into the capital plan, zoning, and education policy. We support training and oversight to guarantee functioning Parent Associations (PA’s) and School Leadership Teams (SLT’s) in all schools.
On Governance: We urge the Legislature to hold hearings on the negative effects of unchecked unilateral Mayoral control, and to pass legislation allowing the NYC City Council, with input from parents and other stakeholders, to provide the necessary checks and balances on Department of Education (DoE) policy.
On Class Size Reduction: We endorse the Nolan/Lancman bill that would require that a minimum of 25% of the additional state funds our schools receive be invested in reducing class size in all grades, to levels that currently exist in the rest of the state. In the CFE case, the Court of Appeals found that classes were too large in our schools to provide our children with their constitutional right to an adequate education, and that their excessive class sizes led directly to low achievement and high dropout rates. It is time to make smaller classes a reality for NYC children.
On CFE and Accountability: We support the proposal to provide $5.4 billion in additional aid to NYC schools, and urge the Legislature to adopt the Nolan/Lancman bill, requiring that a minimum of 25% of these funds be invested in reducing class size in all grades. Robust accountability measures and public input must also be required, including City Council approval of the city’s CFE spending plan, in consultation with CPAC and other parent groups, as well as regular audits of the spending of these funds by the State Comptroller’s office.
On High-Stakes Testing: We urge the State to develop an effective, valid and reliable assessment system to evaluate students’ progress, based on multiple measures, and to ban the use of any set of tests contrary to the recommendations of the American Educational Research and the National Board on Educational Testing. No standardized test or set of tests should be used as the sole or primary criterion to determine whether a student is promoted, retained, admitted to or allowed to graduate from school.
On English Language Learners (ELLs): We urge the State to monitor schools to ensure that ELL students receive the necessary instructional services and hold schools accountable for failing to meet the needs of these students. The amount and scope of Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) aid should be expanded, to provide key components of an Immigrant/ELL Success Agenda.
On Charter Schools: We oppose lifting the cap on charter schools in NYC, because this would divert critical resources, attention, and classroom space from our traditional public schools. Also, charter schools do not enroll their fair share of ELL and special education students. Allowing more charter schools to be formed would encourage the creation of two separate and unequal school systems. Finally, we vehemently oppose any legislation that would allow the Chancellor to authorize charter schools with no appeal or judicial review.
On Cell Phone Ban: We urge the State legislature to overturn the (DOE) cell phone ban, which violates parents' rights to ensure their children's safety."