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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tweed's consultation with parents, or lack thereof

Mike Meenan of NY1 had an excellent story last night about the Chancellor’s failure to consult with any Community Education Councils before closing schools in their districts – contrary to the language and the spirit of state law, which says the following:

"The chancellor shall consult with the affected community district education council before... substantially expanding or reducing such an existing school or program within a community district.”

Yet Klein never bothered to do so in this case – nor in previous years. James Liebman said that these decisions were made because of long-term educational failure over many years -- yet several of the schools being closed are in good standing with both the state and federal government.

Liebman also claimed in his testimony to the City Council that he had conferred with many experts, union officials, and other “educational and community leaders” who provided “valuable feedback” during the development of the school grading system. Several of those cited in his testimony contradicted him later that same the day, including Ernest Logan, the President of the the principal’s union, Amanda Gentile, a VP of the UFT, and Ann Cook from the Consortium for Performance Standards.

His testimony also included the statement that his office had “directly reached over 20,000 parents in conversation about explanation of the Progress report and associated accountability tools.”

Yet according to an article in today's NY Sun, these sessions included visits to Laundromats and trips on the subway! It turns out that DOE employees had handed out flyers about the parent surveys at many of these places -- but there's no evidence that any real “consultations” or “conversations” about the school progress reports took place, and it’s not clear how many of the 20,000 people they supposedly contacted were actually parents.

Check out this list, provided by the DOE, which include not only visits to laundromats, but also a dentist office (each time supposedly involving 50 parents), and assorted trips on the #1,#2, #3, #4 trains – and just so the IND didn’t feel left out, also the E, F, G, V, and the R trains.

Many of these direct “conversations” appear to have occurred during trainings of parent coordinators – who after all, are not necessarily parents themselves.

In short, another incredible product of the unaccountable Accountability office at Tweed.

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