Monday, March 5, 2007

On Air and in Church, Mayor Takes a Tone of Reassuranc...

I read with interest the Mayor's statements. It is a real shame he hopes to try to cover up his lack of support by playing the civil rights/race card. Especially if he had done his homework it really isn't the way he states.

Yes we will all agree that city schools have been under funded for years. The most needy receiving $1,000's less than their counterparts in the suburbs. Thus the CFE lawsuit, which by the way the state fought for years. However, he doesn't mention that even with the lack of funds, some districts, and I can only speak from my personal experience, were able to use the funds they received and still increase student achievement year after year. I spent the last 20 years before moving into high schools in District 22 in south Brooklyn. A truly diverse area with over 30,000 students, 33 schools. 70% minority, with over 33 different languages spoken. By the time I graduated from the District we had over half our schools title 1. Yet, each year we were able to show improvements. We had only one school in need of improvement and we were working on it. We had without a doubt one of the most active Presidents Councils and Parents Associations of any place in the city. We had an active, collaborative District Leadership Team and as a result every school had an active informed School Leadership team. Our Superintendent and his deputies were willing to work with parents at every level and there was mutual respect. Was it perfect, nothing ever is, but on a whole it was a model of what a good district should be. Were we unique, no I don't think so. I know from speaking with parents throughout the city what we had existed in many other areas.

We all spoke out that some changes were needed. We all asked for increased funding, particularly for the schools that did not receive title one or other entitlement monies because they were actually working. By the way it will be those successful schools that will be hurt the most by this new plan, because at least with the districts, these schools could get some assistance.

The Mayor and Chancellor want to make it about the haves and have nots, but actually I think it is about good policy. They threw the baby out with the bath water five years ago because they would not consult with or listen to parents. We asked for change, but we wanted to keep what was working and spread it out to the schools that weren't. We were not totally against mayoral control, we only asked that there be checks and balances as in any part of our democracy. We all know to paraphrase: "absolute power corrupts absolutely" and the truth to that statement can be seen with what is happening in the NYC school system.

As I have said many, many times, a large part of our success was due to the fact that we had knowledgeable, trained parents who worked with their schools. This is the component that will most definitely not exist in the new plan and a new Parent Czar will not create that component.

To be fair, some of the ideas where good, but the implementation when awry. Ending social promotion was good, but basing it all on one test was not. A standard curriculum city wide was good, but micro-managing teachers to the point of telling them when to sit and when to stand wasn't.

Hiring consultants with millions of dollars and hiring even more top management at even more millions when those funds could have better been used at the school level was so so wrong. When that money could have been used to bring in arts, science, enrichment, etc. into the schools and to bring down class size or at least where the room wasn't available to decrease the teacher to student ratio.

There was much that was good in the system, good curriculums, good practices. That is what they should have grabbed onto and built on. If only they had spread those positives into the entire system, then right now we wouldn't be having this discussion. My child will be leaving the system in the next couple of years but the young children in the system right now cannot continue to be used in this grand experiment.

Total mayoral control must end, the sooner the better. Should the mayor have any control, yes of course, but it must be limited by an Board of Education, that is not appointed by or answerable to the Mayor with real powers and school boards and districts that also have real power. Checks and balances.... our founding fathers saw the wisdom to limit the powers of the government by dividing it up and putting in checks and balances, so should the legislature.

Dorothy GiglioPresidentRegion 6 High SchoolsPresident Council

1 comment:

Patrick Sullivan said...

The Mayor seems to be stuck in pattern of having his comments contradicted by his administration. Last week it was his new parents czar, this week Times explains that DoE stats contradict his comments.