In response, the Mayor said at his news conference that those of those of us who are calling for real change only want to “subvert the system and sit around and complain and not make it any better.”
No one who participated in the focus groups was ever out to “subvert the system.” We volunteered in good faith and spent many hours over two days, to provide realistic and relevant suggestions so that this survey would be useful. We were told that our input would determine the questions asked. Instead, most of the issues we cared about were censored, for no apparent reason.
Moreover, those who signed our letter include members of CECs, President’s councils and other active, engaged parents who work hard every day, for no pay and little recognition to try to make this system work better for our kids. Not one of them can be called a slacker or a complainer.
We were all extremely disappointed that our input was ignored – and that questions about class size, overcrowding, the amount of testing and test prep in our schools, the curriculum, the principal’s attitude towards parent input and involvement, and/or whether there is a functional School Leadership Team in our schools were all omitted.
There is also nothing in the survey that relates to the specific needs or satisfaction of two populations especially badly served by our schools: ELL and special ed students. Instead, there are many questions that did not come from us and whose rationale is difficult to explain.
For example, here’s one: “How often during this school year have you contacted a teacher or other adult at your child’s school to share with them important information about your child’s learning?” The choices given are “At least once a week” (!), “About once a month”, “ Once every few months”, “Once or twice this school year” or “Never.” The same question, with slightly different variations, is repeated four times– and for no apparent reason, except to put the responsibility on us if our children are not getting the education they deserve.
In the press release yesterday, the Chancellor proclaims grandly: "Our ads say, 'When one parent speaks, schools listen; when one million parents speak, schools change,' and it's true. I'm looking forward to learning from our parents, teachers, and students.”
His statement implies that if we all just responded to the survey, he would listen to us and adjust his priorities accordingly. Yet from the very beginning of the process, representatives from DOE and KPMG made it clear that no questions would be allowed that pertained to any systemic problems at our schools, the style of leadership at Tweed, the many restructurings, and/or whether any of the administration's changes have helped our schools succeed.
So it is
So it ishighly disingenuous for the Chancellor to claim now that that he expects to “learn” anything as a result of the survey, when the survey was explicitly designed to omit any questions that might pertain to his leadership or overall direction.
Moreover, even on the school level, the results of the parent survey will only account for 3-5% of any school’s grade. Instead, 85% of the grade will be determined by test scores, as filtered through many manipulations and formulas that no one will understand. For more on this see our blog here:Last year, I emailed Jim Liebman, the head of the accountability initiative, and asked him whether there would be any accountability system proposed for those running
Rather than waiting forever, we will design and distribute our own survey, which will include not only questions that were left out of the censored version, but also about how we feel about the direction of those running Tweed-- who once again, have shown how little regard they have for real parent input, even when it come to the design of the parent survey itself. More on this, soon.
For news about the parent survey and our call for a boycott, click here for News 4 and here for Channel 7 news. Here for WNYC radio.