December 18, 2007 (GBN News): There has been a great deal of skepticism over the claim by NY City Department of Education Accountability Czar James Liebman that the DOE has “directly reached over 20,000 parents in conversation about explanation of the Progress report and associated accountability tools”. Even with the release of a list of the numerous venues where parents have been engaged, such as laundromats and subways, doubts continue to persist. However, GBN News has obtained a DOE document detailing significant instances of parent consultations, which went beyond just the Progress Reports to encompass other DOE policies. The document appears to lend credibility to DOE claims that these consultations actually influenced Department decisions.
The document details three particular examples of decisions and policies that were shaped through parent consultation. One involved the DOE ban on possession of cell phones in schools, and arose from a consultation in a laundromat in Glen Oaks, Queens. The document states that a DOE official spoke there to a Mr. James Bryce, who gave his address as Creedmore Psychiatric Center and who claimed to be a parent of “at least dozens of children”. Mr. Bryce, according to the document, stated that he had to drop out of school because “cell phones ringing all day in class were out to get me and were trying to ruin my test scores”. It was apparently the concern that other students could be similarly afflicted that convinced Chancellor Klein to step up the confiscation of cell phones in random scanning.
Another important consultation involved Mayor Bloomberg himself, and resulted in the major school bus cuts of last winter, and more recently the reduction of special education busing. The Mayor consulted with Mr. Jeeves Bond, a parent of two who also happens, coincidentally, to be Mr. Bloomberg’s SUV limo driver. After hearing Mr. Bond frequently lose his temper at the large number of school buses blocking the city’s roads, the Mayor realized that this “road rage” problem could be solved simply be reducing the number of buses on the city streets. When the consultant firm of Alzarez and Marsal told the DOE that such reductions could even save money, it only confirmed the desirability of the cuts.
Finally, the document shows that the firing of a popular principal, Isaiah Wallace of MS 422 in Brooklyn, was actually the result of a consultation with a large number of people who overwhelmingly felt that he should be canned. At a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, Chancellor Joel Klein consulted with a capacity crowd of nearly 19,000 people, many of them parents. He heard the clear consensus of this group as they chanted in unison, “Fire Isaiah”. The Chancellor realized that the group could only have been referring to Mr. Wallace, because his school had received an F on the recent school Progress Report.
A source at the DOE confirmed to GBN News the authenticity of this document, and maintained that it proves Mr. Liebman had been telling the truth when he asserted that thousands of parents were consulted by the DOE. However, the source refused to confirm or deny that the DOE plans to soon replace the district CDEC’s with local movie theater audiences.