Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Learn NY - and the future of our schools

Many parents have been asking us about Learn NY -- after having been contacted by this organization.

Learn NY is an organization established by allies of Mayor Bloomberg to retain his choke hold on our schools after the current governance system sunsets in June 2009.

The organization’s paid representatives, including Peter Hatch, Robin Warren, Brian Keeler, and Julie Wood, all claim that their activities are not funded directly by Bloomberg, but so far have refused to divulge who is paying their salaries. They admit to having raised millions of dollars, and have hired several prominent and well-connected lobbying and consulting firms to push their agenda with the Legislature in Albany.

The problem is that there are few if any involved public school parents who trust this administration’s good intentions, after having witnessed six years of unilateral, strong-arm tactics, in which the Mayor and Chancellor have ignored their views, and have imposed misguided policies on our children’s schools. So Learn NY is hard at work, trying to recruit parents and make them believe that they are actually interested in what parents think.

On the Learn NY website, they may say they have “made open dialogue with parents a priority”, but they have turned down several offers to meet with established NYC parent groups, and have so far refused to speak at any public forum that includes representatives from groups with opposing views. They also claim to want to increase parent input and transparency in the current governance system, but have not made any substantive proposals on how this would be achieved, except to suggest that there should be more public hearings.

Over the last six years, there have been numerous public hearings held by the Chancellor and/or other Department of Education representatives, but always after they have already decided what their policies would be. Never has this administration’s decisions been affected by a single comment, suggestion or proposal put forward by any parent or parent group. More public hearings without an administration that actually has to listen to the views of parents and take them into account before making decisions would be useless.

The position of Learn NY on the need to improve transparency also seems to be hypocritical, since they refuse to be transparent about who is funding their own operations, and their tactics are anything but transparent. An anonymous person left pro-Mayoral control comments on several blogs, until he was eventually unmasked as Brian Keeler of Learn NY. Moreover, their website includes much distorted data and PR spin, rather than actual fact.

Instead of Mayoral dictatorship, we need a system in which the Mayor would have to forge a real partnership with parents. Instead of PR spin, we need the truth. For more information about our concerns, please visit the NYC public school parent blog. Send us a message at NYCPublicSchoolParents@gmail.com.

And please, testify at the hearings on Mayoral control to share your views; the schedule is here.

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