Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Letter to the Board of Regents about the need for parent input in the search for a new Commissioner

Public school parents, the most important stakeholders of our educational system, have been completely left out of the discussion when it comes to policy making at the state level.  We believe that for the sake of our children, this must change, and that the search for new Education Commissioner is the time to begin.  See letter below sent today to the NYS Board of Regents, along with more than one hundred parent leaders and organizations that signed on in support.  A pdf of the letter with the full set of signers is  here.

May 8, 2011

Dear New York State Board of Regents:
We, the undersigned parent and community leaders, urge that there be an open and transparent search for the new Commissioner of Education, and that you appoint a significant number of public school parents to the search committee, to ensure that parents have input into the final choice.
Over the next few months and years, the State Education Department will likely make critical decisions about the future direction of our children’s schools, relating to school closings, charter schools, testing, graduation requirements, Contracts for Excellence and school funding, the possible elimination of seat time, and the expansion of computer-based testing and online learning.
The State Education Department is the primary government agency whose responsibility is to hold districts accountable throughout the state. Parents are the most important stakeholders in the school system, and yet, too often, the Department has not been accountable to parents, has not been transparent in its decision making, and has rarely consulted parents as to our views or priorities for our schools. 
For example, the Department appointed a sixty-three member task-force to come up with a new system of principal and teacher evaluation, but failed to put a single public school parent on the taskforce.
It is critical that the next Commissioner of Education should be receptive to parent input, transparent in his or her decision-making, and hold all the school districts accountable to the law and equitable policies.
To ensure that this occurs, we believe that public school parents should be an integral part of the selection and appointment process.
Yours sincerely,
Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters
Sue Dietrich and Ben Greene, co-chairs, Chancellor Parent Advisory Council, NYC
Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, President, President of the NAACP New York State Conference
NYC Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ)
Alliance for Quality Education
Margaret Chin, NYC Council Member
Mark Mishler, Albany, Parents Across America -NY State
Mark Friedman, Mary B. Adams, Howard Eagle, Rochester Community Education Task Force
Patrick J. Sullivan, Manhattan member of the Panel for Educational Policy, NYC Board of Education
Susan Polos, SOS Katonah-Lewisboro, Parents Across America – Westchester NY
Michele Faljean, President, Staten Federation of PTAs, NYC  (and about 80 others)

1 comment:

Bill Gunlocke, a city reader said...

If whatever commissioner is in place doesn't focus on reading above all else, it won't matter much at all who it is.

This, you may find relevant: