Wednesday, January 24, 2018

News & video of yesterday's press conference, where NYC parent leaders demand a voice in selecting the next Chancellor, and the mayor's response (so far)

Yesterday's press conference where parent leaders from the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council and the Community and Citywide Education Councils demanded that the Mayor give them a seat at the table in selecting a new Chancellor was covered by the Daily News, the Wall Street Journal, Chalkbeat, and NY1.  (The WSJ article is posted in the comment section below.)

The Mayor's response, according to the Daily News?

"While parent and community input is an important part of our chancellor search, the decision is ultimately the Mayor's, who is a proud parent of former NYC public school students,” said De Blasio spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie."

What?  How is parent or community input part of the Mayor's search, when the search has been undertaken in complete secrecy, no one has been asked their views and potential candidates don't even know how to apply?  And the suggestion here appears to justify excluding parents , because de Blasio was once a public school parent himself, is very curious.  By the same token, one might argue that he shouldn't have had to be elected by voters for a second term, because he was once a voter himself.

Lindsey Christ of NY1 dug up the 2012 video showing when de Blasio ran for office originally, he described how he would select a Chancellor this way: 

"With a serious serious public screening. Cathy Black was pushed down our throats because of mayoral control gone to an undemocratic level.  No one said mayoral control meant a mayoral narrow inability to communicate, to give the public a role, to air ideas and decisions before they were made.  We need a more democratic small "d" version of mayoral control and we need a chancellor who is presented to the public not just forced down their throat."

Here is Lindsey's tweet today, with a response from Kim Watkins, CEC 3 President:

The Mayor's argument now seems to be that holding a public screening with parent input would discourage potential candidates .  But as David Bloomfield pointed out yesterday in Chalkbeat, this sort of public vetting goes on all the time in other districts across the country:

In those districts, community consensus is usually reached on a job description with desired qualifications. The post is widely advertised, often by a specialized superintendent search firm that conducts an initial review of confidential applications. A list of qualified candidates is presented to the Board of Education, which further culls the still-private list to arrive at three to five finalists.\\

After the candidates are given a chance to inform their current employers, they are publicly announced and interviews scheduled. In the ensuing weeks, the public and press explore finalists’ records. Members of the screening committee may even visit their home districts. Candidate interviews are often televised or streamed online. The position is then offered after a period of post-interview public comment and board deliberation.

Right now a similar process is occurring in Massachusetts, where three finalists who applied to be appointed State Education Commissioner are about to appear in public to answer questions:

The candidates were selected among 18 applicants by the preliminary screening committee made up of five board members who are voting members of the committee and 10 non-voting members from the public.  The education board will interview the finalists at a public meeting on Jan. 26, 2018 at the Omni Parker House in Boston.

This is far better than the haphazard process that brought us such Chancellors as Cathy Black in the recent past.  If candidates have the gumption to run the nation's largest school district, they should also have the confidence to appear before the public and explain what they would do in the job.

As David Bloomfield concludes,

A thoughtful, transparent process would be a win-win for the mayor, enhancing his progressive credentials while allowing him to remain in the driver’s seat. A public search would also be a win for the city and the next chancellor, who would arrive with more of a popular mandate than if she or he was vetted and hired behind closed doors...A public process makes sense, and the moment is now.

A video of  yesterday's entire press conference is below, thanks to Norm Scott. 

Parents Demand de Blasio Give Them Role in Chancellor Selection from MORE-UFT/GEM on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Parent leaders demand NYC Mayor give parents a voice in choice of a new schools Chancellor

Jessamyn Lee,Co-Chair, Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council (credit S. Ochshorn)

For immediate release: January 23, 2018
For more information: Leonie Haimson,; 917-435-9329

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, leaders of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council (CPAC), representing all the PTAs and Parent Associations in NYC public schools, along with the leaders of the Education Council Consortium, representing the elected and appointed members of the Community and Citywide Education Councils, along with about 30 other parent leaders,  gathered on the steps of Tweed
Marco Batistella, CPAC co-chair (credit S. Ochshorn)
Courthouse, the NYC Department of Education headquarters.  As representatives of more than one million public school parents, they demanded that Mayor de Blasio implement a transparent selection process for a new Chancellor, and give parents a voice in this process, as
he promised to do when he first ran for Mayor, instead of the quiet, internal decision that he currently plans.  

If there is a public vetting that includes the input of parents and community members, the likelihood will be that the individual selected will work well with parents and be responsive to their concerns.  As the first step in devising  this process, they asked to meet with the Mayor as soon as possible.

Shino Tanikawa, Co-Chair ECC, President NYC Kids PAC (credit S.Ochshorn)
Jessamyn Lee, the Co-Chair of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory said: “The Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council (CPAC) urges Mayor de Blasio to honor Chancellor Farina's commitment to parent engagement by including parents in the selection of the new Schools Chancellor. We are partners in the education of our children. The city trusts parents to participate as partners in the hiring of our school principals and local superintendents. The 1.1 million students in our school system are wholly disenfranchised, represented only by the voices and activism of their parents. For the Mayor to deny parents the opportunity to represent the interests of our children in this critical decision is to ignore the voices of our most vulnerable, underrepresented New Yorkers. CPAC insists that parents be included in the hiring of the Department of Education's new leader. “

NeQuan McLean, Co-chair, ECC (credit S. Ochshorn)

Shino Tanikawa, the Co-Chair of NYC Kids PAC and the co-President of the Education Council Consortium said, “I sincerely hope the Mayor considers an open and public selection process that includes parent leaders.  This is an opportunity to ensure that the next Chancellor has the qualities and qualifications necessary to run the nation's largest public school system and is someone who can truly collaborate with all stakeholders including parents.”

NeQuan McLean, the Co-Chair of the Education Council Consortium said: “The next chancellor will need to address the challenge of ‘separate is not equal’ in NYC’s highly segregated school system.  NYC students deserve a chancellor who will work to stop the well- documented harm done to the majority of students who attend our public schools. These students are children with disabilities, English Language Learners and children from economically disadvantaged communities. They are our most vulnerable students with the most to gain as educated and career-ready citizens. Our next chancellor needs to be a champion for these children and all children in our public school system.”

Pam Stewart,  CCHS (credit: S. Ochshorn)
Eduardo Hernandez, CEC 8 (credit S. Ochshorn)
Marco Batistella, CPAC Co-Char, Pam Stewart of the Citywide Council of High Schools, Eduardo Hernandez of the Community Education Council in District 8, Nancy Northrup of the Queens High School Presidents Council, and many other parent leaders explained why it was critical for parents to have a real voice in the selection process, to ensure that the next Chancellor will be successful in collaborating with parents for the benefit of  NYC children. 

For more information, see the CPAC letter here: ; 


Friday, January 19, 2018

Update: Parents and Privacy Advocates React to NY Student Data Breach

UPDATE:  The COO of Questar says that there is no evidence that a former employee was responsible, and doesn't know how this happened:   "Questar Assessment's chief operating officer says the company doesn't know who accessed personal information of 52 elementary students in New York state or why....State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said she was told that Questar suspected a former employee, but Questar Chief Operating Officer Brad Baumgartner later said there wasn't any evidence to support that."

Read more here:

Read more here:
Meanwhile, the personal data of 663 students in Mississippi was also breached, including their test score data.  Why no NY student test scores were accessed and even if we can be sure that is the case is still a mystery.  Clearly, many unanswered questions remain, including the impact of the breach on NY opt out rates,  as Jeanette Deutermann and I discussed on LI Talk Radio on Monday.

Articles about the data breach were published in the NYT, Chalkbeat and elsewhere.  According to NYSED, the data of ten NYC students at PS 15 Jackie Robinson school in Queens was illegally accessed and 31 students on Long Island.


For more information contact:
Lisa Rudley, (917) 414-9190;
Leonie Haimson, 917-435-9329;

Parents and Privacy Advocates React to NY Student Data Breach

Yesterday, the New York State Education Department announced that their testing vendor, Questar, suffered a data breach that included student names, student identification numbers, school names, grade levels and, in some cases, teacher names of students who had taken computerized NYS assessments. NYSED has assured us that no test scores, IEPs, or other highly sensitive data were breached. According to Questar, a former employee is suspected of carrying out this breach and only 52 students were affected.  Check the above link for the schools and corresponding number of students in each whose information was breached. 

NYSED has acted swiftly, demanding that Questar perform an independent security audit, reset passwords on all user accounts, and submit a corrective action plan.  In addition, the NYS Education Commissioner has referred the matter to the New York State Attorney General for possible prosecution. Yet many questions remain, including whether computerized testing is more vulnerable to breaches, how we can be certain that the information of more students wasn’t affected, and whether Questar violated the terms of its contract with NYSED.  We have asked the NYS Education Department to provide a copy of its contract with Questar in order to learn what specific security measures were mandated in the first place.

The NYSED Chief Privacy Officer, Temitope Akinyemi, has held two recent meetings with a Data Privacy Advisory Council, whose members include Lisa Rudley of NYSAPE and Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, along with other privacy advocates and district officials, to begin the long-delayed process of developing regulations to implement the 2014 student privacy law, NYS Education Law  § 2-d.

NYSED is also planning to hold public hearings in April and May of this year so that parents and other stakeholders statewide can provide input as to what privacy and security protections should be included, and what provisions should be added to the Parents’ Bill of Privacy Rights. 

Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy said, “This breach serves to remind us all that the state and vendors should minimize the amount of personal student data collected, and maximize the methods used to protect it.”

Jeanette Deutermann of Long Island Opt-Out and Co-founder of NYSAPE said, “Although parents opt out of state assessments for many reasons, protecting their children’s data is one of those reasons. This breach makes it clear that that reason is justified.”

Eileen Graham, a Rochester parent and education activist commented, "Given the widespread use of technology, a breach of this nature must not happen again.  Protecting our children's data and privacy should be the highest priority.”

Deborah Brooks of the Port Washington Advocates for Public Education added, “This is not the first student data breach and, unfortunately, it won’t be the last. Every day, schools collect and share our children’s computer data, usually without our consent or even our knowledge.”

Concluded Lisa Rudley, co-founder of NYSAPE, “I hope that NYSED moves quickly to advise districts and schools on how to best protect and secure personal student data.”

In the meantime, parents, teachers, and district administrators and school staff may want to consult the privacy language in the model vendor contract developed by the Massachusetts Student Privacy Alliance.