Benedetto announced this was to be only the first of many hearings and roundtables they plan to hold to engage other advocates, academics, educators, etc. Assemblymembers Mike Reilly of Staten Island and Alicia Hyndman of Queens, both former CEC Presidents, along with AMs Joanne Simon of Brooklyn and Harvey Epstein of Manhattan were there and asked lots of good questions.
Many CEC members and others spoke decried the lack of transparency, accountability, checks and balances, and real parent and community input into DOE decision-making. No one testified strongly in favor of the current system except for Chancellor Carranza, who insisted it was the best system he had ever worked under because it allowed him to coordinate with other city agencies and make fast policy changes with little interference.
Council Member Mark Treyger testified that the Council should have a stronger role in making policy, perhaps by putting an appointed member on the Panel for Educational Policy. Several of us suggested a Commission be formed to examine these issues more closely and gain more public input. I also proposed that the Legislature create the position of an independent DOE ombudsperson, to respond to parent concerns.
My testimony follows, but in response to questions I also discussed many other issues, including the recommendations of the Parent Commission that we formed in 2008-9, school overcrowding, how DOE is shutting out parents by closing District leadership team meetings, their utter failure to respond to FOILs in a timely fashion, and more. Indeed, there can be no accountability without transparency and DOE gets an "F" in both.
If others have testimony to share, you can email it to the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org