Parent Complains to the State Education Commissioner
On December 3, 2007, Chancellor Joel Klein released a revised version of Chancellor's Regulation A-655 that effectively ended legally mandated Shared Decision Making at the school level on School Leadership Teams by adding this clause to the regulation: “The Principal makes the final determination on the CEP (Comprehensive Education Plan) and school-based budget.” If the Principal makes the final decision on the School Leadership's Team's work, this renders the SLT powerless and directly contradicts State Education Law and Commissioners’ Regulations that call for “Shared Decision making.” So much for collaboration on School Leadership Teams.
The UFT's reaction to Klein's blatant power grab for principals has been to ask for the DOE to be nice and please collaborate with us. We need to see more done. One parent has taken her case to Commissioner Richard Mills by filing an appeal that the new regulation is illegal. Parent activist Leonie Haimson describes her case below.
We have no idea why the Union is not taking the lead to re-empower our members and our parent friends.
from Leonie Haimson...
On Dec. 31, Marie Pollicino, a parent and Community Education Council member from Queens, filed a class action complaint with the State Education Department on behalf of all NYC public school parents. Her petition says that the new regulations adopted by DOE that strip away the rights and responsibilities of School Leadership Teams to decide on school-based budgets and Comprehensive Education plans are unlawful and unwarranted, and should be reversed.
Her petition also points out that the process of amending these regs was contrary to state law by not involving CECs or any other official parent group, and she asked for a stay, so that the previous regulations that provided real decision-making authority to SLTs should be retained until the Commissioner determines the propriety of the amendments.
Her petition is posted here; it makes a very compelling case. It follows an earlier letter to the Commissioner from the NY State Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan, who made several of the same points.
Please contact the State Commissioner, Richard Mills, with a copy of your email to the Regents, Assembly Member Nolan, City Council Member Robert Jackson, Chancellor Klein and the Mayor, as well as your own elected reps in the Legislature and City Council – whose emails you can easily gather by plugging in your address here.
Why is this important and why is this relevant to class size?
Given more resources and authority delegated to the school level, and the huge pressure put on principals by this administration to raise test scores and spend nearly all their discretionary funds on data analysis and test prep, to the exclusion of nearly everything else, it is more crucial than ever before that parents be able to provide a countervailing force to see that resources are invested properly – on reducing class size and improving learning conditions in our classrooms.
This regulation is yet another insidious way in which the administration is systematically trying to strip any ability for parents to have a voice in the way their children are educated.