Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tweed Power to the Parents: Hand out a button

A major part of the Ed Deform neo-liberal program is to totally disenfranchise the major stakeholders - parents and teachers. For teacher readers of this blog, I am posting some parent reactions so you know you are not alone in facing Tweedle takedowns.

In the light of the Tweedie position of "Deputy Chancellor for Community Engagement" the following question was asked on the NYCEd listserve:

What the implications for the currently existing parent involvement/engagements structures and staff?

Some responses:

That they neither engage or involve parents. Have you been made aware of the current elections for the Citywide Council on Special Education or the Citywide Coouncil on English Language Learners? Do you realize that only 4 candidates for the CCSE positon showed up at the Brooklyn hearing and no one for the CCELL? Are you aware of the fact that there were only a few people in the audience and only one person was from a Presidents Council? The cost of this fiasco is 25,000.00 dollars. It may be a pittance in the scheme of things but it would pay for an aide in some school that needs one.
Another use of the position would be to quell any dissent from the community...but that is too Machiavellian. heaven help this poor son of a gun.

Power to the Parents my eye!

Another parent says:
The reason for this fiasco is that “Power to the Parents” is a contractor. They’re a bunch of recent Ivy-league grads who know nothing about the communities they’re supposed to recruit from and even less about how to find and engage public school parents as they’re recently out of diapers themselves. Their only virtue is that—when they were initially hired at least—they cost less than KPMG.

A few of us from the Manhattan High Schools Presidents’ Council dealt with them extensively when they were first hired (for the 2008 CEC elections); they came in totally clueless and, even with lots of hand-holding, were almost comically ineffective. Suffice it to say that a big part of their communication plan was the distribution of “Power to the Parents” buttons.

I have a file on all this, which I intended to dig up anyway in advance of Thursday’s WNYC forum on education coverage, which I will attend. I first got ticked off at WNYC—and specifically Beth Fertig—for her fawning, uncritical coverage of “the first online election” even in the face of emails from actual parents detailing how DOE perpetrated a fraud on the system.

Paola de Kock

MORE COMMENTS:

The NY Times, parroting DOE spin, says: “[t]he moves are intended to give principals more power to determine what kind of instruction they use at individual schools, rather than using only suggestions developed in central offices.”

Without a trace of irony, the article goes on: “The changes underscore a substantial shift that the department has made under Mr. Klein, who early in his tenure focused on centralizing control of the system and developing a uniform citywide curriculum.”—or, more succinctly, much to-ing and fro-ing at DOE.

DOE is also doubling the number of Deputy Chancellors (from four to eight), and “spending nearly $500,000 more, although it is possible other positions will be eliminated.“ Not exactly chump change in a system where PAs must chip in to buy paper and lab supplies. And, in the world of education, the number of administrative positions does not get reduced—ever. That’s the lesson of every RIF that’s ever taken place in higher education and it won’t work any differently here because the people who do the actual teaching—be they professors or teachers—are at the bottom of the educational industrial complex food chain. Back to DOE. The most interesting question to me is what exactly will Santi Taveras be doing as Deputy Chancellor for Community Engagement beside providing some color to DOE’s top echelons? (where, the Times notes, there are no African-Americans and only one other Hispanic). I was hoping—partly because Mr. Taveras is a genuinely nice guy—that he’ll be supervising OFEA, but it looks like Martine will continue as mistress of her domain. Instead, we learn from Klein’s “Dear Colleague” letter that Santi will work closely with the Panel for Educational Policy and other external-facing offices to engage and work with stakeholders.” It sounds like he’ll be trying to convince parents DOE really cares—a job at which the current “engagement” officer evidently failed.

Paola

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