Monday, February 2, 2009

ICE Minority Report on School Governance Rejected at UFT Exec. Bd.

The UFT task force report is floating around and the members of ICE who served on the comittee attempted to get the UFT Exec Bd to support their minority report. Why a minority report? Because it supports the continuance of mayoral control. albeit with some tweaks. Below is the ICE minority report.

Independent Community of Educators

Minority Report: School Governance

The imminent deadline of June 2009 does not permit time to deliberate and articulate the details of a comprehensive governance structure. A Transition Team, appointed by the NYS Ed. Department for a period of no longer that one year should be established to maintain the system on an interim basis and plan for the structure. Public hearings should be held. They should be well-publicized and held at times and places that insure maximum turnout.

We suggest the following guidelines:

1. The system must be based on democratic participation of the community with decision making flowing from the school level to a central body.

• The creation of true school leadership committees with shared decision making, as defined by NYS Law, will create a Comprehensive Education Plan which will set goals and make recommendations about improving the quality of education in each school, with reference to but not dictated by citywide policy. The administration, faculty and parents will have an equal role on the committee. In their augmented role in the school committees will be reconstituted, with special attention to making them more inclusive and accessible to teachers and parents.

• The duly elected and well trained committees appoint their principals who will maintain a collaborative relationship with the committee and the entire staff.

• Management begins at the school level, with a central organization to standardize some components, manage overall system responsibilities (licensing, payroll, contract negotiation, etc.)

• District Superintendents are selected by school leadership committees in the District in which they serve. The major function of the District Superintendents will be to provide friendly criticism and support, monitor the implementation of the Comprehensive Education Plan and to advocate for the needs of their respective schools.

2. The DOE must be politically neutral and not tied to any one political office. A school system cannot change/adjust according to the whim, caprice, political aspirations, career, or ideology of a politician. It must be run as an independent office with responsibilities to the people of the City and operate within the regulations and laws of the NYS Ed. Department.

• A Central Board responsible for general and overall policy and oversight of all services that are centrally located will be made up of five elected members, one from each borough; one appointee from each of the borough presidents and three Mayoral appointees. A teacher representative will be selected by the UFT. All will be elected/appointed for set terms and removed by the Central Board by a 2/3 vote only for cause.

• The Central Board will appoint a Chancellor, who has demonstrated success as an educator.

• The Chancellor’s role will be to advocate for policy, law and funding; develop guidelines, benchmarks and tracking systems for school needs and achievement; report to all elected officials; monitor the District Superintendents; establish a human resource department; negotiate contracts, and insure that they are upheld.

3. Benchmarks are to be established and evaluations conducted by an independent agency.

• Evaluations of schools and students should be based on multiple measures and should be used for gathering information in order to provide support.

• Responsibility for the analysis and evaluation of the Dept. of Education's programs will be given to the Public Advocate. The Advocate's Office will have statutory authority to review all Dept. of Education documents and will receive all resources currently allocated to the Dept. of Education for the review and analysis of their programs.

• The Advocate's Office will be required to produce an annual report evaluating the progress of the Dept. of Education in advancing students' skills, reducing absenteeism, increasing the high school graduation rate and any other measure that would demonstrate success. The Advocate's Office would then produce reports based on an established schedule determined by when data is available.

4. Inherent in the system design must be respect and support for all constituents.

• School leadership committees, representative of their schools’ constituents, (staff, parents, students in the middle and high schools and their community) under the leadership of democratically oriented principals decide the programs and teaching strategies best suited to their students. Teachers are respected for their experience and expertise in teaching and learning.

• All schools provide a comprehensive education program including the core curricula areas, performing and visual arts, health and physical education, career and technical education, and technology.

5. Funding must be fair, equitable, transparent, with budget decisions made at the school level.

• A larger portion of the funding received by the federal, state and city will be managed by the schools. The school leadership committees will determine how funds are spent.

• Equitable funding developed by central staff and approved by the Central Board will determine how much money each school receives. Budgets and expenditures at all levels of the system will be made available for review by the public. The City Council is to be involved in this process.

• Funding and spending will be monitored by the Comptroller.

• All contracts will be put out to open bid and made public via the Internet.

6. School and District lines must be drawn in a way to preserve and strengthen the integrity of neighborhoods and communities.

• In the creation of district lines, consideration can be given to existing community planning boards/combining boards.

• All registered voters and parents are eligible to vote for district councils.

• Non-registered parents can vote on separate voting machines at each poll site dedicated solely for the purpose of electing the councils or with a mail in ballot. While this will necessitate an additional eligible voters list, the input of the public is necessary in a democratic society that must take responsibility for schools.

• District councils will serve as a public forum for parents and community and serve as a liaison between the District and the Central Organization.

7. A system of checks and balances will be put into place to give voice to all constituents.

• Parents and Students will have access to an Education Council within the Office of the Public Advocate to provide assistance and guarantee its rights. School staff will be represented by their unions.

• The City Council will have non-voting representation on the Central Board.

8. Professionals creating and implementing instructional policy should have classroom teaching experience so that they have a clear understanding of the implications of their decisions.

• The Chancellor, principals, assistant principals and other pedagogical supervisors must be experienced educators, with a minimum of five years of classroom experience; no waivers will be granted.

February, 2009

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