Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Illustrating Why One Man Rule Has Got to Go

The following interchange between parents Steve Koss and Lisa Donlon on the mostly parent-based NYC Education News listserve is just a sample of the daily fare. I know for a fact that much of the NY Ed press monitor the list. Yet you do not see this parent anti-BloomKlein much reflected. Mostly you hear about UFT opposition, which is basically untrue as all they do is make it look like they are against certain policies so the members think they are really a union. This strong parent point of view along with the many anti- BloomKlein classroom teacher blogs is what is driving some of the opposition. (Leonie Haimson for UFT President, as she often does more to defend teachers than the union leadership.) But the chorus is growing. Probably not in time to stop a renewal of mayoral control. But if the legislature is smart, it would sunset the law again in 4 years. That threat might serve to hold the line on some things.

Here Steve and Lisa talk about the paltry numbers in the recent CEC election, or meaningless straw poll, at the district level where despite an expensive lobbying campaign the Tweedies and their flunkies couldn't come close to matching the old Community School Board 5% turnout. This gang can't shoot straight even with a bazooka.


The DOE's straw web site (www.powertotheparents.org) for promoting straw input from
parents for straw polling as input to straw elections in which to select members
to the straw parent organization Community Education Councils, has posted those
straw polling results in what can only be described as the most laughable and
ludicrous form I have ever seen.

Apparently, in an attempt to make the poll results as useless, vague, and
uninformative as possible, the website lists results in three categories: CEC's,
the Citywide Council on Special Education, and the Citywide Council on High
Schools. In each case, the candidates votes are listed not in total, not even
with numeric counts, but simply by the presumably originating schools of those
who voted, and given only in percents!!

That's right - no vote tallies, just percents. To choose just the very
first example listed for the CEC's, we're apparently being allowed to know that
in District 1, an unknown number of parents from School M015 (no name given,
although it happens to be P.S. 015, Roberto Clemente on East 4th Street in
Manhattan) ostensibly voted for their six (yeah, SIX!!) candidates (for nine
positions) in the following way: 26.09% for Monse Santana, 17.39% for Andrew
Reicher, 17.39% for Edward Primus, 13.04% for Corinna Lindenberg, 13.04% for
David Gerstl, and 13.04% fo! r Waldestrudis Acevedo.

A little very simple, trial-and-error math work yields the probable real
counts that produce these percentages: 23 total votes apportioned to the above
candidates as 6, 4, 4, 3, 3, and 3 votes, respectively. So all you PA and PTA
electors from District 1, don't you feel truly empowered and informed to know
that your #1 vote-getter from the full parental voice across your entire
district may well have garnered a grand total of six votes? Of course, it's
always possible that the votes came in as a multiple of this, such as 46 votes
instead of 23, apportioned instead as 12, 8, 8, 6, 6, and 6.

Who knows? Given the lack of parent interest as shown even in the number of
candidates, however, I'd always opt for the lowest possible set of numbers as
the most likely. It's as if we had a Presidential election and we were only
allowed to know the percent of votes coming from each precinct for each
candidate. No numerical counts, no totals by county or state or anything else.

It's a perfect way to provide utterly useless and meaningless data that
also hides the doubtless abysmal parent response to what was likely a
multi-million-dollar effort staged by Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein to
engage (or should I say, co-opt?) public school parents. Just one more example
of how mayoral control has become mayoral autocracy, with meaningless little
crumbs of "democratic participation" tossed out periodically as "sops for the
saps."

If there had been a genuine response with active parent involvement, the
DOE PR machine would have been in full gear, blasting out press releases and
data and pie charts and heaven knows what else. Instead, it's an abysmal
failure, a deservedly total rejection from parents who are smart enough to know
a naked emperor when they see one, and that emperor doesn't even have the nerve
to release the results in an honest fashion. Albany, please take note once again
of the reality of what you've created, and what you so desperately need to
fix.

Steve Koss

Thanks, Steve, for the lucid and spot-on analysis of the ludicrous
straw poll. Just for the record, there is a 7th candidate for CEC One but
the DoE/their vendor managed to accidently leave her off of the straw poll.


It took numerous calls to both DoE ( OFEA) and vendor
(PTTP) to get them to even admit there was a problem ( someone at Power to
the Parents actually assured me that Anilsa Sanchez was on the website
listing candidates for the straw poll, when in fact, she was not).

The left-off candidate is actually a sitting CEC member, whose candidacy
not only slightly "brings the numbers up," but she also brings the additional
representation of the parents of the district as the law requires of the CEC
membership by virtue of her race, ethnicity, home language status and
type of school she represents.

Autocracy combined with ineptitude- the worst of all possible
worlds? or a necessary correlate?

Bring on the wider lens of multiple view points, the checks and balances of
democratic participation and oversight; save us from the paralysis, chaos and
corruption of mayoral control.

Parents must call their representatives in Albany to let them
know they want the madness to stop, and are depending on their state
electeds to reform this broken system in the next few weeks.

One man rule has got to go!

Lisa DonlanCEC One

1 comment:

  1. I agree with that statement that the rule of one man must end. I am a very involved parent, PA, Title One rep..etc. It is a very sad but true fact that parents are not welcomed in the schools. Why? Once a savvy parent sees what's really going on and then they say something about it, this parent is now targeted as a "problem" parent. I have seen some parents banned from their own children's schools. I have received an email from my son's high school principal that was very unprofessional, all because I want the PA elections to be done correctly.

    Some parent want to rise in action but they are afraid, especially those that don't speak English or that are undocumented. It is hard to get parents to participate even when their children desperately need them to advocate for them.

    Mr. Mike has abused his authority long enough. His attention and persistence is securing a third term, his vocal support on gay marriage, trumps the 1 million plus children in NYC schools and their constitution right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    ReplyDelete

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