Tuesday, February 5, 2019

On NYCDOE Governance - the ICEUFT Plan from the past- Keeping the flame alive

With mayoral control locked in, alternatives are pretty much off the table in the poilitical world. And in the UFT. When mayoral control first came up in 2001-2, the UFT supported it while I as Ed Notes opposed it, one of the lone voices openly standing up. I was in touch with George Schmidt in Chicago, which had had mayoral control since 1994 and knew the consequences. So I tried to be Paul Revere and warn everyone - but to no avail. This was pre-ICE days and none of the other caucuses took up the issue. 


I remember one of the leaders of TJC telling me - it's not our issue -- neither was testing she told me  ---- one of the reasons people who were coalescing around some of the issues Ed Notes took up and decided that TJC nor New Action would be willing to push back on these issues. Thus was born the Independent Community of Educators in Nov. 2003.

Sometimes I forget about some of the wonderful work the people in the ICEUFT Caucus did -- seriously thinking things through and having open debate without pushing a narrow ideological viewpoint down people's throats.

While we are no longer a caucus we still meet regularly to talk stuff over - we are meeting during the midwinter break. Here is the document put together in response to the UFT governance plan and was offered up at a Delegate Assembly - when exactly, I can't say.


ICE[UFT] has spent over 2 years discussing a governance plan that would value the democratic participation of all constituents and restore dignity to students, staff and parents. This is a golden opportunity to right what was wrong with the system prior to 2002 and correct what can only be considered a disaster since then. 


We started with the premise upon which the current governance system  has been built. 

The DOE must be politically neutral and removed from 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.


The school system must be run  democratically.  Therefore, the local and central Boards of Education should be elected by the voters and non-registered parents/guardians, and there should be checks and balances built into the structure.  Furthermore, the actions of theses boards should be transparent.


Underlying our proposal is the recognition that the doors of the schoolhouse be open to all, respect for the concern, experience and expertise of educators and parents. 


We agree with much that is in the report of the UFT Committee on Governance.  We agree completely with the need for Bottom-Up Management and for strengthening the role of the School Leadership Teams (SLTs) as described in New York State Education Law. 

For example, the schools, through the SLTs will have more control of the School Budget.  The C-30 committees will have a real opportunity to select principals. 


The District Leadership Teams (DLTs) will serve a similar role on the District level.  They will serve as the District C30 committee when selecting the District Superintendents.  The District Superintendent (as mandated by current law) and a support staff that serves the function of monitoring as well as supporting every school in the District. 


All schools will be supported by the District Superintendent who will assist in the implementation and modification of the CEPs.  As a result, struggling schools will be identified early and will receive the necessary resources.  This initative should prevent the closing of schools.


We seriously disagree, however, with some of the findings of the UFT Committee on Governance.  We recommend that the Local School Boards and the Central Board of Education be elected by the voters and non-registered parents/guardians.  


These elections will be held on the same day as the general election.  Non-registered Parents and Guardian would vote on separate voting machines at each polling site, dedicated exclusively for the purpose of electing the Councils.  According to an election commissioner, this is possible and would be similar to the way special accomadations are made for disabled voters.


While this will necessitate an additional eligible voters list, the input of the public is essential for a public education system that seeks to be a model for broader democratic participation in our society.

We further propose:  New smaller school districts be established and be co-terminus with the existing 59 Community Planning Boards to bring needed city services to schools and deepen ties between the schools and their communities. 

We propose:  Candidates for Community School Board members are elected for specific categories  of expertise such as: Human Resources, Curriculum, Legislation, Special Education, ELL.  Spots are also reserved for parents.


We propose:  Five Borough Support Organizations (1 for each Borough) which will develop a menu of support services, professional development and training courses (similar to the BOCES system in other areas of NYS).  The schools will requisition needed services. They may also purchase services from outside educational organizations utilizing a bid process.


We propose:  The elected Central Board of Education will consist of 10 elected members (2 each from each of the 5 boroughs) and 3 appointed members (1 by the mayor, 1 by the city council president, and 1 by the city comptroller.) 


If this is ruled unconstitutional because of the One Man, One Vote decision, we alternately propose:  The District Leadership Teams will elect the majority of members to the Central Board of Education and each Borough President will appoint one member.


We propose:  The Chancellor will be selected by the  Central Board of Education.  He MUST have an Education Background (waivers should not be permitted).


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