Wednesday, June 3, 2009

NYC School Governance- by Jacob Morris

School Governance in New York City
The Four Options

The Essence of the Problem
1).Is that they Control the Agenda -
Which means they don’t have to Listen to things they don’t want to Hear,
Even when they have an overwhelming Majority of the Panel Votes
2). The Disabling of the Grassroots Participatory Structure
(SLT’s, CEC’s, PTA’s, & CPAC)
(Substandard & Boring Professional Development Disempowers & Disrespects)
3). As well as the Bypassing of the Panel (PEP) designated under
State Law to advise on Policy – leading to bad Decisions,
And problems with the Credibility of their Data Reporting -
Such as the “Push Out” Problem and H.S. Graduation Rates
Or the number of children who have Asthma who are retained in Grade

1). The rerouting and elimination of School Bus Routes
in the Middle of Winter!!!
2). The School Leadership Team Regulation Change
Which was found to be in Violation of State Law

The Key Top Down Option Questions
Mayoral Majority or Minority?
Advisory or Policy Making?
**Who is the Chair and who sets the Agenda?**

A Healthy & Functioning Structure
Must have Structural Linkage from the Grassroots levels
To the Citywide Policy Making Panel

Outline of a Systemic Structure that is Naturally Aligned & Facilitates Greater Responsiveness Along with the Flow of Information from the Bottom Up as well as the Top Down
(by Jacob Morris – on behalf of The School Leadership Team Empowerment Alliance)
1) That the UFT School Governance Proposal is an excellent foundation to build upon.
2) Given that the prior structure of Community School Districts has been in effect destroyed by the Bloomberg/Klein Administration; we have an opportunity to establish a new structure of Community School Districts that is naturally aligned with an existing, healthy, respected, and functioning Community Board District Structure:
a) We therefore recommend that a new Community School District structure in New York City be established that aligns exactly with the existing Community Board District Lines.
b) That the current members of the Community Education Councils (CEC’s) be designated and become Community Board members on their Community Boards with the appropriate jurisdictions. Furthermore, that they be specifically designated to serve on the Education Committees of those respective Community Boards.
c) That a Community Board District Superintendent be designated for each Community School District as their primary responsibility, and of course have a Real Office in that district that is accessible to the Community, with a real staff that actually functions. It is expected that the Superintendent would meet monthly with the Education Committee of that Community Board and form a mutually respectful relationship with that Community Board. Of course we also expect that the District Superintendent would also meet with the District Leadership Team on a monthly basis.
3) We call for replacement of the failed “Parent Coordinator” job category. In their place, we would establish a new job category, for which all existing Parent Coordinators would have a preference in applying and qualifying for.
4) The title for this new job category would be that of “Parent Ombudsman.” The functions of these Parent Ombudsmen would be to help solve the problems of parents who would call or come to the School in respond to issues that arise in their Child’s path through the Educational System.
We expect that not only will the Board of Education work to facilitate the competence and credibility of the Parent Ombudsman so that they can do their jobs better on behalf of the parents and their children, but they will also be allowed to choose their Union Representation in a transparent process.
5) In regards to School Leadership Teams (SLTs), we call for:
a) A staggered two year term in the election of team members so as to preserve the continuity of team function and knowledge.
b) The restoration of discretionary professional development training funds to the Teams so that they feel empowered and respected by the Educational System in which they can play such a potentially positive role.
c) Restoration of a competitive professional development Vendor Training Catalog.
d) Giving responsibility to the School Leadership Teams for the maintenance of the content of their respective school web-sites. This would be in harmony with a critical element of their mission under State Law to communicate effectively with their respective constituents.
e) On an annual basis the SLT members will elect a member from their team to represent them on the District Leadership Team. This would promote the flow of information about problems and issues up from the School Based Level.
6) We recommend that the respective five Borough Presidents establish Education Advisory Councils, analogous to the council that has been functioning in Queens under the purview of that esteemed Borough President.
a) Obviously we recommend that the core membership of the Boroughs Advisory Councils have among their members the chairs of the various district leadership teams and community board educational committees within their respective Boroughs.
b) In the event these Education Advisory Councils elect or designate a chairperson, the Borough President could seriously consider designating that person as their representative to the Citywide Education Policy Council.
7) In regards to the newly established “Citywide Educational Policy Council”, we would build on the UFT proposal and add four members; two more appointees for the Mayor and one each to represent the Community Boards and also the District Leadership Teams; they would be respectively elected by a separate Citywide gatherings of the Chairs of the District Leadership Teams, and also the chairs of the Education Committees of every Community Board in NYC. Further, it is critical that any member in good standing of the Citywide Education Policy Council be empowered to make a motion to place items on the Agenda for the following month’s meeting.

Envisioning a Community & Parent Friendly Naturally Aligned Structure for School Governance in NYC
What should be the Purpose of a System of School Governance?
Answer: Better Decisions and Responsiveness on Behalf of the Children
Axiom #1
The School is the Fundamental Unit of a School Governance System
Axiom #2
The Management Structure and the Participatory Structure Must be Aligned
Axiom #3
Continuity has a Value – It Enables us to Build on a Foundation over Time
Axiom #4
A Desire for Consensus Should not be allowed to Degenerate into Paralysis
Axiom #5
Team Participation in Decision Making Promotes Buy-In of Implementation
Axiom #6
The System will never be Perfect – Nonetheless it should Strive to Emulate a Learning Organization so it can Grow from both Acknowledgement of Mistakes and also Anticipation of Possible Problems

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