Hundreds of New York City parents are writing directly to President-elect Obama with their opposition to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein as a Secretary of Education pick. Organized by the Public School Parent Advocacy Committee, the parents are hoping to balance out the spate of positive media attention the chancellor has enjoyed in recent days. Today, for example, the New York Times noted as the only downside of Klein's prospective participation on Obama's "new team" his bitter relationship with Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers. PSPAC, a consortium of PTA political advocacy committees, plans to deliver a letter to the Obama's transition team that calls on the president-elect to choose an education secretary who has "deep practical experience in teaching and learning." As a businessman, Klein has "disastrously neglected the fundamental needs of children," the letter says. Ann Kjellberg, a leading PSPAC member, told me she's gotten about 100 signatures since Friday, when she first released the letter. Other parents are now circulating the letter by e-mail as well, she said. "I do seem to be getting some people new to this," Kjellberg said. "A few have told me their stories of frustrations with the DOE that drive them to question a Klein nomination." PSPAC's entire letter is after the jump.
Special ed advocates objected to the limited choices in this drop-down menu on the proposed IEP form. A new push by the state to standardize the way school districts plan which services special needs students should receive is rattling parents across New York. At the heart of the process is a document called the Individualized Education Plan, which a team of experts crafts to describe the student's educational needs and how the school should address them. For years, every school district has used its own IEP form. Now, state officials have created standardized forms to be used by all districts. The officials say this is an important move because it will create consistency across the state, but special education advocates are worried that the new form could put children's needs in jeopardy. Everyone agrees that IEP forms are crucial documents because they are the strongest form of insurance a parent can have that his child will get specific services. Advocates worry that the forms the state is pushing would weaken that insurance.
A New York City teacher is using Barack Obama's campaign web site to add her two-cents to the whirling Education Secretary speculation. The site was set up so that any person could create his or her own blog, and the Obama campaign encouraged people to do that and "share your story." "Please don't choose Joel Klein for Sec'y of Education," is the headline of the latest post on this teacher's blog. An art teacher who uses the alias "Woodlass," she has no fondness for the changes that have happened in the city schools under Mayor Bloomberg. Her post, after the jump, refers to Bloomberg and Klein's work as a "malicious agenda":
CIF's 2003 report about segregation in District 3 Rather than tinkering with zone lines, District 3 should do away with school zones altogether and instead institute a near-random lottery for school placement, advocates for the district's immigrant families say. The Center for Immigrant Families says students should be assigned to schools not because of where they live but by a lottery that takes into socioeconomic status into account. This type of admissions system, called a "controlled choice" program, would be radical for New York City. Cambridge, Mass., has had a controlled choice policy in place for more than two decades. Some parents in Cambridge say the policy is too formulaic and are advocating for a return to neighborhood schools, the Harvard Crimson recently reported. In a letter sent yesterday to the Community Education Council for District 3, CIF argues that the district's residential segregation requires attention: "The catchment seats increasingly reflect the gentrifying reality of our neighborhoods and further cement segregation."