Parent engagement

New York

Parent councils sent resolutions on a road to nowhere

Over the course of the last year, an elected parent council passed four resolutions, but the Department of Education never got them. The Community Education Council in District 1 sent each of the resolutions to staff members at the Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy and then waited for a response. For council members, the resolutions, which are non-binding, are their main avenue for talking to the chancellor. Now the Office says that it never received the resolutions because the CEC didn't follow the correct protocol for submitting them. "No resolutions were received from CEC 1 last year," wrote Martine Guerrier, who heads the Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy, in an email to council member Lisa Donlan yesterday. The communication breakdown between the two bodies is not an isolated incident. Several councils said they've never received a single response to the resolutions they've passed, confirming for many members the sense that the city is ignoring them. At the same time, the Office says that parent councils have disregarded the system set up specifically to handle their resolutions. Jim Devor, a member of the CEC in district 15, said he first learned that his council's resolution had been declined when he read it on GothamSchools on July 9. Four days later, the DOE still had not contacted the council with its decision, he said. "Common civility would have dictated a formal reply actually directed to the Council and/or its members," Devor wrote in a strongly worded email to Klein. He added that the lack of response reflected "a thinly veiled contempt" for the council.
New York

A week after criticism, city expands its parents bill of rights

When City Council Member Bill de Blasio criticized the Department of Education's bill of rights for parents as being too limited last week, it was the first many of us had ever heard of such a document. Now, just a week later, the document has expanded, ballooning to an eight-page list of 57 enumerated rights divided into four sections. That's up from five one-sentence rights published on a single Web page. A spokesman for de Blasio said school officials alerted his office to the new bill of rights yesterday, the same day the document appeared on the department's Web site. In a statement, de Blasio said he is encouraged by the expansion, but not satisfied. The new version outlines a litany of specific rights for parents, including the right to receive their children's full instructional schedule, the right to have meetings about their children's educational record, and the right to communicate with teachers. The original bill of rights, which is also still published online, in English and a slate of other languages, was more vague, affording parents the right to things like "a free public school education" for their children and to "be actively involved in the education of their children." The new version does not include one of de Blasio's recommendations, though: the right to attend a zoned school in their neighborhood. De Blasio called that omission "troubling." His full statement is below the jump. UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the department, Nicole Duignan, said school officials have actually been working on the expanded document for two years. She said the family engagement and advocacy office built it "based on input and experience from parents who wish to play an active role in their children's education." "We always welcome ideas and suggestions from elected officials to promote and improve parent involvement in our schools," Duignan said.