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Not So Evident Truth

July 27, 2010

By Carol Boyd

As school districts across New York State anxiously await the delayed release of this year’s test scores, parents and students across the city are even more concerned about the overall impact these remixed scores will have on their children and their schools. While parents applaud NYSED Commissioner Steiner and Chancellor Tisch for finally seeing something and saying something, this has only served to affirm what parents already knew to be self evident truths: that all scores aren’t created equal and that they are definitely endowed by their creators. As a result, the inalienable rights of parents have been diminished to mere errors of omission.

In the deliberate absence of an authentic parent voice in the education of NYC children, the manipulation of test score data has left families feeling more flimflammed and bamboozled than ever. We fully recognize that by themselves, Deputy Chancellors of Community Engagement, Chief Family Engagement Officers, Parent Coordinators, School Leadership Teams, CECs, and the ARIS Parent Link while beneficial, do not constitute responsible, effective family participation. Many, in fact, view these very mechanisms as barriers that impede the process and fuel the notion that Schools are from Venus and Families are from Mars. Meanwhile, it is our children who end up Lost in Space.

A report issued last week by the NYC Public Advocate Bill deBlasio and the Alliance for Quality Education clearly states that “parents need training to effectively participate in the public engagement process.” It also recommends that there be the opportunity to “provide parents with meaningful feedback about rationale for major school changes.”

When Mayor Bloomberg declared that his legacy would be that of the “Education Mayor” and that his Children First initiative would not only end social promotion but foster key reforms that would benefit all children, what did that really mean? After almost ten years and three terms later are our public schools and children really faring much better?

The time has come for Chancellor Klein and the Department of Education to make a real commitment to parent participation in our children’s education; no more prevarication or obfuscation, we demand verification and clarification.

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