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The issue here isn't micromanagement of individual schools, which has never been available to or seriously sought by parents, but democracy in the governance of an enormous city agency.
One rarely hears these days that when parents gained local control of NYC public schools in the 60s it was hailed as a landmark of civil rights. Now we have two rich white guys exercising virtually unchecked power over our schools. City Council has little practical control over the mayor, and the state legislature, which has nominal control over the DOE, is not going to attend to specific educational policies of the city. An example: the DOE uses a legal loophole to award contracts without competitive bidding or public review, and there is no one to challenge this policy. Hence fiascos like last winter's school bus route changes, the product of a no-bid $16 million contract with the consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal. Similar contracts are now providing our schools with standardized testing and important support services.
It's painful that Chancellor Klein uses the rhetoric of civil rights to burnish his program, when it has resulted in the complete disenfranchisement of the citizenry. One usually understands civil rights to be about empowering people and treating them with equal respect.
Most of the listeners' comments missed the point. Bloomberg and Klein are not concerned with parents objecting to a particular curriculum or an individual teacher. They object to parents' critiques of their policies. You'll notice that everyone is accountable in this system EXCEPT the mayor and chancellor. They answer to no one. And, if Bloomberg (suddenly) believes that teachers are professionals who are the education experts--unlike parents, who should butt out, since they don't know anything about how their children should be educated--how come Bloomberg and Klein spent the first three years of their tenure telling teachers exactly how to script their lessons and how to arrange their classrooms? And how come they don't listen to these same professionals when they tell them that there is TOO MUCH TESTING going on?? Or that they are disrupting the structure of the system one to many times?
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