30 Issues: Parents and Schools

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's Education Week on the Brian Lehrer Show's election series "30 Issues in 30 Days." See the full 30 Issues schedule and archive here.

During the Bloomberg years, many parents felt cut out of the education system, from decisions around school closings to the rise of testing. Will the next mayor's DOE be different? WNYC associate producer covering education Yasmeen Khan, and Beth Fertig, contributing editor for education at WNYC and, discuss the differences between the mayoral candidates when it comes to parental involvement in public schools in NYC.

Then: Rob ReichStanford political scientist and co-editor of Education, Justice, and Democracy, discusses why he thinks contributions to the PTA shouldn't necessarily be tax deductible.


Beth Fertig, Yasmeen Khan and Rob Reich

Comments [20]

A follow-up to my comment of 11:01 AM yesterday, lamenting the epidemic of the ridiculous and annoying Internet trend of writing exclusively in lower case:

Although seeing the offending post made shortly before mine was what obviously prompted my vent, I nonetheless did not mean to single-out any specific individual for censure. (but rather was making a general point)

Sep. 25 2013 05:25 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"What Is in the Overall Budget?

For the school year 2013–14, the Department of Education’s total budget is $24.8 billion, including $4.9 billion to pay pensions and interest on Capital Plan debt. "

$24.8 BILLION.

The problem isn't not spending enough money.

The problem lies elsewhere.

Sep. 24 2013 11:56 AM

Extra taxes is always the solution! Why don't we take the tax deductions attributed to NPR and move the money to these poor districts.

Instead of identifying the problems in troubled schools and fixing them, let's instead punish the school districts that are working well.

Throwing money at failed districts will not fix the education problem. It only allows ineffectual people to keep turning out high school graduates that can barely read. What nobody will admit is that holding the administrators accountable for their results is the only way to fix the issue.

Sep. 24 2013 11:44 AM
John from Bronx

ugh.. this segment is tedious. Every parent wants to give their kid a leg up. There is no such thing as equal outcomes people! Get out of the tower and into the real world.

Sep. 24 2013 11:27 AM
John from Ditmas Park, Flatbush

This argument seems for the extremes. We're in a title one school with a small contingent of active parents with some resources to provide the school. I think a deduction helps to bring some small funds to the school.

Sep. 24 2013 11:23 AM
Jay from New York

Let's start by making the donations to Stamford non-deductible -- it is unique and privileged institution -- largely for the wealthy elite. Why should private universities be deductible -- if you follow his argument. Why don't we force people to pool donations to all universities then? We need all donations to all schools and should encourage all by making it deductible.

Sep. 24 2013 11:23 AM
Fishmael from NYC

How about nixing the charitable deduction status, and then allow rich parents to contribute to their own kid's schools - but as part of their contribution, they must pay a portion of that amount into a fund that benefits ALL schools in the system?

Sep. 24 2013 11:23 AM
BK from Hoboken

I don't think a contribution needs toe tax deductible, but that is besides the point. I seriously doubt that parents who donate are doing so just for a tax break. Also, Brian's suggestion that the tax break lessens the amount of money going to other school districts is wrong- the vast majority of funds for education comes from property taxes, not income taxes. Lastly, maney parents in wealthier districts are giving money because their property taxes for education are being siphoned to urban districts. If you live in Millburn, much of your property tax dollars go to Newark. If you live in Hoboken, funds stream to JC. Etc etc. add into the equation Abbott schools which get additional funds statewide. Here in Hoboken, we spend more than $24,000 per student with garbage results. For that much we should shut down the system and send every kid to private school elsewhere.

Sep. 24 2013 11:21 AM
KK from Brooklyn

School admins often WANT parents to be vocal and out front on issues because they are fearful of reprisals from the DOE. Many principals, especially untenured ones or those who run schools that haven't fared well on the dubious school report cards, are afraid to be public with their views. I am particularly aware of this as it concerns high-stakes testing; principals who believe this testing is wasteful and unnecessary remain mum.

Sep. 24 2013 11:19 AM
Bob from Pelham, NY

Does this professor apply his analysis to deductible donations to elite colleges like Stanford? Why should taxpayers be subsidizing these wealthy institutions?

Sep. 24 2013 11:19 AM
kim from Brooklyn

I believe that families' PTA contributions should be pooled and equally distributed across all schools in the system.

Sep. 24 2013 11:17 AM
kim from brooklyn

My kids' NYC public elementary school strenuously asks families to donate a minimum of $750/year, and individual class school supply lists run from $120-200 per child, per year.

Sep. 24 2013 11:16 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

In the late 60's and beyond when the city went to these local districts, the school districts became fiefdoms of corruption. And the schools became instruments of politics -- soapboxes and bullhorns for local politicians with axes to grind -- instead of learning for the children.

A complete failure of a policy

Sep. 24 2013 11:12 AM
kim from brooklyn

Speaking as both a public school parent and an educator, I think we need to question this idea that parents should have a say in the curriculum. Parents should have a say in an awful lot in a school, but it is misguided to think that parents are properly equipped to make decisions about HOW children are best educated. Research and experience should dictate that.

Sep. 24 2013 11:10 AM
fuva from harlemworld

(Okay, to characterize the Brownsville episode as a parental "war on schools and teachers" is revisionist...Like calling the fight against opportunity inequality "class warfare", it mistakes defense for offense...)

Sep. 24 2013 11:05 AM

Is it too much to ask that people make some effort to capitalize where required? (Like at the beginning of sentences...)

Sep. 24 2013 11:01 AM
elizabeth from Greenwood Heights

What about the role of the 'parent coordinator', this position was supposed to help parents get info about the school but it doesn't seem to be very successful.

Sep. 24 2013 11:00 AM
Anonymous from queens

don't wish to leave my name as i once worked for bloomberg. but don't really buy the "parental choice" thing anymore. it is great for opening new schools and closing bad onces. that part works fine.

but nobody considered the fact that (a) parents do not have the time to spend a year shopping around for schools for their kids. it is a full time job and doesn't work for families with two jobs -- which is all of new york. and (b) a good principal (who can manage teachers and can manage budgets) isn't necessarily a good "showman" who can market their school around the city. as a result everyone wants to send their kids to nest or millenium high school or whatever is the name brand of the moment. but what about other schools with teachers and principals who are good at teaching but not good at publicity? how do parents find them?

they don't. the school choice system is broken.

Sep. 24 2013 10:57 AM
Brian from Forest Hills

There are two important mechanisms for parents to be invovled: (1) School Leadership Team (SLT); and (2) The PA/PTA. The SLT (which comprises of the school's principal, PA/PTA president, UFT rep and a student and a few other reps of faculty, parents and possibly students) is supposed to put together the school's comprehensive educational plan (CEP). In too many schools this process consists of the principal bringing it in to the SLT at the meeting where it must be approved leaving it impossible to have meaningful discussion and changes. Further, the goals in the CEP are usually minor tweaks that never go to addressing the major issues in that school. IN the school where I served on the SLT all the parents refused to sign the CEP because of the lack of involvement of parents in the formation of the document and the small goals. It did not matter at all--it still went through and despite these issues being raised to the DOE, they were never addressed.

The PA/PTA can either be an incredibly active organization or a small group of parents who are able to go to the meeting. Once again, depending on the principal, they will either be a part of the school or totally ignored.

It all comes down to the principal and accountability with the DOE. Until there are ways to create real accountability, parent's involvement will not be real.

Sep. 24 2013 10:11 AM

All parents would do well to familiarize themselves with their children's curriculum, as much as possible. Especially anything having to do with sexuality, "health" and "LGBTQ" issues.

Parents should ask themselves whether they are comfortable with what is being taught to their children. Consistent with my/our values?

Wholesome? Appropriate?

Sep. 24 2013 09:07 AM

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