Streams

Note to New Mayor: Show Some Love to Parent Coordinators in the Schools

Friday, October 18, 2013 - 12:49 PM

(Yasmeen Khan)

In 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-Chancellor Joel Klein created the position of parent coordinator to ensure there was someone in each school directly responsible for supporting families. It was a noble vision: give parents a local contact for questions or concerns about their children's schools.

I started as a parent coordinator at my old middle school in District 7 in the South Bronx. It was so gratifying to be able to work there as an adult and help a still under-served community; it was coming full circle and fulfilled my need to give back. I wanted to be an example to students and parents that there is life beyond the “’hood.”

A major part of my job is to keep parents engaged in their child’s education whether it’s through a workshop, meeting with a teacher or a quick email. Whatever the method, my job is to make sure parents are aware. This can be quite a challenge when you are dealing with so many families facing serious needs and struggles. How can one person possibly address all of them?

The answer is simple: we can’t but I, and all the parent coordinators I know, try our hardest.

With all the talk of the new mayor and a new schools chancellor coming in January, parent coordinators are afraid. There is no guarantee that the next mayor will keep the position. And all indications are that parent coordinators are a low priority. I feel that now, and it makes me unsure about my own next steps.

My frustration comes from not being paid more, and not being valued as an integral part of the school system. Parent coordinators are not entitled to the same benefits as other employees of the Department of Education.  I recently asked for a raise after five years of making the same salary, about $37,000 a year, and was told I would get a 2 percent increase. This works out to $0.27 more an hour. I brought my frustration and concern to the attention of my union rep and was told there was nothing he could do

So my question to the next mayor is a simple one: what about us? What happens to the parent coordinators and to the families we serve and the schools we support? What happens to our own families when we realize, as I have, that while leaders say our position is so important we really are taken for granted, underpaid and not protected. 

The next mayor should create a network for parent coordinators so we have support available on a regular basis. I would love to see realistic forms of measurement for parental involvement, and a pay increase.

I am trying my best to hope for a better outcome but I think, if it ever happens, I will be long gone.

Contributors:

Taneesha Crawford

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Comments [1]

Barbara Yarshevitz PC HSTAT from HSTAT

Hello
Thank you for your sincerity and clarity. In order to alleviate the concerns of all Parent Coordinators citywide, it might prove efficacious to have a survey of responsibilities that PCs are in fact currently assuming and to then align these with a newly created profile of responsibility of Parent Coordinators citywide. I believe this would not only clarify the responsibilities of PCs but would also clarify it for parents, teachers, school staff and union representatives as well as for all administrators.
The position has become to a great extent considered citywide as a 'Girl Friday' fill in position, from my conversations with other PCs , and as a - "whatever is needed and wanted position". Parent Coordinators as members of a wonderful and powerful union DC - 37 find to a great measure themselves to be inappropriately placed, Parent Coordinators being in fact Administrative Assistants. The job is also often erroneously referred to by other staff members in school as the "The PTA person. " Newly created and unchallenged citywide goals and clarification of job description and responsibilities would eliminate much of this confusion. Since all other school employees do have specific job responsibilities from teachers to security etc. which are indisputeable.
Obviously we as Parent Coordinators always do, and will continue to have the best interest of our families to heart and will continue to assist our NYC families and extend ourselves on their behalf.
Thank you,
All the Best
B Yatshevitz

Feb. 01 2014 01:03 PM

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