[ProgressiveEd] Text of APRPE letter to State and City Legislators

[email protected] [email protected]
Thu, 20 Mar 2003 15:36:18 +0000

Dear Education Advocates:
Below is a copy of the letter that Advocates for Public Representation in 
Public Education sent recently to all State and City Legislators.  The text of 
the letter did not come through in yesterday's posting to the PENNY list serv.  
Carolyn Prager
A P R P E 	211 West 92nd StreetNew York, New York 10025(212) 865-1780
Advocates for Public Representation in Public Education 	www.aprpe.org
March 14, 2003
The Honorable Joseph Bruno                                              
Honorable Sheldon Silver
Senate Majority Leader                                                        
Assembly Speaker
New York State Senate                                                        
New York State Assembly
Legislative Office Building, Room 909                              
 Legislative Office Building, Room 932
Albany, NY 12247                                                               
Albany, NY 122248
Dear Senator Bruno and Assemblyman Silver:
Advocates for Public Representation in Public Education endorse the principle 
of checks and balances in public school governance.  The State Task Force on 
Community School District Governance Reform's recommendations do not provide 
for an adequate system of checks and balances.  
The Task Force is to be commended for recognizing the importance of school 
districts and district governance boards.  However, their recommendations do 
not require a meaningful process of consultation that flows to and from the 
Chancellor's office to school districts and back.  If this flaw is not 
corrected, New York City schools will stumble along according to the dictates 
of one or two individuals within an increasingly centralized system.  
We ask that the Legislature go beyond the Task Force's recommendations to 
assure a system of checks and balances in New York City public school 
governance in the following ways:  
1.	Retain school district offices and school district superintendents to 
carry through the recommendations of the new district school boards and to 
provide greater access to parents.
2.	Allow any eligible district resident, parent or non-parent, to stand 
for election to the new district school boards.  
3.	Provide for election of board members by mail-in ballot in ways that 
meet the requirements of the Federal Voter Registration Act protecting the 
rights of parents and registered voters to participate in school board 
4.	Require the Chancellor to consult with each district school board 
before changing educational policy and require school boards to hold public 
hearings about these matters.
Without checks and balances, the Mayor and Chancellor can do what they want to 
local schools.  Look what they have done so far:
�	Imposed a one-size-fits all reading and math curriculum on most schools.
�	Used unqualified people on secret committees to develop this curriculum.
�	Forced a Freedom of Information Act action to release the names of 
these secret working committees to the public.
�	Provided no opportunity for teachers, for parents, or for the public to 
review this curriculum.  
�	Ignored respected educators' subject area specialist criticism of a new 
and unproven curriculum. 
�	Endangered No Child Left Behind funding to NYC through their imposition 
of a reading curriculum that does not meet federal standards.  
�	Threatened the existence of alternative schools, of Middle School 
Choice, of Gifted and Talented, of Dual Language, and of other successful 
programs at the local level.
�	Removed district superintendents and district offices from school 
�	Reduced 32 school districts de facto to ten regions in blatant 
disregard for existing State law.
�	Reduced access to higher level decision makers at the local level 
�	Provided the public no administrative flow chart or job descriptions of 
new Regional offices and officials.  
�	Returned us to a "separate but equal" standard for public education 
by "exempting" 208 schools from the "universal" curriculum while using lower 
achievement exemption criteria for schools with larger "minority" populations 
than those with middle-class students.  
It takes a village to raise a child.  We are all part of that village.  Please 
help keep the school district "village" intact by retaining school districts 
with district offices, with district personnel, and with district public 
governance boards that are more than advisory bodies.  
Thank you for your consideration.
Carolyn Prager
Cc:  Members, New York State Legislature
     Members, New York City Council