[ProgressiveEd] Update of NYC HOLD Attempts to Make Children First Curriculum Process Transparent

[email protected] [email protected]
Wed, 26 Mar 2003 18:32:33 +0000

Dear Education Supporter:
As you know, NYC HOLD, has filed Freedom of Information Act actions in an 
attempt to get the Department of Education to release information about the 
membership, charges to, and recommendations of the Chancellor's "working" 
curriculum groups.  The following is the latest non-response received from the 
DOE's legal counsel.  The DOE maintains that the Chancellor does not have to 
disclose this information to the public because it is not final agency policy.  
Carolyn Prager
Advocates for Public Representation in Public Education
-----Original Message-----
From: Bastiaan J. Braams [mailto:[email protected]] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 11:56 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: [nyc-hold] More about our FOIL requests
Recall my FOIL requests as a result of which I claimed that the Children
First working groups operated without formal charge and that at least
the Literacy, Numeracy, and Special Populations working groups produced
no reports.
I just received an email from Ms. Judy Nathan of the DOE that claims to
clarify matters.
The basis for my statement that there was no formal charge and no
reports is the DOE replies to my requests.  In her last letter to me the
responsible DOE person, Ms. Susan Holtzmann wrote: "Please be advised
that after a diligent search, there are no documents responsive to your
request."  That was about the reports; with respect to the Charge she
sent me something that was clearly not a formal charge.  I documented
all this on a Web page.
Here is Ms. Nathan's email of this morning.  She refers to a
"misunderstanding", but I'm not sure what is the misunderstanding.  Of
course I am happy to believe that the CF working groups would have made
a recommendation.  Maybe even a one-page letter, saying that after
careful review of all possibilities, after extensive research, and after
listening to many experts of diverse background, they recommend
such-and-such.  The point of my FOIL request was to obtain the report in
which this would be documented.
I had thought that this issue of process might be picked up by some
people that would not want to argue the merits of Chancellor Klein's
actual curricular choices.  Maybe Ms. Nathan's email is an indication
that this is happening.
  From [email protected] Wed Mar 26 09:21:32 2003
  Subject: Children First process
  Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2003 09:21:25 -0500
  From: "Nathan Judy" <[email protected]>
  To: <[email protected]>
  Cc: "Shorris Anthony" <[email protected]>, "Beller Ron"
   <[email protected]>, "Vignola Chad" <[email protected]>, "Rudall
   Evan" <[email protected]>
Dear Mr. Braams:
Your March 19, 2003 e-mail to Deputy Chancellor Lam has been referred to
the General Counsel's office, which oversees the FOIL process, as it
appears that there has been some confusion caused by the responses you
received to your FOIL requests.  You state in your e-mail that, based on
the FOIL responses, the working groups "operated without formal charge
and did not produce reports."  We want to clarify this misunderstanding.
In response to your FOIL requests, you were provided with copies of the
initial material that was given to the Children First participants.
This explains the approach that was to be taken by the working group
members in order to reach their recommendations for change.  With
respect to your statement that the working groups did not produce
reports, FOIL exempts from disclosure intra-agency materials that are
not final agency policy or determinations and to the extent they do not
contain factual or statistical tabulations or data.  The working groups'
recommendations to the Chancellor were not final agency policy
determinations, and thus, were not subject to disclosure under FOIL.
The fact that there was no final determination by the working group does
not mean that the working groups did not make recommendations.
Moreover, the purpose of the working groups was not to produce reports;
it was to participate in an overall evaluation of the existing structure
and make recommendations to the Chancellor and his staff for systemic
change.  The Chancellor has released information to the public
explaining the reasons for the curriculum selections that have been
made, and the other organization changes. These final agency
determinations have been fully disclosed.
Judy Nathan
First Deputy Counsel
52 Chambers St., Room 308, A8
Carolyn Prager
175 West 93rd Street, #16J
New York, NY 10025