Friday, April 18, 2014

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The Call Blog: Principals, Education Councils Call For Changes To Department Of Education

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The Schools Chancellor appointment will get the most New Yorkers talking. Yes, more than Police Commissioner. Teachers and parents are organized. And this "industry" is divided. In fact, this appointment will get educators talking in school districts all over the country. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio may be struggling to find someone to slow the trend of privatization.

Almost 150 public school principals called on Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to make significant changes to the educational policies of the Department of Education today. And in what was billed as an "unprecedented show of unity," parents in Education Councils signed on to the open letter later in the day. The effort came as de Blasio continues the search for a new Schools Chancellor.

The groups called on the next mayor to revamp the teacher and principal evaluation systems, eliminate the school report card, reduce standardized tests to minimum federal requirements, and create better mechanisms for parent/community input. In addition, they want de Blasio to cede majority control of the DOE's Panel for Educational Policy to community members. What do you say?

Do you support the educational agenda outlined by principals and parents today? What changes would you make to the Department of Education? With a little more than two weeks before his inauguration, are you concerned Bill de Blasio hasn't named a Schools Chancellor yet?

Send your thoughts using the link above.


Schools should be freed of government and union rules and regulations. They should be privately operated with parents having control over teacher and principal selection and curriculum contents

Port Richmond, SI.

Yes all atrs should be placed. But Be careful about falling into the trap of repeating what Joel Klein and the press line about how much money ATRs are "wasting". They are not sitting around doing nothing. They are subbing - subtract the cost of a lower salaried sub or actually covering for regular programs of teachers who have left, are sick, on leave etc. So yes there is a cost but not the numbers tossed around to try to make the case they should be fired.

I would bet that if there are no more school closings and budgets hold so there is no excessing we will see the atr issue begin to disappear. That is not to say we shouldn't get rules in place for long term protection.


The new Mayor needs to strengthen School Leadership Teams and put ATRs (excessed teachers) back in the classroom. Principals have taken over the functioning of School Leadership Teams and the DOE wastes over $100 million a year supporting ATRs rather than put them in to vacant positions where they are needed.

James C.
Middle Village

I am happy to see so many CECs crafting a unified message. Their knowledge base and efforts have been terribly under-appreciated for YEARS. I agree with their message of more community input, support of schools and reduced testing stakes. Additionally, I agree that even under mayoral control, there can be NO majority bloc of mayor's appointees on the PEP; otherwise there are no meaningful checks and balances.

Maybe you reduce mayor's PEP appointees by giving slots to the citywide parent councils (CCHS, CCELL, CCSE and CPAC)?


I have no argument with anything they've suggested in the letter -- as the son of a retired school principal, I believe my mother would have signed it, too. What I especially like, however, is the timing, while Michael Bloomberg is still in City Hall -- he'd better get used to uprisings like this against his policies, and I hope it all gnaws away at him for years to come.

Upper West Side

Hi John,

First of all DeBlasio hasn’t done anything pertaining to his job to already have a poll come out in his favor saying that he is doing a great job. Everyone gets carried away without reason. A few people where already approached about the chancellor's job but they have refused for one reason or another. I believe that it is going to take a lot hard work on everyone's part and a lot of luck along with it. Remember one thing that the school term will start at the end of this Bloomberg regime.

Knowing Bloomberg he will not be gracious in the transformation of any new law and or ideas. He mentioned a few months back that he is dead set against any changes and he can sign into law for some of them so that they cannot be changed and they will stay the way he has implemented them. Of course his chancellor is a Bloomberg appointee and quite frankly I can’t imagine that this new mayor will start his new administration with Bloomberg's style and then when he finally takes over will start again with a different set of rules. This Bloomberg is going to leave his mark on everything and it should not be that way and if he is leaving why not give someone else a chance.

As far as the Principals, Teachers and parents going to DeBlasio’s office today is a good sign of unity but then again we still have to have some sort of a guide line as to what educators are really qualified to do their jobs.

Thank You John,

Hi John

First I would like to say awesome look to NY1!! I support the educational agenda outlined by the teachers and parents the teachers cant do it alone the parents have to help their kids study and achieve their goals everyone have to pitch in, the DOE have to be revamped from the top down to get rid of Bloomberg's educational policies.

I hope Diblasio find a new school chancellor before January 1st.

upper west side

There are way more than 150 Principals asking for significant changes. These 150 must be the ones who do not fear reprisals in these last remaining, dwindling hours.


You start by bringing back Phonics workbooks, Math workbooks, English workbooks, Penmanship workbooks. Science Class, Auditorium, and Gym.

East New York

First thing I would do is get rid of the Leadership Academy that "trains non educators" to become Principals. Let us start to bring Principals back from the ranks, first as a teacher, then Assistant Principal, then Principal.

Let us understand that the education of our children should be a partnership between Parents and Teachers.

Principals need to show more respect for teachers also.

Upper West Side

John, the current evaluation system requires that my ap to evaluate each of his 36 teachers 4-6times a year!!! You do the math!!!! What else can he possibly have time to do??????

Teachers have ALWAYS been evaluated. On another note, reinstitute shop and trade programs. And yes, smaller classes.

Shelley in Park Slope

Carmen Farina is a fantastic choice. Wow- we don't need a waiver like we did for all of Bloomberg's chancellors. She will get the doe back to the business of educating our children instead of making Pearson and other companies rich. She was actually deputy chancellor under Bloomberg for two years but when her voice wasn't listened to she left. She will give the doe new life.

Bill from Park Slope

I, as a student leader, would like to see more student voice in the systematic workings of individual schools.

As a substitute For standardized testing, I would like the DOE to adopt a model similar to the one used by the New York Performance Standards Consortium, Performance Based Assessment Task (PBATs). A more college prepatory approach

Luis, New York, NY

I would like to see an end to all of Bloomberg's failed educational policies. A return of respect for the teaching profession. Beginning with a fair contract & a raise of salary for teachers . An end to privatization of public schools. An end to high stakes testing. An end to an unfair teacher evaluation system.

Awilda from Brooklyn

I'm a CEC member in District 6 and our CEC signed onto the letter to Mayor-elect de Blasio. I also support the Principals' letter that calls for a significantly changed DOE structure and function. We elected parent leaders have been on the front lines for the past 12 years, fighting off damaging co-locations, flawed capacity calculations, the onslaught of high stakes standardized testing and other misguided education reform-based policies and practices. We need the Mayor-elect to sit down with us-now-and listen to our detailed proposals and concerns. CECs are elected parent representatives and we are closest to the parent and school communities in our city. I hope that Mayor-elect de Blasio will do what he promised when he was on the campaign trail, and listen to us public school parents.

Tory (Washington Heights public school parent)

Why not think out of the box?

Kathleen Cashin, Carmen Farina and Betty Rosa are all distinguished NYC educators and former district superintendents. Cashin and Rosa are Regents; Farina is a retired deputy chancellor.

Why not have a triumvirate of these three experienced, New York City-savvy, lifelong educators serving jointly as our school leaders? The job of chancellor cannot be handled by one person given the multi-layered complexity of the public schools.

There would be a division of labor and they would run the system wisely and boldly under Mayor de Blasio, who has ultimate control of the school system. No waivers required--only the well-being of 1.1 million students.


The dynamic of teaching requirements, and classroom size, is a huge factor in the development of educational resources. There is a disconnect between what is workable, and what works in the context of a child, getting their educational needs met. A stable home life is extremely important too.


Principal Zuckerman hit it on the head. Bring back the school community boards and school districts to get the communities back involved. Also get rid of the new teacher and principal evaluation systems as was stated in their letter. Concentrate on providing teachers and schools with the proper resources and supports. Do these things and deBlasio might become the "true education mayor"

Chris from Brooklyn

Get rid of the bad principals and aps.

far rockaway.

The hope of most teachers and principals would be a long overdue return to normalcy to education in New York. A new chancellor (and one that actually has relevant experience) would help to rectify the many errors in judgment made over the past twelve years. It is a shame that an entire generation of students dealt with a Bloomberg-designed education system, and as a parent and a teacher, I am excited by the prospect of returning teaching as a craft, rather than portfolio management.

Bloomberg and his hires tried to run the city schools as a business. Well in business, when you have 8 products, and 4 don't sell, you cut those 4. Teachers (and related school staff) can't cut any product, because those products are our students. A simple reason that the DOE can never be run as a business, and yet somehow has been for twelve years.

Jackson Hts NY

As a teacher I deal with hunger, histories of abuse, children born addicted to drugs, parents who choose to buy cigarettes over pencils. Teachers need to help their students feel nurtured, safe, and comfortable in a school setting. Instead we are uploading data, assessing for hours, and attempting to follow horrible curriculum.

Lisa teacher from Brooklyn

I wish they would change the policies of Charter School admissions....Stop the lottery process and introduce Charter School teaching to the public schools, Education is VERY VITAL and ALL children deserves a GOOD EDUCATION


Not Kathy Black -- or some crony appointment! I feel confident that mayor-elect De Blasio will appoint someone with the appropriate credentials, not some schmoozy one-percenter who has no clue about public education.

One thing I'd like to see is to stop school overcrowding and reducing the charter school grab -- the privatization of eduction. We should be studying the Chinese educational system and their methods or other countries that have far surpassed the US in education.



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