Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The decimation of parent involvement in District 22

Presidents Councils are the collection of all PTA Presidents or their reps in each school district in the city. A little history: since the beginning of Presidents Councils, back in the 1990's and even before, when districts had PA President councils under various names, District 22 in Brooklyn has had an unbroken series of these councils. For those not aware, D22 was considered a leader in parent involvement, and not only by our own parents, but by parents throughout the city. Wherever we went if we said we were district 22 parents, we represented a high level of parent involvement.

We were one of the pilot districts for School Based Budgeting and for the Special Ed Inclusion program. Our district started School Leadership Teams when they were first rolled out under C100.11 under Chancellor Rudy Crew as School-based management and Shared decision making. The District went so far as to send a team including administrators, teachers and parents to Edmonton, Canada to learn more about it.

We met with our Superintendent on a monthly basis where no question, whether about budgets, curriculum, zoning, etc., ever went unanswered. When budgets had to be revised and/or cut in the middle of the summer, not only Principals but PA Presidents and UFT chapter leaders were called in, to meet with the Superintendent to decide collectively where those cuts would do the least harm to the students.

PA Presidents were included in every memo that went out to principals and UFT. Was it perfect? Not by a long shot, but parents knew they were in a cooperative effort and had a very real voice as well as the opportunity to have an impact.

I was involved from 1986 thru 2004, when my youngest went on to High School, but kept in touch with the parents in the district.

I have now heard that for the first time in all the years of active parent involvement, District 22 is now without a Presidents Council. Parents have been so disenfranchised, ignored, and frustrated in their attempts to have genuine input that they have basically just given up.

Let's hear it for this administration, for being able to decimate a quarter century or more of parent involvement in 7 short years. -- Dorothy Giglio