By David Solano
Our nations foundation is based on education. It is layered on common knowledge which may not seem all that common as we need to take care of our environment.
We need to be free from bad air, soil, or water. We’ve seen the effects where any of those have gone wrong. Next, we add academics, again starting with basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic. These skills are necessary to function in a society. Our schools support reading with literature (reading the writings of others) and history (the record of what happened. Arithmetic evolved into mathematics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, advanced algebra & the calculus.
Our education transitioned from the home schooling to the schoolhouse, to the elementary, middle, and high schools. Our education system is supported via the taxpayer for school administrators and teachers. With this system, comes expectations that our children will receive a quality education and our teachers and administrators who perform that service with fair compensation.
The smaller school systems are more transparent as the classrooms and staff are more easily managed. Here in NY City, one of the largest school systems in the nation and NY States largest school district, we break down the behemoth system into each borough. Within each borough, individual school districts designate which Community District Education Council (CDEC) you belong to. Here in Queens, is a map of each school. Queens has 7 school districts #24-30.
So how do we get involved in our community’s education system? From both a parent of a child in the school system or a member of the neighborhood, there are many touch points. Parents with a child in a NYC public school, are automatically a member of the PTA (Parent Teacher Association). This is the first point a parent has input into their child’s school. Their voice is led by Parent Leaders composed of PTA Executive Boards and committees. The PTA executive board has a seat in the School Leadership Team (SLT) comprised of half parents/half administrators and teachers. Here the SLT works with the school administration on matters such as curriculum, safety, budget, programming to name a few. This function is mandated within the NYS school governance laws and is a very powerful voice for parents. PTA presidents compose the borough president’s council and work together to collaborate and build capacity within the parent leaders. NYC school districts have a DLT (District Leadership Team) that is run by the District Superintendents Office and brings in the Administrators, PTA Presidents for both K-8 & High Schools, elected officials/representatives, Community Based Organizations such as the Community Board Education Committee, and Teacher Union Representatives to name a few. The CDEC is an elected and appointed organization of community members consisting of parents with children in the school system and community people.
For example, here in N.E. Queens, school district #26 takes pride in being the #1 school district in NYC. Why? I say because of parent/community engagement. Our DLT’s and PTAs provide the fabric for operations of a well-tuned system. How so? Look at the outcomes. When our students are well educated, their performance reflects that. They are measured by test results (English Language Arts (ELA)/Math, for middle schools, and NYS Regents for high schools, and graduation rates.
When there is an engaged community, the system has checks and balances that reflect in higher performing students via higher test scores and graduation rates. As our communities have; families with students in the school system, some previously attended, and others without students in the system, both groups benefit from community engagement. One important organization that functions within the NYC DOE, is the actual school board for the city is the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP). The PEP consists of 15 appointed members and the Chancellor. Each borough president appoints one member, CEC Presidents elect one member, and the mayor appoints the remaining nine members. The Chancellor serves as an ex-officio non-voting member. The PEP is responsible for electing a chairperson from among the voting members. https://www.schools.nyc.gov/about-us/leadership/panel-for-education-policy. If you were to look at the agenda, you’ll have an idea of what all is going on. Go to: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/aboutus/leadership/panel-for-education-policy
How do we patriots engage in our education system? We learn about the system and how it functions. We then hold the leaders accountable. When we hear of issues regarding our student’s education, we join together to make things right! Right now, in the NYC DOE, the Budget Office is not engaging with the community about the incomplete budget proposal submitted to the PEP on 4/27/22. They resubmitted the exact same thing for the 5/18/22 meeting. This total disregard & disrespect of community input does not help the case for extending Mayoral control of schools. Please tell the DOE to engage and resubmit a more complete & transparent proposal while there is still time.
DAVID L. SOLANO,
CB 11 Education Committee Member