2004-01-21 / Features

SB 30 Book To Close In June

by richard gentilviso


Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said, “We welcome the opportunity to close the book on community school boards,” in a January 14 announcement.Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said, “We welcome the opportunity to close the book on community school boards,” in a January 14 announcement.

Applications for parent-dominated community education councils will be required by March 16 for a selection process now scheduled to be held on May 11 in the wake of a federal ruling by the Justice Department that will not oppose the Bloomberg mayoral administration’s plan to replace elected community school boards as part of the ongoing makeover of city school administration.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said, "We welcome the opportunity to close the book on community school boards," in a January 14 announcement that community education councils would be in place on July 1.

Community School Board 30 will continue through the end of the current school year. "We will be here until June—that’s what I have heard," said Board 30 President Giovanna D’Elia at the board’s January meeting.

Parent councils were to be up and running by Dec. 1, 2003, after hundreds of parent representatives were to have been chosen by parent teacher association (PTA) officers in every school by October 31.

But objections that the new procedure violated minority voting rights delayed the process. In accordance with the Justice Department ruling, opponents of the plan can still go to court and try to block the process again.

The DOE will conduct a series of six citywide community meetings, beginning January 29, on the new education councils.

Board Member Dorothy Wilner said that while it has been valuable to meet with the district superintendent, Dr. Philip Composto, under the new centralized administration to find out what is going on and to give suggestions—which by law the superintendent doesn’t have to take—the new parent councils will find themselves to be as useless as the current school boards.

"We literally have no power. Nobody has power in this system other than the mayor," Wilner said. Composto replied that parent councils can serve an important role.

Wilner also asked Composto about new curriculum guidelines for teachers. "I have heard that even the most experienced teachers now have to follow certain procedures that they never have done before," she said.

"We do have to follow a workshop model," Composto said, "it’s been mandated for everyone." Composto said studies have shown that if children are actively engaged in learning, they will learn. "I’m a parent with four kids who attend city schools and I think the workshop model is working," he said.

According to a January 7 New York Times report, the balanced literacy reading curriculum installed this year by Diana Lam, deputy chancellor for curriculum, does not qualify the city for $34 million in federal aid from the Reading First program and will be dropped in 49 elementary schools.

State Senator Frank Padavan recently called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Klein to fire Lam, saying "She’s thwarting not only the federal mandate on reading, but flying in the face of what all the experts are telling us is the right thing to do."


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