following is extrapolated from the speech CSA President Jill Levy
delivered at CSA’s 37th Annual Educational Leadership Conference
last month at the New York Hilton Hotel and Towers.)
I am proud to report to you on the state of our professional union.
Our New Leadership Team, including my exceptional partners, Ernest
Logan and Peter McNally, has forged an organization of the highest
quality. Our Directors and Assistant Directors are hard working
and dedicated to serving every one of you and every child in our
public schools and day care centers in the City of New York.
Our relationships with individuals and organizations that impact
public education have already been fruitful. We are developing
cutting edge technology for executive leadership skill development
to be housed in our first Executive Leadership Center, which is
under construction right now at 16 Court Street.
With the support of President Ninfa Segarra and Chancellor Levy,
we finally achieved a well-deserved retroactive equity increase
for our Committee on Special Education Chairpersons.
We promised you greater media visibility. During this week alone
we taped sessions with New York 1, Channel 7, CNN News, and met
with Joe Berger, Education Editor of The New York Times,
to talk about our members – leaders in public education.
At last year’s conference we spoke about the need for an Assistant
Principal (Administration) in every school. I am encouraged to
report to you that preliminary discussions have begun to define
the role, responsibilities and requirements of such a position.
We anticipated a renewed and vigorous focus on public education
with a promise of budget surpluses. We were encouraged to believe
that we could meet and even exceed the challenges put before us.
We ignored the budget wrangling in Albany, believing it would
ultimately end like it always does – with a compromise acceptable
to everyone. And didn’t the City Council negotiate to return millions
of dollars to education? We knew we could count on that. Also,
the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit would provide additional
funding. We were on a roll last year and it felt good.
Who would have imagined that twist of fate and its incredible
impact. The public education landscape–like downtown Manhattan–has
been conspicuously and forever altered. Budget surpluses melted
with the steel and concrete. The Governor appealed the CFE decision.
No additional fiscal support to education is on the horizon. The
optimism that buoyed our spirits last year has turned to frustration.
During any fiscal crisis, your CSA colleagues are threatened immediately
with the loss of intermediate supervisors. Working with parents,
legislators, district and central staff, we have just saved the
jobs of 38 Assistant Principals in one district alone.
Unlike others, we believe the answer to educational success is
directly related to the skills and leadership of you, our members.
Therefore, we propose that the school system hire more supervisors
and administrators – particularly now – when other resources are
scarce. Strange proposal, isn’t it? Well, it is based upon data
that comes out of 1,000 California school districts where they
looked at SAT scores and dropout rates. What did they find? As
the number of administrators per student increased, the dropout
rate declined and both the verbal and math scores on the SATs
rose. The findings remain significant even after they controlled
for other factors. Conclusion – numbers of administrators are
shown to positively affect performance results which suggests
that in areas where students are not performing well, too few
supervisors and administrators are employed.
We learned a great deal about courage and leadership from the
tragedy. We learned about who we are and what people expect from
us. After lunch, you will see a compelling video of your colleagues
– the supervisors and administrators who safely evacuated 8,000
children from Ground Zero, and those who gave them support and
refuge. Their stories are riveting. Yet, not one of them sees
himself or herself as a hero or heroine. They did, they said,
what they needed to do.
The other day I visited I.S. 164 in District 6 and the supervisors
there asked me how to prepare for such a crisis. You cannot prepare
for anything like September 11th and, hopefully, should never
have to see something like that again. But you must believe that,
if the time should ever come when you are called upon to act in
a crisis, you will know exactly what to do. When the fate of children,
staff and parents compels them to look directly to you for guidance
and support, you will be ready.
You may remember that at last year’s conference I compared you
to symphonic maestros – responsible for bringing forth a perfect
symphony under imperfect conditions. Each day, you conduct the
orchestra and inspire beautiful music, enthusiasm for learning,
intellectual growth and social harmony.
In closing, I am so very proud to be here today to pay tribute
to you, your leadership and the perfect symphony you continue
to play. #
Levy is the President of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators
which represents the principals, assistant principals, supervisors,
and administrators in NYC public schools and day care directors.
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