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New York City


(The 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.)

Today, 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.

September 11th!

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.

September 11th!

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. #

Jill 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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