year marks the anniversary of one of the most tragic events in
NYC, as well as the country. The city experienced its darkest
moments as all energies focused on the common good of a united
nat+ion. As fundamental as education is, it took a back seat to
the securing and rebuilding of lower Manhattan’s community and
NYC’s financial district. Leadership played a key role in the
stabilizing of our city at that heightened time in our history.
Our political leaders and citizens displayed a strength and courage
that gave the city the confidence to move forward as a unified
While the city was trying to recuperate from the deva0station,
the NY Court of Appeals determined [4 to 5] that an 8th grade
education is sufficient for students to become productive
citizens. One year after that horrific ordeal, children are still
suffering from that old, traditional form of post-slavery education.
We must start educating our children for academic achievement
across the board. Steps have been taken during the aftermath of
9/11 that indicate we are moving in a direction that could make
On June 10, 2002 legislation was signed into law giving control
of the New York City public school system to the Mayor. Included
in the law was a “maintenance of effort” clause that should increase,
not decrease, public school funding in our city. Parents feel
that someone has to be held accountable if this criminal assault
against our children is to continue another day. The Mayor selected
his chancellor, Joel Klein, who has already reached out to the
United Parents Associations of NYC (UPA) before taking office.
He has also made a difference after his first week on the job
by reversing, with the stroke of his pen, what ex-chancellor Harold
Levy had agreed upon with
the teacher’s union regarding the 20 minutes per day of additional
classroom instruction time. The chancellor added two full days
of classroom instruction by taking away two professional development
days from teachers. UPA immediately posted a gold star on Chancellor
Klein’s annual report card. That this happened so swiftly shows
the cooperation of the teacher’s union in a light that parents
have been pointing towards for sometime. Now that the smoke has
cleared from 9/11, that light should illuminate brighter than
ever before. UPA applauds the union and the Mayor for allowing
children to come first. Now, we need to be vigilant and attentive
towards the course of action being laid out for our children’s
academic achievement. Parents, our children must succeed–there
is no alternative! Teachers will now earn a fair and competitive
wage. 9/11 has become a symbol of strength to our nation and has
attracted a record number of new teachers this year with certifications
The Federal government has re-authorized Title 1, the “No Child
Left Behind” legislation that will bring resources to parents
who have children attending non-achieving schools throughout our
While serving on State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s Task
Force on School Governance this year, UPA fought hard for parental
representation on any reconstituted board of Education. And, parents
behold; a precedent was set appointing five parents to the New
York City Board on Education Policy.
We have already proven, as a city, that we can accomplish the
rebuilding process–especially when everyone is committed.
Imagine what we could do if we set our sights on educational achievement!
We can no longer wait for another generation of “victims” to arise.
Parents, should we accept a merely “adequate education?” Should
we expect more from the NYC Dept. of Education? I think you know
the answers. It is time to take a stand on our children’s education
and Leave No Parent Behind!#
Clayton is President of the United Parents Associations of New
York City, Inc.
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