The Panel for Education Policy
Limits Military in HS
Recently, the Panel for Education Policy held its first public meeting of the school year. The issues addressed included military recruitment, citywide results of the Learning Environment Survey, and an overview of HR Connect. Members of the Panel include: Hon. Joel I. Klein, Chairman; Hon. Alan Aviles; Hon. Phillip A. Berry; Hon. Dr David C. Chang; Hon. Joan Correale; Hon. Kyisha Davenport, Student Representative; Jonathan Figueroa, Student Representative; Hon. Michael Flowers, Hon. Dr. Edison O. Jackson; Hon. Luis Peguero; Tino Hernandez; Hon. Richard Menschel; Hon. Marita Regan; and Hon. Patrick Sullivan.
In an effort to limit military recruitment activities in public high schools—many of which were reported to be in violation of the Department of Education’s policies—Patrick Sullivan, the Manhattan Representative, presented a resolution from the Manhattan Borough President, Scott M. Stringer, and the New York Civil Liberties Union recommending that the Chancellor adopt a system-wide policy of stricter regulations on recruitment activities. In addition, the resolution recommended that the DOE provide more user-friendly ways for parents and students to access opt-out forms, require schools to maintain records of all recruitment activity, and train staff on the rules and regulations of recruiter presence and how to advise students about the risks and benefits of military service.
Several members of the Panel met the resolution with reservations. “Although many of these points are sound…I’m not sure that the nature of the problem merits this kind of response,” commented Schools Chancellor Klein. Michael Flowers, the Queens Representative, expressed his concerns about enforcing the resolution. “The DOE has a clearly set policy and I don’t believe the Panel should set the tone of how these regulations should be implemented,” stated Mr. Flowers. In voting on the resolution, the Panel voted it down by 6 to 3 with 1 abstention.
In speaking with Education Update on the Panel’s decision not to pass the resolution, Mr. Sullivan commented, “I think the Chancellor was opposed because he simply didn’t want to set a precedent and allow a parent-sponsored initiative to pass. The resolution was not binding -- it only issues recommendations, many of which he admitted were good ideas.”
In the second item on the agenda, Jim Liebman, Chief Accountability Officer of the DOE, presented highlights of the results of the Learning Environment Survey, which asked NYC public school parents, teachers, and 6 -12 graders to rate their school’s academic expectations, communication channels, ability to keep students and educators safe, and its success in providing effective learning environments. Nearly 600,000 New Yorkers responded—making it the largest survey ever administered by an American school system. The survey results are available at http://edwize.org/
learning-environment-survey-released. In discussing the results, Mr. Liebman commented that the survey is useful as a comparison tool for schools. “There is no excuse for not doing as well as other schools similar to yours,” affirmed Mr. Liebman.
The final item on the agenda was an overview of HR Connect, which streamlines human resource services for Department of Education employees in a new $30-million call center. As explained by Christopher Cerf, Deputy Chancellor for Organizational Strategy, Human Capital, and External Affairs and his Chief of Staff, Joel Rose, 40 trained customer service representatives at HR Connect are available to answer DOE employees’ and prospective employees’ questions about payroll, health benefits, certification and other topics from Monday to Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm at 718-935-4000.
During the time allotted for public comments, several members of the Teacher Advocacy Group NYC voiced their concerns about the degradation of academic standards and the treatment of teachers under the current educational system. “Because results are measured in test scores, standards will collapse. Hard markers are penalized and teachers become robots who prepare students not to conceptualize and analyze, but to take the next test,” stated Angela deSouza, a teacher and member of TAGNYC. Henry Funes, a Special Education teacher at Baryard Rustin Education Complex who felt he unjustly received a U-rating from the principal of his school, asked Mr. Klein, “where is the accountability for principals?” Mr. Klein said he was not familiar with Funes’ case and was unable to answer. In response to the question of whether or not he will attend another meeting, Funes answered, “More people need to speak up so I’m going to keep coming back.”#