2009-02-06 / School News

Teacher's Union Urges Parental, Teacher Input In Schools

Randi Weingarten, the UFT President, speaks at a recent rally of teachers and parents demanding fair fiscal treatment for the New York City public school system. Randi Weingarten, the UFT President, speaks at a recent rally of teachers and parents demanding fair fiscal treatment for the New York City public school system. The Delegate Assembly of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) recently voted overwhelmingly to approve a report by the union's School Governance Task Force that recommends reauthorizing the current school governance law with a series of modifications. In its report, the task force proposes measures that would establish institutional checks and balances, and more voice for the people closest to the kids - their parents and their educators.

"The debate tonight was vigorous, as it should be when you are wrestling with important issues," said UFT President Randi Weingarten. "Discussion and debate are healthy and democratic, but unfortunately they are a large part what has been missing from the current governance model."

"Despite a sense of feeling disrespected for the work they do by the chancellor, the delegates put that aside and really tried to figure out what governance system would help kids, give parents, teachers and the greater community a voice - not a veto - and maintain mayoral responsibility."

The law that gives New York's mayor control over the city's public schools is set to expire on June 30, and its future will be decided by the state legislature. The UFT's multi-partisan task force report outlines a series of modifications to the law at the school level, the district level and the citywide level, as well as new legal accountability measures and another sunset of the law.

Report Highlights

The UFT's multi-partisan task force report calls for:

Maintaining mayoral authority to appoint the chancellor and control the school system's budget.

A reconfigured Panel for Education Policy with a more inclusive structure and fixed terms for members so that it can operate independently and exercise objective judgment on behalf of all students.

A renewed commitment to and the strengthening of School Leadership Teams.

A recasting of the Community Education Councils in each district, with a broader selection process for panel members and additional powers and duties to ensure community access and voice. That includes the authority to hold public hearings and submit recommendations on proposed school openings and closings.

Enabling community superintendents to perform the significant powers and duties given them under existing state law and who can help bridge the gap for parents and schools who need more information and assistance.

Called the Citywide Education Policy Council in our plan, if a mayor's A legal accountability measure that would allow for complaints to be filed with the state education commissioner and subsequent court proceedings if the DoE does not comply with the law.

Another six-year sunset of the law.

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