Parents form new coalition challenging mayoral control

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Brooklyn parents are forming a citywide coalition to examine mayoral control.

The parents – members of the New York chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ), an alliance of parent organizations – are working with community groups throughout the city to create the new coalition.

They’re focusing on mayoral control because the law sunsets in 2009 and the state legislature can either renew the law or create a new set of rules. Parents want this new citywide coalition to offer suggestions to state politicians reviewing the law.

“We’re in the process of forming a citywide coalition that’s going to reform school governance,” April Humphrey of ACORN and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) explained at a mayoral control hearing hosted by City Councilmember Bill de Blasio at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

The new coalition would hold meetings with the public and discuss possible changes to mayoral control.

“We’re going to be looking for reforms on transparen­cy,” Humphrey said.

She noted that the city Department of Education (DOE) has publicized standardized test scores but the public should know more about how individual schools spend their budgets.

“We want to know where these finances are being spent in the schools,” she said.

The DOE’s Web site, http://schools.nyc.gov, does provide information about funding for individual schools and how the money is spent.

The coalition would also want to examine the role parents play in the school system and address longstanding complaints that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and DOE officials make decisions without consulting parents.

“Mayoral control – especially in regard to communities and parents – has to look different,” said CEJ member Zakiyah Ansari, whose daughter attends I.S. 78 in Mill Basin.

“These are our children,” Ansari said. “It’s our right to have a say, a real meaningful say, and to sit down at the table.”

To ensure that parents have a voice, the coalition will push for a checks and balances system to be in place so the new mayor doesn’t have omnipotent control over schools. Currently, the City Council has no jurisdiction over public schools.

“It can’t be one person making the decision and one person being held accountable at one time – when he’s up for reelection.” Humphrey said.

Updated 3:43 pm, October 19, 2011
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