Monday, April 30, 2007

More Bloomberg/Klein Distortions

Posted on the NYCEducationNews Listserv, Apr. 30, 2007

Today, the DoE will send home a survey for parents to fill out about their schools. Last week, parents who participated in the focus groups supposed to help design the survey sent a letter of protest to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, pointing out how their concerns were censored from the survey. (see below letter dated April 26..) Now, we call on parents to boycott the survey, cross out the questions listed, and before sending it back., write “We want real parent input – as well as smaller classes, less testing, and new priorities at Tweed to deal with the real problems in our schools.”

Class size, testing and test prep, the principal’s attitude towards parents, and the functioning of school leadership teams were all key issues for our groups and the other focus groups whose results we were shown. Despite this fact, none of these issues will have individual questions dedicated to them in survey.

Rather than admit that these are key concerns of parents, the Chancellor responded that they were merely “one or another of the many hunderds (sic) questions that were proposed.” (see below email from Chancellor Klein, dated April 27)

In any event, since the parent survey will account for at most only 5% of a school’s grade,, the results will continue to deny us the ability “to exercise the kind of voice and influence over our schools that every parent, secondary student, and teacher in the City deserves,” as the Chancellor claims. Instead, this is simply another PR offensive by Tweed, to try to show that they really care about what parents think when the reality is otherwise.

“We deserve far better. Parent voices and views have again been ignored – even when it comes to the parent survey itself. We will instead use our influence to ask parents to send it back corrected – so that Tweed really hears what we think. ” -- Leonie Haimson; Class Size Matters: 212-674-7320; 917-435-9329,

“The survey is a missed opportunity for parents to give meaningful feedback on their children's schools and leadership because it omits major issues of concern to parents citywide, and only adds up to a small percentage of the school report card, which is based mainly on test scores. I urge parents to join together and boycott the survey and demand a more meaningful process for parent input into our schools..” – Lisa Donlan, CEC District 1 (917) 848-5873.

Contact information for other participants in the survey focus groups: Bijou Miller, D2 Presidents Council: (212) 799-2921; Rob Caloras, President, CEC D26: (347) 610-4942; Marvin Shelton; President D10 CEC: 718-741-5836.

From: Leonie Haimson []
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 6:17 PM
To: Klein Joel I.
Cc: Liebman James; Lopatin Adina; Stroud William (30Q580)
Subject: parent survey

April 26, 2007

Dear Chancellor Klein:

We, the undersigned, are parents who volunteered to be part of the focus groups organized by DOE to help develop the parent survey, due to be distributed at the end of the month. We were told that our interests and concerns would help determine which questions would be included. There was remarkable unanimity in our group, and in the other focus groups whose results we were shown. Certain issues repeatedly came to the fore, including class size, which remains a central priority for parents. Other questions that we said should be addressed in the survey include the emphasis on testing and test prep, the relationship of the principal to parents, and whether our School Leadership Teams were functioning well.

Yet at a subsequent meeting, when we went over the written version, not one of these issues was addressed. Neither KPMG nor the DOE officials present could explain why they were excluded, but they did mention that principals had seen an earlier draft and had objected to some of the questions.

During this meeting and in subsequent emails, some of us objected to the fact that all these core issues had been apparently censored from the survey. DOE officials then made an offer that class size and test prep would be included in a catch-all question at the end, so that parents could select one of these among a long list of ten issues that concerned them. Still omitted completely was any mention of SLTs, and/or the attitude towards the principal towards parents.

This is not an adequate compromise. The survey is quite lengthy and repetitive, with several questions that do not relate at all to our concerns and do not appear to have come from our groups. Instead, some of the questions appear to put the burden on us as parents if our children are not being adequately provided with individualized instruction.

We feel strongly that, especially given such a lengthy survey, each of the core issues mentioned above – class size, testing and test prep, SLTs, and the principal’s attitude towards parents, are critically important, and each deserves its own separate question in the survey.

There is a further point – which is that even if the survey had been composed to honestly measure what issues we believe need addressing in our schools, its results will only count towards 3-5% at most of any school’s grade – with 85% relying primarily on student test scores. Therefore the entire accountability system as currently designed gives scant importance and value to the views of parents.

If the parent survey is not rewritten to address all of our core issues, and then to account for a larger portion of our schools’ grades, we may encourage the parents in our various networks to boycott the survey, to protest that once again, DOE officials have not listened to us adequately, do not take our concerns seriously and do not respect our input – even as it relates to the parent survey itself.

We look forward to your prompt reply.


Lisa Donlan, Community Education Council District 1*

Leonie Haimson, D2 parent and Executive Director, Class Size Matters

Bijou Miller, District 2 Presidents Council

Marvin Shelton, President, Community Education Council District 10*

Susan Crawford, D3 parent and The Right to Read Project

Sue Dietrich, CPAC representative for District 31

Rob Caloras, President, Community Education Council District 26

Sherri Donders, Staten Island parent leader


· affiliation for identification purposes only

From: Klein Joel I. []
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2007 4:04 PM
To: Leonie Haimson
Cc: Liebman James; Lopatin Adina; Stroud William (30Q580)
Subject: RE: parent survey

Thank you for you email.

I have every confidence in the open and encompassing process used to develop these surveys and their senstive reflection of the concerns of the many parents, teachers and students we consulted in the design process. The surveys will provide an important way for parents, teachers and students to be heard, and powerful tools for evaluating and improving our schools.

I invite you to sit down with my survey design team to go over in detail the process that was used (which you have mischaracterized in your email) and the reasons why any one or another of the many hunderds questions that were proposed were not included in the surveys. Please contact Jim Liebman if you would like to follow up.

Most importantly, I hope you will not deprive yourselves or seek to deprive anyone else of the chance to exercise the kind of voice and influence over our schools that every parent, secondary student, and teacher in the City deserves.

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