As kids die, board ponders more power for parents
Last night's city school board meeting was the longest in ages, and that's even after Dr. Alonso spared us a 54-page PowerPoint presentation about Fair Student Funding (tabled til next time). There was plenty of drama to go around, perhaps most notably the outburst by the activist known as Grandma Edna, who said she was there representing a 10-year-old girl afraid to go to school because her teacher punched a classmate. Angry that she hasn't gotten a response about a character education program she wants city schools to adopt, Grandma Edna essentially accused the system of being complicit in the murders of the 25 city youth who have been killed this year -- nine of them since the start of the academic year and four in the past month, including one on school grounds. Board chair Brian Morris led a moment of silence for the slain children at the beginning of the meeting, and Grandma Edna was one of many to refer to them in the four hours that followed.
So what did the board actually do in that time? It voted to close schools on Inauguration Day, urging parents to make the day a family learning opportunity. It approved the creation of three new charter schools (one KIPP and two City Neighbors), expanding parents' options. (Five charter applications were on the table, but the board rejected The Stadium School's application to convert into a charter, and a motion to create the Foundations Charter School died for lack of a second.)
The board also reviewed proposed changes to the parent and community engagement policy, to be voted on Jan. 13. The proposal requires each school to have a School Family Council (replacing the school improvement team) with two parents and two community representatives who give the CEO feedback on the budget process and principal selection.