Parents in process of realizing their stakes in public schools


Public meeting of parents

A group of parents (PTA) met to chat about issues related to Davison Ave school on January 17th. The meeting attracted about 20 parents and two administrators—no teacher was present. At the opening, the speaker recalled past events, expressed compliments on how the SEPTA holiday event was organized (in December at DAV), praized their committee on the movies selection, and their new idea to invite families to take holiday pictures. She also thanked the photographer for the beautiful pictures, later distributed in frames, ready to be hung, and announced the recipients of gift cards the PTA awarded to parents for their collection of box tops. Continue reading


Conferences are for growth I (NYSSBA)

NYS School Board Association conference

This post consists of bits of info shared at the annual NYSSBA conference October 14th, 2017. One always learns something new or delves deeper into something already known at a conference. The conferences are for growth. If attending is not possible, one can follow the conference online and read reflections of bloggers. The presenters, educators, administrators, and school board members share their thoughts on issues they are facing at their districts. They influence and help each other learn . Let’s see the topics the NYSSBA conference covered in October. Continue reading


How to involve parents in public schools

School leaders who are genuinely trying to involve parents always find an opportunity to do so. They learn how to involve parents at conferences, seminars and professional development. They understand that by involving parents they can engage the entire community. Parents assigned to various tasks at their school create collaborative school culture and deepen public’s understanding of the school’s operations. The previous post revealed how school leaders can use PTA meetings to evaluate how parents perceive an existing initiative and what they think about a new one.

The benefits of parental involvement in schools have been known for quite some time. Thanks to the positive outcomes, the NYSED commissioner issued a resolution that made every public school to implement a shared decision making committee into the school structure: Continue reading


Leaders ask how to involve parents in public schools

At every EdCamp or ParentCamp I have attended, I encountered school leaders who were asking the question: “What can we do to involve parents?” This past EdCampLI on October 14 was no different. Parent involvement is also discussed at the national PTA conventions, NYSSBA, and NPE conferences. Sometimes finding the answer to the question is right there in front of the school leaders.

Schools are implementing new initiatives all the time. For example, first the STEM, then STEAM, and lately STREAM, the maker spaces, genius hour, coding, spotlight standards, you name it. These initiatives offer ample opportunities to involve parents. Currently, school districts in New York are implementing the new generation science standards (NGSS). Districts have until 2021 to set the standards in effect. Leaders of many public school districts are teaming up together and also with the parents. Continue reading


Weekend rich in events, EdCampLI October 14, 2017

The weekend of October 14th was extremely rich in events. On Saturday, the crowds participated in the Malverne HS homecoming parade and/or in the October festival that took place at the Crossroad farm. Some residents also visited an open house at the Kellenberg HS. On Sunday, the Malverne Educational and Fitness Foundation held its 13th annual Malverne 5K run for education.

In addition to preparations for the Malverne 5K run, I found time for some learning, too. Four years ago, a group of educators-enthusiasts from Bay Shore, Jericho, and Farmingdale founded a local version of the national EdCamp unconferences— EdCampLI. Their goal was to create a locally relevant professional development (PD) that would really matter. And they have succeeded. Now by attending sessions, the educators get credits toward their PD. Continue reading


School board committees —publicly accessible for a reason

Every year at the beginning of the school, parents and school staff ask themselves how the new year will go. The parents ask where they can help and the administrators ask how to get more parents involved in life of the schools. Where there is a will there is a way. Both groups can find answers in the form of shared-decision and board committees.

Although the both types of committees have been around for a long time, they are not well known among parents. For example, only 22 school districts (out of 56) in Nassau County, NY, show signs of activity of various school board committees. That is a very small number given that they complement the structure of public school system. Their main characteristic is that they are task-specific and publicly accessible. Thus, they attract the public. Continue reading


July, start of the new school budget cycle

The abridged version of following post, titled “The school budgeting process needs public input,” appeared in LI Herald on August 10th, 2017. (In print only). Here is the full text of the article, including references.

Every year, school district communities across the New York State develop budgets for the public schools. Their efforts culminate in winter by series of workshops before the budget vote in May. At the end of June, adjustments to the budget are released (see William Floyd SD adjustment) and a new cycle of budget development starts with the school board reorganization in July.

William-Floyd-UFSD-budget-adjustmentIn New York, the public schools are governed by the local Boards of Education (BOE). In the effort to help the board members fulfill their tasks, the communities create standing and ad hoc (temporary) board committees. Repetitive/annual tasks (i.e. budget, facilities, curriculum) require standing committees. Ad hoc committees are formed for short-term tasks (i.e. bond development, employee search, school reorganization). Continue reading


Comparing ethical norms of public school communities

Under the influence of the current accountability trend, The New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) aligned its methodology of evaluating superintendents and school boards to the HEDI matrix. (A sample of the matrix as used by NYSED is below). The 18-page evaluation guidelines are available on the association’s website. The NYSSBA guidelines evaluate more aspects than the matrix. The association added fields dedicated to the quality of the community-school board relationship and the ethics—culture—of the school board and the superintendent. But right at the opening, the guidelines mention they are not binding. Why?

evaluation-agreement-measure-teacher-practice-chart-hedi-matrixThe quality of the community-school board relationship and the ethics are difficult to quantify. People form their own opinions based on their personal beliefs and experiences. Collectively, the individuals set the ethical norms for their community, including the local schools. Community members learn the ethical norms that permeate the schools in various ways. They can attend school board meetings, work with board members on projects, and read opinions of school leaders. Also, the communications released by the school board (BOE), the governing body of the local public schools, reveal the established ethical norms. The school board meeting agendas and minutes exemplify the board’s communications with the public. Continue reading


NYS ESSA Plan comments

On Saturday, June 10th, I attended a public hearing on the NYS ESSA plan. Next to the last of the 13 hearings scheduled across the state. Each state has to submit to the federal DOE how they envision to meet the federal requirements. The plans have to be submitted by September 18th. The NYSED worked out a 159-page draft. The first draft at this time.

I did my part as a parent participating in the system of public education. I raised my issues during the 3-minute window allowed. My concern was that the NYS ESSA plan of teaching foreign languages/LOTE is stated in just two sentences. And one of them read that the state assessments would be translated to about five languages. So, not much vision shared how the NYS “measures” its part in the global arena. Continue reading


School Board Committees—the “public” in public education

At the beginning of February, I reposted in our local FB group dedicated to schools a picture from a vigil held in Port Washington. Some time passed by until a couple of days ago I read an article entitled “Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, published in the New York Times. The article enticed me to develop the facts I learned behind the picture into a story that can help a larger number of public school advocates. I anticipate that the public in public education will be a reoccurring theme in the media quite often.

On the confirmation day of B. DeVos, a senator launched a speech/plea in an attempt to change mind of at least one additional senator. The House was split 50-50. One more “nay” vote and she would not be confirmed as the new secretary of education. The senator’s speech was going long into the night. Continue reading