Some time ago, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott formed an organization called the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, a group designed to provide Mr. Walcott with important input from the front lines of the public school system.
Nobody would ever say that the parents are an objective source of information about local schools—that’s not the point. But Mr. Walcott probably assumed that the parents would at least provide him with insight free of any hidden agenda, and certainly without fear or favor.
Well, if he did make that assumption, he was, sadly, so very wrong.
The parents group has become little more than a shill for the teachers union, a group that regularly puts archaic work rules and the status quo ahead of the best interests of children.
The parents were scheduled to participate in Albany’s annual dreary exercise known as Lobby Day on March 6. That’s the day when special interests swarm through the Capitol, looking to grab hold of lawmakers and key staff members and make their case for—you guessed it—their special interest.
The United Federation of Teachers helped to set the agenda for the parents and will provide bus transportation for 100 of them. There was nothing secretive about this—the union was quite happy to acknowledge its involvement, and the parents seemed strangely thrilled that a group that stands in the way of school reform was arranging their trip.
Rather than carrying the union’s water, these parents ought to be manning the barricades to protest the UFT’s scandalous refusal to accept a new evaluation system designed to bring a modicum of accountability into the classroom. The UFT’s position has cost the city $250 million in state aid—even in a large school system like New York’s, $250 million isn’t chump change.
Rather than demand an end to this ongoing deadlock, members of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council chose to cut and paste from UFT’s agenda and call it their own. What a wasted opportunity.