Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott presented a five-point plan to increase parent engagement on Wednesday night, proposing the creation of "parent academies" in every borough, and the introduction of a system to rate schools' parent involvement efforts. High school Progress Reports released earlier this week showed that many graduates are not prepared to do college-level work. Walcott said on Wednesday that schools alone cannot boost college-readiness and the effort must involve students and families as well.
He delivered his agenda to an invitation-only audience of parents, Tweed officials and school staff with Jesse Mojica, the DOE's director of Family and Community Engagement, at his side. The chancellor, the grandparent of a public school student, promised to improve communication between the DOE and parents and presented a new online hub to distribute information to parents: http://schools.nyc.gov/parentsfamilies.
Among other initiatives, the chancellor said he'd like to strengthen the role of parent coordinators. He did not mention the recent lay-offs of 66 high school parent coordinators.
Parents have complained for years about being marginalized by the DOE and criticism reached a boiling point on Tuesday night at Seward Park, when a meeting on Common Core standards was disrupted by "Occupy" protestors who complained that the DOE was out of touch with its constituents.
Security kept protestors and those without invitations from entering Wednesday's conference on parent involvement, but some who did attend expressed doubt about Walcott's plans. One parent told the Wall Street Journal that after laying off 66 parent coordinators, Walcott's speech came off as "a little hypocritcal."
The Times pointed out that in 2009, the city and state agreed to open a parent training center but neither committed any money to the project. Walcott said he will "seek support from private donors" and will issue a request for proposals from non-profits to help carry out his plans. He said budget woes are not likely to end any time soon and schools will have to learn to "live within our means."
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