WEB EXCLUSIVE: A Parent’s Guide to School Involvement

John Tarleton Sep 9, 2010

Uncertain about how to get involved in your neighborhood school? Parent power has been greatly circumscribed under mayoral control but there are still ways parents can participate … and agitate for their kids from within the school system. Here’s a quick tour:

Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) or Parent Associations ( PA) are entry points for parent involvement in their child’s school. PTAs play a crucial role informing parents about matters affecting their children’s education (e.g. curriculum, after school, safety, testing, budget and fundraising) and gathering parent input.

School Leadership Teams, or SLTs, create the school’s Comprehensive Education Plan, which sets academic, programmatic, facility and parent involvement goals as well as plans for implementation. They also provide a channel for guidance and input to and from the school community and the principal. SLTs are made up of a minimum of 50 percent parents, including the PTA president. Other members are staff and teachers, including a union representative and the principal.

There are 32 community school districts in New York each one of which has a Community Education Council (CEC), the successor to the old Community School Boards that existed from 1969 to 2002. The CECs’ power is limited but includes approving changes to the attendance zones for district schools, reviewing the district’s education programs, evaluating the district superintendent, assisting SLTs and holding public forums and hearings. There is a report from the district superintendent at each monthly meeting and an opportunity for the public to voice its concerns. A CEC is composed of nine parents chosen by PTA officers in district schools, two borough president appointees and one high school student.

Presidents Council
The Presidents Council consists of elected PTA/PA presidents from each school in a community school district, providing a monthly forum for parent leaders to address district/citywide education issues and quarterly meetings with the district superintendent.

The Chancellor’s Parent and the Department of Education Advisory Council (CPAC) is composed of representatives from each of the PTA Presidents Councils in the 32 Community School Districts as well as from the Borough High Schools. Until recently, parents citywide had direct communication with the chancellor and the Department of Education through CPAC, which served as the apex of involvement for parents in the policy and operations of NYC’s public schools.

To read more about parents getting involved in the New York City school system from our Sept. 8 issue, click here.

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