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Parents To Board of Regents: Districts “Lack Input” Upstate and Down

July 29, 2008

Albany, NY — Angry parents from across the state told the Board of Regents Monday that local school boards are giving them the cold shoulder over planning for the next school year. Under state law, "Contracts for Excellence" are supposed to guarantee that parents have input into program choices.

Buffalo firefighter and substitute teacher Bryon McIntyre told the Board that even though he has four children in public school, he doesn't believe his school district has been listening to him or to other parents.

"They were supposed to have met with parents throughout the year to develop a plan, and they didn't do that. They did it, but it was a farce — it was a sham."

More than a hundred parents showed up for the Regents' meeting. They alleged that school boards made the process too complicated for them to have a real say. The Board of Regents said it would look into the compliance issues that were raised.

Zakihah Ansari, with the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, has four children enrolled in New York City public schools. She complains that school districts use so many complicated terms when they discuss school programs that parents have a hard time taking part effectively in curriculum planning.

"They talk about the 'E-A-M-O' of this, that and the other. I'm a parent. I need language I can read and understand because otherwise I don't understand what's happening in this. It's not transparent, which it was supposed to be, clearly. How can we hold anybody accountable, if we don't understand what it is?"

In addition to people from Buffalo and New York City, parents and students from Albany, Rochester, Syracuse and Long Island also took part in the protest. School districts have until August 15th to submit their plans to the board.

Michael Clifford/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - NY