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Education Groups: Parents Must Have More Power

June 9, 2009

Albany, NY — Advocates who want to reform the Mayor's powers over New York City schools say parents need a greater say in the decision-making process. Just weeks remain for lawmakers in Albany to agree on what changes, if any, should be made to mayoral control.

State Senator Kevin Parker is sponsor of the Better Schools Act, which would give parents and students greater say in reaching decisions on school matters. Parker says that right now, complaints often fall on deaf ears, even when they come from parents of kids who need a little extra attention.

"I think a seat for a parent who has a child with a disability and a seat for an English Language Learner parent would be a perfect way to begin that process."

Supporters of the mayor say the current system is producing positive results, and they say the mayor's powers should be left as they are. Parker's bill would amend state education law and the City Charter to give parents and students more input.

Parker says lawmakers still need to decide how for how long a time the mayor's powers should be extended.

"We think right now that there ought to be some term; some people are saying we should amend the bill so that there is no term; either way is fine with me — as long as we begin with enhanced mayoral control that has parental involvement and transparency and accountability in it."

Senator Parker was to be among those speaking at a news conference today called by the Campaign for Better Schools, but the briefing was cancelled due to the leadership battle in Albany.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY