Seeking an equal say in schools’ future

Carla Rivera:

By the end of the day one thing was clear: Parents, teachers and community organizations want an equal say in determining how the district will be remade.
illaraigosa acknowledged as much in his opening remarks to the group of 100 or so people, who represented church groups, businesses, human services agencies, city and county departments, law enforcement, city councils and numerous schools.
“This issue of ‘mayor control’ is a misnomer,” he told the meeting — billed as an education retreat — at the Doheny campus of Mount St. Mary’s College near downtown. “This is the perfect example of a partnership. I don’t need to bring 200 people together if I was just going to do it alone.”

A close observer of the Madison public education scene for a number of years, I’ve seen this tension grow, something reflected in recent referenda results and board elections.
On the one hand, we have statements from top Administrators like “we have the children” to teachers, on the other; staff and parents very unhappy with a top down, one size fits all approach to many issues (see the most recent example of substantive changes without public discussion). Parental interest and influence (the use of the term influence does not reflect today’s current reality) ranges from those who are extremely active with respect to systemic issues and those active for individual children to various stages of participation and indifference.
In 2006, I believe that parents and citizens continue to have a much smaller role in our K-12 public system governance than they should, given our children’s interests and the District’s source of funds such as property taxes, fees, sales and income taxes recycled through state and federal spending. Madison’s school climate is certainly not unique (Nielsen’s Participation Inequality is a good read in this context).
Peter Gascoyne asked some useful questions in response to Gene Hickok’s recent Washington Post piece. I “think” that Hickok was driving in the direction of a much more substantive parental role in education.