Regarding “Board bumps reform groups from LSC training,” (September 1998), we understand your effort to give a balanced report. But we don’t understand your assumption that when there is contention, each side necessarily bears equal responsibility for it. In this case, there is clearly a correct position, and it’s that which stands for a diverse delivery system for local school council training. This is the position that stands for children, schools and communities. The other position is concerned more with power plays and asserting its authority, actually at the expense of its constituents.
The fact is the School Board has misrepresented its own practice in the “invent a policy” marathon. It advances a policy that supposedly protects LSCs from inferior or substandard training by asserting that it and City Colleges are the only entities qualified to deliver this training. Mr. James Deanes, director of School and Community Relations, also professes that this is even-handed and not personal against any particular organization. Well, it turns out the Mr. Deanes didn’t give you the whole truth.
Other training questionable
In fact, the board has anointed other groups, such as private consultants. The board permits these consultants to contract directly with schools. What’s more, the board doesn’t mind that these for-profit groups charge a substantial fee to the schools for the same training content that the reform organizations provide at no cost. It also turns out that a number of the consultant groups themselves have had no exposure to trainer preparation, nor is their training in any way monitored by the School Board or by City Colleges. They were approved by the board, in writing, on the basis of their good intentions and having some sort of “inside track” at Pershing Road, rather than on the basis of their qualifications as training experts.
We can’t forget the image of Trustee Norman Bobbins, getting out of his chair at a recent board meeting, approaching the audience (for emphasis and sincerity) and proclaiming how they must protect the sanctity of the board’s training and how he couldn’t possible entrust it to any outside group. Apparently he, like Catalyst, did not get the full story from his own leadership.
It should also be obvious that the board’s arguments that they have not singled out Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) and others, or that they have done this as a quality control measure, are without substance. Once you verify these assertions, I’m sure you will no longer permit the Board of Education to use your very credible and highly regarded publication to promote its own agendas of exclusion and vindictiveness.
RaeLynne Toperoff, executive director
Teachers’ Task Force