City parents are flying blind.
The Department of Education has yet to announce rudimentary policies three weeks into the new school year — leaving families frustrated and wanting answers.
There has been no decision on screened school admissions metrics for next year.
No dates have been provided regarding annual tests for Gifted and Talented programs or specialized high schools and overall application processes remain unclear.
The DOE has also balked at releasing the results of a parent survey despite promising to reveal them months ago.
“There are three words that describe what parents are feeling right now,” said Queens mom Adriana Aviles. “Frustration, anger, and sadness. Frustration because we have no answers. Anger because there is no communication from Tweed. And sadness because our kids are missing out on social emotional learning and their education.”
Disillusionment with city schools has seeded a new class of activist parents unaccustomed to community organizing and holding rallies.
Aviles is participating in a scheduled gathering in Queens Tuesday afternoon to call for clarity on a range of pressing issues.
Arguing that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have had “more than enough time” to address unanswered questions, organizers urged parents to “join the rally to express our frustration on their lack of a plan.”
Asked about the dearth of guidance for the new year at his daily briefing Tuesday, de Blasio called the question “fair” but urged patience and stressed the impact of the coronavirus on school operations.
“I think the bottom line here is the first thing we had to do was get the nation’s largest school system up in a healthy and safe manner,” he said.
De Blasio said that more information was en route in the “coming days and weeks” and that the DOE was pivoting its focus from the reopening to policy specifics.
“I think parents understand we’re in uncharted territory,” he said.
Kim Watkins, president of Community Education Council 3 in Manhattan, a parental advisory board, acknowledged the unique problems presented by COVID-19 but said an outline should already have been in place.
“It’s the middle of October and we don’t have a plan,” she said. “I understand that we’re in a pandemic. But there definitely should have been something concrete in place. We knew this was coming.”
City teachers are also functioning in an operational fog, often unsure how to approach grading and attendance protocols.
“We’re winging it in a lot of respects right now,” said a Bed-Stuy elementary school teacher. “We’re hoping that things become a little more certain as we move along.”
Aviles argued that parental resentment stems not just from a lack of timely guidance but limited family engagement in formulating it.
“We are stakeholders,” she said. “We pay taxes. Schools aren’t free. But it feels like that the way we’re being treated, that this is just free education. Parents want to be part of the process and want to be informed. It doesn’t matter if we agree with it or not. Just tell us what is going on so we can get on with our lives.”
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