Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Need Help From Bloomberg's Education Department? Good Luck!

Mayor Moneybags and Chancellor Klein have embarked upon their third Department of Education reorganization in the last five years.

As such, everything in the system has been thrown into flux.

The old superintendent offices are long gone, the central office at Court Street has been turned into condos and the office at Tweed doesn't respond very promptly to questions at the school level (though they do respond very quickly to photo ops, interview requests, and call-in polls about the job Chancellor Klein is doing!)

It would be nice if Mayor Moneybags could create a kind of 311 line for the school system which parents could call and get their questions about the increasingly complex and ever-changing system answered by Education officials.

Lo and behold, the community school districts (which Bloomberg abolished under the second reorganization but brought back for the third one!!!) have help lines, but the Daily News reports you cannot get too much help from them:

Answers can be hard to come by at the city's community school district offices, a survey by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum found.

Fewer than a third of daytime calls to the city Education Department's help centers were answered by a person, and just 10% of voice mails left at the offices were returned, according to the survey.

"The start of the school year can be a stressful time for parents and students. The DOE makes matters worse by providing very little information and support," Gotbaum said yesterday.

Staffers called each of the 32 offices three times in the past two weeks, once in English and once in Spanish during the daytime, and then once in English during the evening. The callers posed as parents trying to enroll their kids.

Just three school staffers were able to provide services in Spanish. One Brooklyn office's phone number was disconnected and seven daytime calls were never answered.

Once again, the mayor's and the chancellor's constant reorganization of the school system has hurt the kids, the parents, and the staff working in the system.

Many who are knowledgeable about the school system say the constant reorganization is being done so that Bloomberg and Klein can hold off accountability by saying the school system is "still changing..."

Bloomberg and Klein ought to settle on one model for the system and let it run for a few years to see if it works or not.

But so far, they radically change things every year and a half, let the chaos ensue and blame all the problems on the old Board of Education (now gone 5 years), the old mayor (also gone 5 years), or DOE employees.

Never mind that constant chaos is the one model we know is NOT conducive to helping educate children (who need order and consistency to thrive.)

But let's be honest - Bloomberg and Klein aren't interested in educating children. If they were, maybe they'd lower class sizes, decrease capacity at overpopulated schools, and fix the buildings (many of which are mold-infested rat traps.)

I can't argue with any of that. It's amazing that three re-orgs in five years raises the eyebrows of a few bloggers and virtually no one else.
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