In order for public education to be a truly public institution, parents and community members should have the opportunity to learn about what goes on in their local schools and give their input. Though this seems like one of those no-brainer policies, parents in New York City have been forced to take the issue to the State Supreme Court to ensure their right to have a voice in their children's education.
In a lawsuit filed by NYC parents and the Education Law Center's Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the Supreme Court ruled that the city had "flagrantly violated" the Contract for Excellence (C4E) law that is meant to give parents and communities a voice in the development of the city's education budget:
"The C4E law was designed to ensure that the public has input on how DOE spends state school aid by requiring one public hearing in every borough of New York. However, for the past two years the DOE has flagrantly violated the law by failing not only to hold hearings in a timely manner, but to hold any borough-wide public hearings at all. The DOE’s action completely eliminated the public process required by the C4E law, thus preventing parents from participating in the development of the City's annual C4E school spending plan."
The ruling is being hailed in particular because it holds policymaker accountable in an age when "accountability" usually means demonizing educators through the use of high-stakes standardized testing. Rarely is the phrase used to point out the responsibility of policymakers to ensure that schools, teachers and students have the resources and opportunities they need to succeed. Lisa Shaw, a parent and plaintiff in the lawsuit, noted that small class sizes are a parent priority every year, yet without the C4E hearings, parents wouldn't have the chance to demand that opportunity for their children:
"Students are tested to the extreme for so-called accountability purposes, but rarely is anyone able to hold Chancellor Wolcott accountable. The Judge did so in this decisions."
Read more about the lawsuit and ruling here!