Public school parents’ Bill of Rights proposed

Flanked by Senator Ruth Hassell Thompson and Assemblyman Carl Heastie, public advocate candidate and Councilman Bill deBlasio spoke about his “bill of rights” for public school parents. Photo by Victor Chu

The school year has begun, and many are thinking about ways in which parents can have a greater say in school policy and curriculum.

Even though there are Community Education Councils representing every public school in the Department of Education, some are calling for more transparency in the way schools are run and looking for ways to engage parents of children in our public school system.

Public Advocate candidate and Brooklyn councilman Bill deBlasio have proposed A Public School Parent’s Bill of Rights. Legislators Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Assemblyman Carl Heastie joined him on Wednesday, September 2 to support his plan to increase parental involvement. The meeting took place near a public school on Baychester Avenue.

“As a public school parent, I know that our city can do more to bring our public schools to the top of the class,” DeBlasio said. “With the first day of school just a week away, there is no better time to make increasing parental involvement a top priority. As public advocate, I will work to build on the successes of mayoral control and implement much needed reforms.”

DeBlasio’s 10-point “bill of rights” calls for “honest, respectful two-way communication with local school representatives and Department of Education officials,” “timely and accurate information about opportunities available to students,” and “access to comprehensive and thoughtful information about the performance of children’s schools.”

Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson praised the bill of rights.

“We need to make sure that parents have their needs met and play a vital role in the public school system,” Thompson said.

The plan, first released in the spring, guarantees numerous rights, including access to seating in local schools, advance information about changes that affect families, and open lines of communication with school representatives who can solve problems within schools.

“As public advocate, Bill will put the public back in public schools,” Heastie, who attended public schools all the way up to graduate school, said. “I am proud to support Bill because he is a public school parent who will fight to make our education system open and accountable for all New Yorkers.”

DeBlasio stressed his own role as parent of children in public schools, which opened on Wednesday, September 9. He said that he thought giving parents a Bill of Rights would encourage collaboration with administrators and teachers.

“Parents need to feel secure and know when they walk into a school building that they will get answers to their questions,” CEC 11 president Monica Major said.

More from Around NYC