Thursday, September 20

Liveblogging the City Council hearing: Q+A

Robert Jackson's fired up, as always. He has OFEA CEO Martine Guerrier on the hotseat.

What's the chain of command for parent engagement?
Everything starts with the parent coordinator. Then to the DFA, then the borough director, then Guerrier herself. Deputy Mayor Walcott interjects: "When all else fails, we receive calls at City Hall."

Is OFEA fully staffed?
Yes at the borough level. There are a few vacancies at the district level. Every district has at least two DFAs.

Where is the list of district family advocates?
"It's online, but our page has not gone up" — want to include information from parent groups, to make it engaging. (I just poked around to find the link Guerrier mentioned — it's not as apparent as she made it out to be, though I did find the inactive link to the misnamed office of "parent engagement.")

Now Jackson says he can't find "the substance" of the policy changes. Guerrier: "The substance comes through discussion" with Klein. Sometimes Jackson plays dumb when interrogating his witnesses — but as a result, he exposes how confusing the DOE's structure can be.

How are changes being disseminated to leaders at the local level?
Presentations were made to PAs and PTAs; CECs received emails in August. But that was summertime, Jackson points out. Guerrier: "Email doesn't take a vacation."

What elected officials have you briefed? Because you and I have not sat down to discuss the structural changes and policy changes.
Guerrier: "We did meet." She notes that Jackson was at a meeting with Speaker Quinn where she (Guerrier) outlined what her plans for OFEA. Guerrier is listing tons of community organizations and governing councils she's met with — sounds like she's been busy. Still, I wonder whether her idea of meetings falls into line with the DOE's illusion that a presentation counts as collaboration.

Why doesn't the name family guide include DFAs' names?
Guerrier doesn't want the guide to be out of date as the DOE undergoes its inevitable turnover.

What's the status of the Parent Engagement task force?
It has submitted findings but recommendations have not yet been finalized. They will be published when they are. Guerrier says she'd like to see the recommendations published by the end of October, when the new SLT regulations are finalized. The task force met for the last time at the end of August.

Why did you wait until this week to release the family guide?
"If you think about it, it takes a long time to make a book like that." She denies any connection between the timing of the guide and today's hearing. She wanted it out the first day of school, but there were problems with translation. Walcott backs her up. Every parent will have a guide within the next few weeks. It's online now.

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