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Parental Participation Urged in New York's 'Contracts for Excellence'

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Thursday, December 20, 2007   

Albany, NY - New York parents want a hands-on approach to their kids' education and, if their aim is to improve it, they're on the right track by getting more involved. That's the conclusion of a report released today by a group of educators and community leaders who say the state hasn't gone far enough to make parents full partners in the state's "Contracts for Excellence."

While the report says the right schools are being targeted for help, it also concludes that success in the classroom must start at home, according to Nikki Jones of the Alliance for Quality Education.

"Parents need to know what is going on in their schools. They need to have a voice. Parents should be able to walk into the school and see what's being made of their investment; to know what programs are being offered to their children. A Spanish-speaking parent with a Spanish-speaking child will know that they have two extra English language teachers in the classroom. Parents have not had this opportunity."

"Contracts for Excellence" uses smaller class sizes, teacher mentoring, and a greater emphasis on language skills to help chronically underachieving schools. The state has invested more than $400 million in the program, primarily in the state's neediest school locations, where students are challenged with disabilities, more families are low-income, and/or English is often a second language.

However, the report says the state has failed to seek parental input when crafting new curriculum in 49 of the 55 affected school districts. A spokesperson for the State Education Department was unavailable for immediate comment.




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