Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Why The Children First Networks Must Go!
One of the worst ideas that came out of the Bloomberg Administration under the Chancellorship of Joel Klein, was the replacing of the 31 District Offices with 62 Children First Networks (now down to 57). The idea behind the replacing of the District Offices with the Children First Networks was to eliminate cronyism and geographic control that the Districts had under the Superintendent. Furthermore, the Children First Networks were to supply administrative and professional development support to the schools of the network at a reasonable cost. However, the Children First Networks have morphed into something very different. Rather than supporting the schools they dictate to them and gives the schools an inferior product. Let's look on why the Children First Networks should be eliminated and replaced by a real school support organization.
Many of the Children First Networks are located far from the 30-35 schools in their networks with many schools located in different Boroughs from their own network! Therefore, the networks are not sensitive to neighborhood or community issues and have little, if any interaction with parents. In fact, most parents have no clue what network their child's school is associated with or where they are located.
Many of the Children First Networks appear to be a "dumping ground" for failed principals and other administrators and managers that nobody else wanted. For every effective network there are many more "ineffective networks" and they are all stretched thin by the many demands that Tweed imposes on them. The networks charge extra for consultant services and many of these consultants hired by the networks are kids right out of college. .Maisie McAdoo of Edwize has a very informative article called "The DOE networks face a new day" and is a must read as a companion piece to this post..
The Children First Networks suffer from a "talent crisis" and many principals question why they are required to choose a network that provides little or no support to their school. Even when the Children First Networks tried to rally the principals to support their continued operation, they only garnered 8% of the principals to sign it and a few claim they never agreed to sign it but were included anyway. Absent in the petition were Queens principals as only one "newbie Principal from a new school" signed the petition to keep the networks. Maybe the reason is that the majority of Queens schools pay $50,000 yearly for basic services to the networks, excluding additional Professional Development and consulting services, which cost extra, while the majority of Brooklyn, Bronx, and Manhattan schools pay only $16,000 yearly.
Tweed has reduced school support services by 32% since 2005 which corresponds to the rise of the Children First Networks and to add "insult to injury" forces the schools to pay the networks to provide some of those support services that the Central DOE used to pay for. The networks are used by Tweed to impose their programs and policies that are not in the best interests of the schools or the children in the classroom. For example telling principals to hire the cheapest and not the best teachers. Remember this?
Finally, the Children First Networks was the creation of ex Deputy Chancellor Eric Naldestern, yes the very same Eric Naldelstern who came up with the idea that principals should have control of their budget including hiring of teachers that has resulted in the "education on the cheap" policy with a 2,000 + person ATR pool. and wasting of $160 million dollars annually. How has that worked out for our schools and students Eric? Not good at all.
I hope that the new Mayor eliminates the nearly worthless Children First Networks and replaces them with the geographically sensitive District Offices and with safeguards to prevent cronyism or corruption by pitting all candidates through a vetting process by an independent panel selected by the Mayor.