Gates-funded project leaves parents off the list of key stakeholders, once again

The research organization AIR was funded by the Gates Foundation to commission a series of papers on the Bloomberg/Klein education reforms, and to “convene a working conference….to inform future educational improvement efforts in the city.”

Reportedly, the papers will be published in a collection by Harvard University Press.

On November 10, they are holding an “invitation-only” forum at the downtown Hyatt hotel to discuss the results of their findings in what has been described as “an opportunity for dialogue and conversation among NYC stakeholders, DOE staff, and researchers…” (see invitation below.)

Yet the only NYC public school parents who have been invited to participate in this “dialogue and conversation” of stakeholders are the five borough-appointed members of the Panel for Educational Policy.

This exclusion of parents is reminiscent of the definition of stakeholders put forward by Secretary Arne Duncan and Joanne Weiss, when she ran the federal “Race to the Top” program (both of them former Gates grantees as well).

In their list of “key stakeholders”, they included education administrators, the teachers union, the business community and charter school operators, but not public school parents, as those groups that states were supposed to elicit support for their proposals. (They put in parents in afterwards, and only pro forma, after receiving negative feedback.)

Here is what Patrick Sullivan wrote in his comments to the US Education Department at the time:

One factor considered in awarding the grants to each state is the extent to which support and commitment of key stakeholders is enlisted (Overall Selection Criteria E3). While the administration has a long list of stakeholders, parents are not on it. Charter schools, teachers unions and foundations are deemed to be important stakeholders but not parents.

For this conference, once again, the concept of stakeholders appears to exclude public school parents and their children, who have been most affected and disenfranchised by the policies of this administration.

Parents aren’t even at the bottom of the list. In fact, they don’t exist at all.

On Oct 26, 2010, at 4:00 PM, nycretrospective <nycretrospective@air.org> wrote:



Dear all,

I just wanted to remind you of the conference invitation attached. The meeting will take place in two weeks (November 10th) and will be an opportunity for dialogue and conversation among NYC stakeholders, DOE staff, and researchers from inside and outside NYC about the findings of the NYC Education Reform Retrospective project. This is an invitation only conference and has been designed to offer an intimate venue for sharing ideas and considering implications for reform efforts in NYC and elsewhere. You have been invited based on your involvement in the NYC education reforms or your relevant research or practical experience. We hope that you will be able to join us and contribute to this discussion.

We have extended the RSVP and registration date to November 1st.

If you plan to attend, please fill out the attached registration form and e-mail it back to nycretrospective@air.org by November 1st.

If you are unable to join us, please reply to nycretrospective@air.org by November 1st to say you will not be attending.

We look forward to seeing you in NYC on the 10th!

Jennifer O'Day, Project Director for the New York City Education Reform Retrospective

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