2005-11-30 / Features

Ask The Chancellor

By Joel I. Klein Chancellor,

By Joel I. Klein
Chancellor,

New York City Public Schools

Question: I want to know more about how my child is doing in school and get more involved in her education, but I don’t know where to begin. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Parent involvement is critical to the success of our students and schools. One of the most important ways you can be involved in your child’s education is to have regular conversations with her teachers. Schools hold Parent-Teacher Conferences every fall and spring, but you can call your school to set up a meeting with your child’s teachers at any time.

The Department of Education has created many other opportunities for parents to become meaningfully engaged in their children’s education. Your school’s Parent Coordinator (PC) can connect you to these opportunities as well as resolve questions and concerns you have about your child’s school. PCs also offer parent workshops throughout the year that offer concrete suggestions for becoming more involved in your child’s education. To find out how to contact your school’s PC, call 311 or visit your school’s webpage at www.nycenet.edu/OurSchools/.

If your child is participating in the Saturday and Holiday Preparatory Academy for third, fifth and seventh graders, your involvement will be critical to his or her success in the program. Each Academy site will offer different activities for families, but all participating parents can expect interesting and educational programs that will give them specific information about how they can support their child’s learning at home.

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Question: My daughter attends a public school in the city, and I don’t speak English. How do I learn about important school information?

Answer: The Department is committed to giving all parents the information they need to participate in their child’s education, regardless of whether they speak English. The Department has a staff of professional translators and a network of qualified vendors who help make critical information accessible to the diverse communities the school system serves.

The Department provides many important documents – including parent handbooks, letters explaining academic support services and agendas for Community Education Council meetings – in eight languages. Interpreters are available at meetings of the Panel for Educational Policy, English Language Learner parent conferences, Community Education Council meetings and other important parent meetings the Department organizes. The Department can also provide over-the-phone interpretation services to help overcome language barriers between teachers and parents.

I encourage all non-English-speaking parents to take advantage of these services and become even more involved in their child’s education. To learn more about the Department’s translation and interpretation services, visit http://www.nycenet.edu/Offices/Translation/ or contact your school’s Parent Coordinator.

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Question: My son is in high school. Can I keep military recruiters from contacting him?

Answer: Federal law requires the Department of Education to provide the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of high school students to institutions of higher education and military recruiters who request this information. However, students and parents have the right to opt out of disclosure to military recruiters, institutions of higher education, or both by submitting an opt out form at any time. You can get this form from your children’s school or download it at http://www.nycenet.edu/Administration/Offices/youthdev/. There is no deadline for opting out.

While the Department is committed to protecting student privacy, we must comply with the law. Therefore, until a student submits an opt out form, that student’s school must disclose his or her contact information when it is requested in accordance with the law.

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I am delighted to address your questions about news in our schools. Send your questions to the address below, or send them via e-mail to AsktheChancellor@nycboe.net.

Ask the Chancellor

52 Chambers St., Room 314

New York, NY 10007

Sincerely,

Joel I. Klein

Look for “Ask the Chancellor” in this paper every month. Due to space limitations, we cannot publish or respond to all the questions we receive. You can find answers to many questions on the Department’s website at www.nycenet.edu or by calling 311.

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