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Learn NY introduces itself to parents by writing to e-mail lists

The lobbying group that is campaigning to preserve the mayor’s control of the public school system is making good on its promise to reach out to parents. Today a staffer at the group, called Learn NY, sent an introductory message to e-mail lists run by public school parents.

The staffer explained the group’s mission, promised to send follow-up messages about the positive effects of mayoral control, and asked for feedback.

She wrote:

the more we hear from parents, the more we can improve the mayoral control law when it comes up for renewal next year. I would love to gather some feedback from you to help us better inform lawmakers in Albany of what’s working and what’s not.

The messages went out to at least two list-serves, one for parents in District 3 and one for parents of gifted and talented students, at about the same time today, 11:50 a.m. and 11:52 a.m, respectively. One list has already seen some responses, a mix of confusion and suspicion.

Here’s one parent’s reaction:

In the interest of fairness, I suppose this person should be allowed to post. However, this looks like(and probably is) part of a PR campaign from the mayor to tout mayoral control. I am going to contact this person and find out exactly who she represents.

For the record, though Mayor Bloomberg also supports renewing mayoral control, which he hopes to make a hallmark of his legacy, and though Learn NY early on had ties to the top City Hall and Department of Education officials, the group says that it has received no money from the mayor and claims it is totally independent of him. Learn NY’s lead spokesman, Geoffrey Canada, runs a service organization in Harlem that has received large donations (more than $500,000) from the mayor. But Canada has openly criticized parts of the Bloomberg administration’s education program — including its parental engagement, which he called inadequate.

Here’s the full e-mail sent to the District 3 list (which by the way includes parents from the Upper West Side and Manhattan Valley):

Hello Harlem Parents,

My name is Robin Warren and I work with an education advocacy coalition called Learn NY based here in New York City.

Some background on our organization: Learn NY is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that each of New York City’s students receives a high-quality education. We believe in an education governance system that provides our schools with accountability and efficiency, so that our children have a chance at a brighter future.

I am reaching out to online New York City parent communities across all five boroughs to introduce our organization and to hopefully begin a real dialogue with you all.

In this community and other New York neighborhoods, concerned parents are discussing how we can improve the education system in New York City; one of the issues that we are trying to raise more awareness about is the renewal of the important Mayoral Control Law, as well as
how we can work to improve it.

In the coming weeks, I hope to come back here to give some more background on Learn NY and on this issue for those who might be less familiar with the law. I also want to share with you some of the results and improvements that we seen, and which are directly
benefitting New York City students.

And lastly, the more we hear from parents, the more we can improve the mayoral control law when it comes up for renewal next year. I would love to gather some feedback from you to help us better inform lawmakers in Albany of what’s working and what’s not.

Parents from across the City are getting involved with Learn NY, and we hope you will too. We have received many comments noting the differences in the school system recently, from how the schools are safer to the increase in test scores.

If you would like to share your observations about your school’s performance recently, please share your story with us on our website, a post here, or you can write to me at robin@…

We all want the best for our children. You can learn more about Mayoral Control at our website www.learn-ny.org, read what others are saying at www.Learn-NY.org/Viewpoints, or follow our blog at www.Learn-NY.org/Blog..

I look forward to continuing this discussion with you all.

Robin

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