Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio are going on tour.
The city leaders — who have faced criticism in some corners that they aren’t seeking enough input from the public — are launching a “parent empowerment tour” to hear first-hand from parent leaders.
Invitations have already been sent for the first stop in Queens next week. The tour is designed for appointed and elected parent leaders — like those who sit on Community Education Councils — so that they can “communicate their thoughts, questions, and concerns,” said Jaclyn Rothenberg, a spokeswoman for de Blasio.
“Now that our new Chancellor is settled in his role, the mayor and Chancellor discussed ways to elevate the voices of elected and appointed parent leaders and decided to embark on a joint tour,” Rothenberg said.
Since taking office last spring, Carranza has already heard from parents at town halls in various districts. He’s fielded a range of questions, from school funding to segregation, while taking heat during at least one over the issue of specialized high school admissions.
Some city parents have aired frustrations about how the education department has communicated with them on hot button issues, such as its controversial plan to integrate some middle schools. It’s unclear if these invitation-only events will stem those critiques.
Rothenberg, though, said this tour wasn’t in response to specific criticism.
“We now have a division that is specifically focused on community empowerment, partnerships and communications,” she said. “All issues that we know we can do better, but we also know we can’t do it alone.”
Carranza, for his part, said he is looking forward to “hitting the road” with the mayor.
“This is part of our work to provide the infrastructure and systems for our parents to be empowered and active, particularly in historically underserved communities,” he said in a statement.
This week, de Blasio faced criticism for being increasingly absent from City Hall and losing focus on developing policy, though he’s met regularly with Carranza.
“As a former public school parent and school board member, ensuring that all of our city’s children regardless of zip code have access to an excellent education is my priority,” de Blasio said in a statement.
In his first two months as chancellor, Carranza embarked on his own listening tour and created a progressive to-do list for the school system.
“Just like the Chancellor’s spring listening tour guided the re-alignment of the DOE, we expect the feedback from these and other parent forums to guide investments, initiatives, and improvements to our schools,” Rothenberg said.