To the Editor: "I always voted at the Chancellor's call
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all;
I thought so little they rewarded me
By giving me the status of an appointee." (with a nod to Gilbert and Sullivan)
The city's Panel for Educational Policy is all mouth and no teeth. During the Bloomberg administration, the PEP was set up to be a set up and its irrelevancy has endured.
Its members are proxies, puppets, parrots and props of the mayor and borough presidents who appoint them.
To remain in their posts, all they need do is sit at a dais, look serious, pretend to be interested and open-minded, and rubber-stamp the policy decisions of their patrons, which were already set in stone long before the public hearings were even scheduled.
There are no qualifications to serve on the PEP. Being clueless about education is not only not a deal-breaker but actually be a selling point for an aspiring candidate.
PEP holds monthly meetings that are spellbindingly dull, except when its members are disrespecting aggrieved community members who get cut off at the microphone when they run a second over their two-minute speaking time allowance.
These meetings stretch for hours and never lead to a reversal of PEP's preordained positions, regardless of testimony or evidence that comes to light.
Although the PEP is empty of substance, it is not bereft of purpose. Its members play a critical role by appearing to be a legitimate democratic deliberative body. Its a charade, similar to public meetings by the MTA or Con Edison prior to inevitable rate increases.
PEP meetings should be attended despite their uselessness, because if the public doesn't show up and voice complaints, the DOE could then claim that then public approves of what they're doing. But it's an illusion to think that the public could ever hold the PEP's feet to the fire because their "feet" are those of the Chancellor and his master the Mayor.
The PEP has been criticized for sometimes injecting a tone of arrogance and condescension in their responses to comments by parents, educators and community members. This attitude is encouraged by the placement of the open-mic period at the tail end of the agenda, and by the disparate allocation of speaking time for politicians, for example, and other attendees.
Reportedly, at one recent meeting, the opportunity to be heard didn't start until 1:00 a.m. According to a reliable source, a Zoom meeting lasted until 4 a.m..
But a revolutionary change has just been announced! Political hacks and their water-carriers will in future be restricted to 5 minutes at the microphone; the rest of the world gets two.
If the PEP figured in a Jeopardy answer, it would be in response to: "The greatest waste of time for New Yorkers who want to influence education policy in the public schools?"
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