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Mayor Michael Bloomberg: June 2010 Archives

June 2010 Archives

Before 2002, if you had a question or complaint about city services, you had to search through 11 pages of government listings in the phonebook just to find the right person to ask. Today, you can get your answer or register an issue anytime by simply calling 311. And more than 50,000 New Yorkers do so each day.

Although 311 has helped to simplify most interactions with city government, parents with simple questions about their child's education still face a dizzying menu of office names and contact numbers. Want to know if your child is eligible for the school bus? Call the office of pupil transportation. Want to know how to apply for a gifted and talented program? Try the division of enrollment.

Last week, we streamlined this complicated system and created a new 311 call-center that provides parents of schoolchildren with a direct line to education experts who can answer their questions. Parents can call any time of the day -- any day of the week -- and get help in 179 languages.

Parent coordinators should still be a family's first point of contact for questions specific to their child's school or class, but now parents will have an easy way to get any other information they need. Do you want to know how to register your child for school? Call 311. Want to know what time the bus will pick up and drop off your child? Call 311. Need help accessing school data online? Call 311.

We believe that 311 is going to transform the way parents learn about schools the same way that 311 changed the way our citizens interact with their government.

With one number fielding every school-related inquiry, we can make sure parents receive the same consistent service and information. And 311 won't just allow us to respond better; we will also use what we learn from these calls to manage better. The data we collect from 311 will let us track parents' most prevalent concerns and then set priorities accordingly. Most importantly, the new capabilities of 311 will help our city's nearly two million public school parents and guardians become more involved in their children's education.

Nothing can replace the involvement of a caring parent or guardian; that's why we continue to look for new ways to make parents and guardians full partners in education. We have, for example, expanded the Department of Education's translation unit so that we can communicate in the eight languages spoken by 95 percent of the families in our school system. We've also established parent coordinators in every single school. We now release report cards for each school, so parents can see how their child's school is performing. And we've created the largest school survey in history, giving parents a new way to tell us what we're doing well and what we need to do better.

We know that being a parent is more than a fulltime job, and it certainly doesn't end when business hours are over. With the new 311, parents can get the help they need and stay connected to their child's education -- day or night. That's essential, because parents are the ones who must reinforce the lessons our students learn in the classroom each day. And it's their encouragement and support that motivate our students to dream bigger and work even harder to realize those dreams. 

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