Sunday, January 6, 2019

Why parents should apply to run for their Community or Citywide Council -- despite the limitations of that role

Elections for District Community Education Councils and Citywide Councils will be held this spring, with the application process starting next month on Feb. 14.  Serving on these Councils is often frustrating as they have very little power other than advisory - and even the advice they give is often ignored. 
As Deb Alexander, the co-President of CEC 30, pointed out a recent Queens town hall meeting, when CECs pass resolutions on important policy questions, they are completely ignored by the Mayor and Chancellor and don't even get a response.  At the meeting, De Blasio then said someone at DOE would now be charged with responding to CEC resolutions - this after almost six years of failing to do so.  
Deb also pointed out that no CEC member was appointed by him to the advisory committee on the Amazon headquarters in Long Island City - despite extreme school overcrowding in the neighborhood, and the fact that two potential school sites were given to Amazon for their new headquarters, without any consultation with neighborhood residents. The Mayor then said he would add a CEC member -- but the fact that this never occurred to him in the first place is emblematic of the lowly position that CECs and parents in general appear to have in his overall scheme of things.
When he initially ran for Mayor, De Blasio also made specific promises that if elected, his appointees on the Panel for Educational Policy would have to refer specifically to the positions of CECs on school closings or co-locations in their districts before voting on whether to approve them.  He wrote this in 2013 on the NYC Kids PAC survey: "The Panel for Educational Policy must address the PEP's vote on major school utilization changes in their PEP meetings. They must state why they disagree with the local CEC and work with the local CEC for alternative solutions." 
Nothing of the sort has happened, and again, despite all the claims of this administration, little attention has been given to parent or community input in these decisions, or other controversial policies. The one power that CECs assuredly have by state law is to approve changes in school zoning lines -- and even then, that authority is often ignored by the DOE when they want to close a zoned school, which in the case of PS 25 in District 16, has prompted a lawsuit.  
All in all, it is not surprising to discover  that 31 out of 36 Councils do not have their full compliment of members currently, according to the DOE website, given the lack of respect they have been given by the last two administrations.  Perhaps this is one reason why the Education Council Consortium, the organization consisting of CEC and Citywide Council leaders, wants to put limits on the unilateral system of mayoral control. 
Nevertheless, serving on your CEC or a Citywide Council is important, and I urge parents to apply.  Often, members are given briefings by DOE and thus informed of policies before others hear about them.  In some cases, as in the diversity initiatives undertaken by CEC 1 and CEC 15, they can help shape the plans of the administration, especially when they are in general agreement with the Mayor's goals.  They also have a potential impact in organizing parents in the district to lobby local elected officials to site and build new schools in the district, to help ease overcrowding.  Many CEC members have been important in advocating for better policies.  We have been pressing for CECs to have a formal advisory role in the city planning process, similar to Community Boards currently.  And if Mayoral control is amended in the next legislative session, their role in school governance may indeed be enhanced.  
More reasons to join these Councils are articulated by Camille Casaretti, President of CEC 15, in the message below.   You can apply here starting Feb. 14; deadline March 19.

District 15 Families,

A VERY Happy New Year to you all! 
As you consider your goals for this New Year, I would like to offer this exciting opportunity.
The 2019 CEC Elections are upon us and will be officially announced in January. The application period will open on February 14.
As an involved and engaged community member, you should consider running for a seat on the D15 Community Education Council. You come to the meetings, you read the emails, you want to learn about how the system works and how you can help. You volunteer in your child's school, you led a team. You got this too!
If you have the time and passion to fight for public education, and you are prepared to take on a leadership role in our District to advocate for our 35 school communities, fill out that application when it arrives at your inbox. You're going to get the information from us and you'll get it from the DOE as well if you are signed up on their mailing list. Sign up now and check off Updates for Parents and Families.
The impact and value CECs bring to the communities they represent is immeasurable. But there's more to it. You get something for your family, too! When your own child sees you in action you are teaching them a lesson in civic engagement, a lesson on giving back to the community, and a lesson in caring about others. 
Come to one of our January Meetings and talk to your CEC15 school liaison about why they ran. You may find you have similar reasons. Ask them what they love about being a CEC member and what drives them crazy. It isn't always perfect.
Flyers will be coming soon with more information. You have time to think about it. If you have questions, please contact the DOE’s Office of Family and Community Empowerment (FACE) about the CEC Elections at or at 212-374-1936.
Wishing you all the best in 2019!
Estimadas Familias del Distrito 15,
Estamos muy contentos de compartir con ustedes que las Elecciones de CEC 2019 ya están a punto de comenzar y será anunciado oficialmente en enero.  El plazo pare solicitar una aplicación comenzará el 14 de febrero.  
Como miembro involucrado y comprometido de la comunidad, usted debe considerar postularse para un asiento en el Consejo de Educación Comunal Distrito 15.  Viene a las reuniones, lee los correos electrónicos, quiere aprender sobre como el sistema trabaja y como usted puede ayudar.  Es voluntario en la escuela de su hijo(a), usted dirigió un equipo.  ¡Usted puede con esto también!
Si tiene el tiempo y la pasión para luchar por la educación pública, y está preparado(a) para asumir un papel de liderazgo en nuestro Distrito para abogar por nuestras 35 comunidades escolares, complete esa solicitud cuando llegue a su buzón electrónico.  Obtendrá la información de nosotros y también la recibirá del Departamento de Educación si está registrado(a) en su lista de correo electrónico.   ¡Regístrese ahora y marque Updates for Parents and Families (Últimas Noticias para Padres y Familias)!
El impacto y el valor que los Consejos de Educación Comunal (CEC) de la ciudad traen a las comunidades que ellos representan es inmenso.  Pero hay más que eso.  ¡También obtiene algo para su familia!  Cuando su propio(a) hijo(a) lo ve a usted en acción, le está enseñando una lección sobre participación cívica, una lección sobre cómo devolver a la comunidad y una lección sobre cómo preocuparse por los demás.
Asista a una de nuestras reuniones de enero y hable con su enlace escolar de CEC15 sobre por qué se postularon para un puesto en el CEC.  Podrá darse cuenta que tienen razones similares.  Pregúntele qué le gusta de ser un miembro del CEC y qué los vuelve locos.  No es siempre perfecto.
Los folletos llegarán prontos con más información.  Tiene tiempo para pensarlo.  Si tiene alguna pregunta, comuníquese con la Oficina de Empoderamiento Familiar y Comunitario (the Office of Family and Community Empowerment), o mejor conocido como FACE, del Departamento de Educación a o al 212-374-1936. 
¡Deseandoles lo mejor!

Camille Casaretti
Presidente del CEC15

1 comment:

Deb said...

Thanks, Leonie. It should be noted that since that meeting CEC 30 has not yet been informed that they are on the Amazon community committee. I will say (credit where it's due) that FACE has been stepping up as a support, rather than a road block, and I believe Hydra Mendoza is an excellent addition to the DOE with genuine good intentions toward meaningful parent involvement. We shall see.....