Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Sign the letter in support of allowing School Leadership Teams and Community Education Councils to keep meeting online!

Parent and public participation greatly increased after the Covid pandemic forced the meetings of School Leadership Teams and Community and Citywide Councils online.  I myself was able to  present to as many as three CECs in one evening, when I no longer had to travel long distances to each meeting.  And yet the Emergency Order that the Governor issued in mid-March 2020 has now lapsed that allowed these meetings to be held virtually has now lapsed.

The following is a letter the Education Council Consortium plans to send to the Governor,  urging him  to allow the continuation of virtual meetings, if an SLT or CCEC chooses to do so.  Please sign the letter before Wed. June 30 at 7 AM.to support this proposal.

Two bills have been introduced in the State Legislature to amend the Open Meetings Law and allow online public meetings to continue, S7261 by Sen. Brad Hoylman and A8134, by Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou.  The Senate bill would allow public meetings to be conducted both in-person and online at the same time; the Assembly bill would require that a site is  provided to the public to participate in an online, in case they do not have internet access at home.  But neither bill has a chance of passing until the Legislature reconvenes, which won't likely happen until next year.  The only one who would be able allow online public meetings to persist at this time is Gov. Cuomo.


As you know the Governor has lifted the COVID-19 restrictions. This means the Executive Order that enabled CCECs to meet virtually has expired. We believe the virtual platform has enhanced parental engagement and we should be allowed to continue virtual meetings if each CCEC chooses to do so.  

The Steering Committee has drafted a sign on letter for members of CCECs, SLTs and DLTs to sign (see below). The letter also allows for other parents and advocates to sign at: https://tinyurl.com/OMLWaiver2021.

The sign-on form will be open through 7AM Wednesday June 30th.

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We, the undersigned members of Citywide/Community Education Councils, School Leadership Teams, and District Leadership Teams, request a wavier from the Open Meetings Law that requires these bodies to hold in-person public meetings.

Citywide/Community Education Councils (CCECs), School Leadership Teams (SLTs) and District Leadership Teams (DLTs) are part of the New York City public school governance structure intended to enable parents to not only observe important decision making processes at the school and district levels, but also to provide comments and feedback on issues that are important to students and families.  

As permitted under Executive Order 202.1, these bodies have held public meetings remotely since mid-March 2020. Many have found that the number of attendees has greatly increased in remote meetings. It is not surprising that parents with school-aged children found it much easier to attend meetings from the comfort of their own homes without the need to arrange for child care or transportation. It also should be taken into account that the NYC Department of Education provided free internet-enabled devices to families who needed them, allowing more families access to virtual meetings and engaging in the school governance process.  

Virtual meetings have also eased the burden on parent members of CCECs, SLTs and DLTs, who volunteer their time to serve on these bodies. For parent members who have children with disabilities, some of whom require specialized care, remote meetings have allowed them to fulfill their duties with more ease. The parents of New York City’s youngest students have found it more accessible to attend, when they no longer require childcare at home in order to do so. Members of the Citywide Councils have also benefited from remote meetings, which eliminate the need for traveling. For those members who do not own a personal vehicle, traveling by public transportation can often take hours within five boroughs of New York City. Overall, on many levels and for many reasons, parent engagement has increased dramatically with the inclusion of virtual meetings, something we hope you will continue moving forward.

We ask that you issue an Executive Order that exempts these bodies from in-person meetings and gives an option to continue meeting virtually. The NYC Department of Education has also noticed the increase in the number of parents participating in a variety of meetings and supports this request. Perhaps there may be a requirement that bodies opting to continue remote meetings conduct some minimum number of meetings in-person. We believe such an Executive Order will greatly enhance parents’ ability to engage in public schools and allow us to better develop future parent leadership, and are happy to partner with you in crafting a solution that meets the needs of parents across the five boroughs.

Thank you for your consideration.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Students, Parents, Advocates and Elected Officials Call for Education Justice Budget Accountability from the City Council and Mayor




Kaliris Salas-Ramirez (ksalasramirez@gmail.com;718-704-7387)

Leonie Haimson (leoniehaimson@gmail.com; 917-435-9329)

Kate McDonough (katem@dignityandrights.org; 917-617-1927)

Zakiyah Ansari (zakiyah@aqeny.org; 917-309-5742)


NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 28, 2021) — As Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council enter the final days of negotiating a city budget that will greatly impact New York City’s education system, state legislators and education justice advocates gathered today at City Hall to demand that the city invest in an education budget that truly supports the well being of students and school communities. 


The 2021-22 school will kick off with a record high number of new resources for students in New York City. This includes $7 billion in one time funding from the federal stimulus to help students and schools recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. And New York State will be investing $1 billion in state funds to New York City public schools over the next 3 years as it fully funds the state’s Foundation Aid formula.


The Mayor’s proposed education budget falls painfully short and does not deliver on education justice. In a time when we are healing from the collective trauma of the pandemic in a city that never truly funded public schools, students, parents, educators, advocates and elected officials stand united in the call for a just and accountable education budget. 

Among the attendees of today’s press conference were State Legislators Senator Robert Jackson, Assemblymember Jessica Gonzales Rojas, Senator Jabari Brisport, Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson, Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani and Assemblymember Amanda Septimo; as well as organizations including the Alliance for Quality Education, Community Education Council D4, PRESS NYC, Education Council Consortium, Coalition for Educational Justice, Coalition for Asian American Families and Children, New Settlement Parent Action Committee, New Yorkers for Racially Just Public Schools, Class Size Matters, Advocates forChildren, New York Immigration Coalition, Dignity in Schools Campaign-NY, EduColor, NYC Opt Out and the Coalition for Community School Excellence.

Some of things that we want to highlight from our proposed budget:

  • $445 million: Class size, Infrastructure and Tech: We need real investments in infrastructure and technology like: reducing class size, universal broadband and access to technology
  • $559 Million: Supportive Schools: We need to immediately remove police from schools and invest in real dollars into Community Schools, Citywide Restorative Justice, Expanding Access to Social Emotional Supports and Librarians. 
  • $1 Billion: We need a real investment in Culturally Responsive Education 
  • $705 Million: Healthy and Safety Investments: Nurses, COVID Testing/Vaccine Delivery and early screening for dyslexia
  • $1,000,000,178: Specialized Support: Devoted resources for Data Disaggregation, Support students with Disabilities, Student in Foster Care, English Language Learners and immigrant families.  

"In the recently enacted state budget, we committed the billions required to fully fund CFE requirements over the next 3 years. It was a massive battle to win this money for students. Advocates, parents, teachers, students, and legislators fought for decades to finally push this over the finish line. We've come so far. We need City Hall to ensure that the funding is delivered equitably throughout NYC. Our students deserve the best,” said Senator Jabari Brisport.

“This Spring, we in Albany passed a State budget providing an unprecedented level of support for lower education by providing $3.1 billion in total School Aid, including close to $1.4 billion Foundation Aid increase. Now we need to make sure the City Budget steps up and allocates these funds to decrease class size, offer social emotional support to students, and make sure our schools provide the services necessary for multilingual students to thrive,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.  

State Senator Robert Jackson said, “Now that we have finally won the full funding of our public schools through the 3-year Foundation Aid phase-in, it’s time to make sure we spend it right. Students, parents, educators, and school community members know best how these funds should be invested—smaller class size, more community schools, citywide restorative justice, culturally responsive and sustaining education, support for our students with disabilities and our English Language Learners, and so much more.” Senator Jackson added,  “With all this funding and all these priorities, accountability will be crucial. I urge my colleagues in the City Council to be proactive about keeping the Mayor and Tweed on track. Rely on the ideas coming out of this strong network of education activists and listen to parents’ and parent leaders’ issues and concerns. Build them into your budget, so the DOE has a roadmap to follow to achieve equity and justice for all students.”


"It has taken decades to ensure that the state pays its debts to students across this city, but we finally won that battle this year — securing a commitment to fully fund foundation aid over the next three years. We did not spend every ounce of our energy fighting Governor Cuomo's politics of austerity only to lose the battle for budget justice at City Hall. This is a battle that has ramifications across our city and in the heart of my neighborhood, as the City proposes more than $400,000 in cuts to Long Island City high school — cuts that would pull the rug out from underneath our students who need the most support. In the words of Zone 126 executive director Anju Rupchandani, ‘They are robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ That ain't right and we won't stand for it,” said Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani.


"New York City public school students have just completed what is likely the most challenging year of their academic careers, with strains on their social-emotional development and physical well-being. The COVID crisis exposed and exacerbated existing inequities across school communities: the students with limited access to support struggled the most to adjust to the new academic landscape. It is vital that in the budget, the City closes the gaps in schools for technology, academic and social-emotional support, smaller class sizes, and specialized supportive services delivered in a culturally sensitive manner. I was proud to fight to pass a New York State Budget that provides full funding for Foundation Aid. The City budget must properly allocate federal and state funds to tackle economic and racial inequalities in the school system," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Social Services. 

“We must continue to move forward on our promise to create a more equitable future for the children of New York City. That means ensuring schools have the immediate funding and resources they need to prosper after the pandemic, as well as the longer-term investments in technology and infrastructure required for continued growth and development,” said Assemblymember Amanda Septimo. “I proudly stand with my fellow state legislators and education justice advocates today to demand a more just and accountable education budget for NYC schools”.

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters said, “Smaller classes have been the top priority of parents on the DOE’s own surveys, and will be needed next year more than ever before, given the requirement for social distancing and the close academic and motional support students will need after a year and a half of remote learning. The Mayor has long promised to lower class size once our schools receive full funding from the CFE lawsuit.  Now that our city has that funding, he has no excuses left to deny our kids the smaller classes they need and deserve.”

“The City this week will pass a budget that will affect New Yorkers during these uncertain times of a pandemic,” said Jolie Santiago, youth leader with Make the Road New York and Dignity in Schools Campaign - NY. “As a student in a NYC public high school I want to make sure the budget reflects our demands to fully fund restorative justice, provide funding to expand social and emotional support and to divest from school policing by rejecting any new school safety agent hires.” 

“Young people need the wraparound services provided by Community Schools this year more than ever. Community schools disrupt the oppressive patterns of systemic racism that perpetuate de-prioritization and underinvestment in economically distressed communities. They level the playing field so that all children in NYC can have a better chance to thrive and succeed. We are thrilled to see such a historic investment in community schools being made by NYC, and the Coalition for Community Schools Excellence is urging sustainability and sufficient funding of the initiative now and going forward to support the expansion,” said Terrence Winston from Coalition for Community Schools Excellence.

"Although NYC and NYS are rapidly reopening; many NYC students and their families are still experiencing lack of support and services resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic  We appreciate the NYS legislators voting to fully fund 100% NYC schools and the federal stimulus for the DOE but the real investments are not in their plan: CRE, Language Justice, Restorative Justice, Community Schools, Social Workers, Family and Community Engagement and Healing Centered Schools. Now is the time Leave no gap unaddressed,” said Amy Tsai, New Settlement's Parent Action Committee.

"With the DOE receiving $7 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding, the Mayor and City Council must deliver on a budget that invests in effective academic and social-emotional support, including specialized support for students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and students who are homeless, in foster care, or in juvenile detention who were among the students hardest hit by the educational disruption of the past 15 months,” said Randi Levine, Policy Director, Advocates for Children of New York.

“Budgets are a reflection of values. Right now the city is signaling that they value policing over the wellbeing of our students,” said Kate McDonough, Director Dignity in Schools Campaign NY. “We have the money, now is the time to fully fund restorative justice, expand social and emotional support and to create police free schools.”

“Budgets reflect priorities and values. This year’s budget must prioritize the needs of ELLs, students in temporary housing, and students with disabilities, who have long not been prioritized, but even more so in the past 18 months. What do they need? Smaller classes, culturally responsive leadership, pedagogy, and curriculum, tech equity and truly safe, healing centered school spaces. All students will benefit from being known by teachers, having their schools be humane, and their cultures and their friends' cultures included in their school experience. We shouldn’t have to ask for what is logically what the budget should be about. If you truly listen to Black, Latinx and immigrant families, families with students with disabilities, you will KNOW what we need to see in the budget,” said Dr. Kaliris Salas, steering committee member PRESS NYC and president of CEC4.   

“When it considers the DOE budget, we challenge the city to center children’s needs first. Children need the services provided by social workers, nurses, librarians. They need access to technology and well ventilated buildings; curriculum that sustains and motivates; approaches to teaching and learning that stimulate curiosity, collaboration, and exploration. Standardized testing, whether high-stakes or “dipstick,” does not center children’s needs in these ways, and yet the existing budget proposal would squander nearly half a billion dollars for standardized “assessments.” If educators are to truly and holistically determine their students’ needs, they must cultivate trusting relationships--cue smaller class sizes--and be free to draw on their professional expertise. Spending hundreds of millions to dole out Scantron sheets or to park students in front of computers where they follow the prompts of generic and, too often, shoddy software programs may help bureaucrats populate spreadsheets, but does little for the advancement of individual children,” said Kemala Karmen, parent, co-founder NYC Opt Out.

We all demand budget justice, as we fight for our city!