March 5th is the deadline for parents who want to run for a seat on their local Community Education Council (CEC). Council members advise the Mayor, Chancellor, and local district superintendents about matters relating to the kindergarten – 12th grade schools.
Our public schools are in a long running, seemingly permanent crisis. Based on last spring’s high stakes testing exercise, and
notwithstanding it being a flawed measuring stick, barely one in three of the City’s non-white students meet acceptable performance levels in math and language skills. These students are the majority of the enrolled students, they represent the future of New York City.
Our children desperately need more parent involvement – if not parent control – of the system. The so-called experts have shown themselves to be unwilling or unable to create an action agenda that will eliminate the achievement gap and improve the life chances of these.students. This increases the need for parents to not only join and
serve on these Councils, but to grab the steering wheel and take a dominant role in the education of our children. We shouldn’t sit back and let the incompetent “experts” destroy another generation of school
children; and it’s unlikely that parents could make the system worse than it currently is. So wake up today parents.
Parents must submit an on line self-nomination by this Sunday, March
5th. Go to http://www.nycparentleaders.
Then, between March 20th and April 21st, a candidate forum will be be organized by the President’s Council (PC) of each local school district. The Presidents Councils consist of the Parents or Parent/Teacher Association presidents of each district school. There are 32 local district councils, and 4 city-wide councils that are holding elections. The citywide councils serve high school students and English language learners.
The election takes place from April 23rd and May 9th. Results are.announced on may 15th, and winners start their 2 year terms on July 1st. Once a new set of Council members are elected, they need to
address the lack of effective parent involvement in the system, as well as the other flaws in the current parent participation model.
Problem one is the highly restricted electorate permitted to vote in the CEC elections. Under the old Community School Board system, every parent of a public school student could vote in the selection of board members. But under the “improved, reformed” system only three officers from each PA/PTA can vote. In a school with 300 students, this would
represent 1% of the parents. This suggests parent exclusion, not parent involvement.
Problem two is the lack of power delegated to the councils. Other than the approval of school district lines, these councils have only advisory roles in the policy issues that drive the system. They are poorly trained, poorly resourced, with the predictable result. They are forced to rubber stamp the initiatives put in front of them by the
Department of Education bureaucracy.
It will take a group of militant, uncompromising parent leaders to force the changes needed to make the schools serve our children.
Hopefully a new crop of CEC members can participate in that process.
Our children aren’t failing – the system has marked them for failure.