The 2023 Education Council election cycle is currently open. There are 32 Community Education Councils (CECs) representing each district and parents of students in Pre-K through 8th grade. Additionally, there are four Citywide Councils that include English Language Learners (CCELL), Special Education (CCSE), High Schools (CCHS), and District 75 (CCD75).
“One of the core pillars of this administration is engaging families to be our true partners, and it is vital that the family voice we hear is as diverse as the students in our buildings. This is why Community and Citywide Education Councils are so important; it’s about meeting students and their families where they are and providing them with the high-quality care that they deserve,” said Kenita Lloyd, Deputy Chancellor of Family and Community Engagement & External Affairs.
Parents who wish to stand and be elected to a Community Education Council have until February 13 to register. Voting will take place between April 21st and May 9th. Each of New York City’s 32 Districts will be represented by ten parents who will be elected as board members. The CEC will also be made up of other representatives who are the two borough president appointees, a non-voting student member, and a District 75 representative. For a parent to stand as a candidate, they should have a child in grades pre-K to 8. The position of a board member is a volunteer position with no remuneration. Each term is two years long.
Once elected, the parents on the CEC will meet monthly with their fellow board members to discuss matters and find solutions to problems that affect the children in New York City’s public schools. The first CEC and Citywide council meetings will be held in July and will typically be the union of different people from varying communities, cultures, and professions.
Each board member will provide their own ideas, suggestions, and services. The education councils are a platform for parents to have their voices heard. If there are matters a parent disagrees with, the platform is provided to express that. It is also a platform where great ideas are shared with the knowledge that they will likely reach the Department of Education and be implemented. The CECs and the Department of Education share a vital line of communication.
Ramata Sackho, a CEC 3 member said, “Joining a CEC will help parents learn a lot of things. You will learn about how the Department of Education works. There’s a lot that the Department of Education does that can help your children as well. Parents just don’t know about all these things. But you will learn about them on the CEC. Being a parent is not only dropping off your kids and picking them up, you have to be involved too.”
“Running for CEC is even more important now than ever. As our city and our schools finally leave the pandemic behind, we need to make sure that parents have a seat at the educational table to discuss their children’s future. Good schools are essential for children’s current happiness and future success. NYC is the largest school system in the country and we need to make sure every child in our city has a path to achieving their potential. Being on the CEC is a unique and important opportunity to have a say in the big decisions that impact thousands of children in districts across the city,” shared Maud Maron, formerly the president of District 2’s CEC.
The Citywide councils are open to High School, Special Education, English Language Learners, and District 75 parents. The Citywide Council on High Schools is the largest education council serving an estimated 350,000 students. The Citywide council on Special Education serves about 218,000, Citywide Council on District 75 serves about 26,000, and the Citywide Council on English Language Learners serves 147,000 students who do not speak English as their first language. Parents of English Language Learners need extra support navigating the school system.
Assietou Sow is a former CEC member who now serves on the Citywide Council for English Language Learners. Sow said, “The United States of America is a melting pot. So, when you come to this country, you need to know the system. If you want to help your children to succeed, you need to know the school system, the application process. You need to be in contact with your child’s principal, with everything on how it works. If you are not involved, you cannot understand anything. Being in the system, being part of it, helps make you understand better how you can help your children. And help you understand how you can benefit from all the opportunities the government puts on the table for you.”
Karen Wang, who is the President of the Citywide Council on High Schools, said, “As education council members, we are able to advocate for families who would otherwise be ignored by the DOE or have a hard time navigating its bureaucracy. It’s also extremely important for the DOE to hear from a diversity of parent voices. Parents need to take a seat at the table to ensure that their children and their community are represented and to hold the system accountable for ensuring that their children graduate with the skills they need to succeed in life.”
Being an education council board member is not an easy task. It requires passion, commitment, and time. While it may be a taxing commitment that needs a person’s attention and dedication, it is a platform for the voice of parents to be heard. If requests and demands are heard, suggestions and solutions are made, making life easier for students and their families. CECs allow the many voices of different families to be heard. The meetings being held virtually have provided an opportunity for more parents to join their education council.
Albert Suhu, the President of CEC 26 in Queens, seized the opportunity to become more involved, advocate for students, and for his community. Suhu advocated that the history of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) people be taught in public schools.
“Before my oldest child started elementary school, I had been traveling back and forth to work in Washington, D.C. Because I spent my weekdays away from NYC, I never gave any thought to volunteering for PTAs or other parent volunteering activities. However, everything changed with the advent of COVID-19 as PTA, SLT, CEC, and other public meetings were permitted to be held virtually. With the sharp increase in Anti-Asian Hate incidents, I decided to run for a seat on a CEC to do something to stem the tide of hatred. After my election to the CEC, I picked up on a petition led by AAPI parent leaders throughout the city to immediately start work on a resolution to mandate the history of the AAPI community to be included in the DOE curriculum. By collaborating with other CECs and the CCHS over many months, the Chancellor eventually agreed to implement the requested changes, providing a proud victory to the AAPI community in May 2022.”
Parents are being encouraged to stand as potential CEC board members, which would give them the opportunity to learn more about the New York City education system, those people who operate within it, and ways to improve it. It would also be a way for parents to be indirectly involved in their children’s education.
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