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City Struggles to Find Parents to Fill Ed Council Seats

Sunday, April 17, 2011

education, classroom, school, school supplies, class, teachers, students (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The city is having trouble finding enough parents to run for seats on local Community Education Councils. 

As of Friday, only 341 applied for a total of 325 seats, according to the Department of Education.

The councils consist of nine elected members and two appointed by the borough presidents, plus a non-voting student. District 16 in Brooklyn, which includes Bedford Stuyvesant, is one council that's had a notoriously difficult time attracting members.

Pegye Johnson joined last year but there are still just five seats — not enough for a quorum. She said she's frustrated because her council didn't get enough members to hold regular meetings.

"We could have held them at different schools, given awards to children who have achieved you know, a little standing of grade improvement," she said. "We could have done a lot."

Johnson isn't daunted, though. She's been trying to spread the word in Brooklyn and hopes to attract PTA leaders now that there's no longer a conflict of interest (for a while PTA presidents weren't allowed to serve on CEC's). She suggests many parents are daunted by the time commitment.

Despite local efforts by Johnson and others, a Department of Education spokeswoman, Deidrea Miller, said it still doesn't have enough applicants in District 16 for all nine elected seats.

Miller said District 3 on Manhattan's West Side has the fewest number of applicants, while District 1 in Lower Manhattan and the citywide council for high schools has the most. She declined to give numbers until the application period is over.

The deadline to run has been extended until April 22.

The Community Education Councils were created in 2002 after the state abolished the old community school boards and put the mayor in charge of the schools. They have only advisory powers, which is one reason why some believe parents are less interested in running.

Incoming Chancellor Dennis Walcott has said he hopes to increase parental involvement throughout the city.

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Comments [8]

Rex from Manhattan from Manhattan

Can I suggest you interview parents about this. Many new parents don't even know what "CEC" means. They don't often know that there used to be school boards. And they don't know that mayoral control took away most of its power.

Talk also to Diane Ravitch. The Department of Education will, no doubt, attempt to spin this as "apathy" and "evidence that our reforms are working well" when it seems to me to be symptomatic of the anti-democratic, parents don't matter, "corporate" model of autocracy that is supposed to be more "efficient".

Apr. 19 2011 03:02 PM
Michael M.

How was the 425 calculated?

Parents who have to RUN only:
32 CECs * 9 = 288
CCHS = 10
3 other city-wides * 9 = 27
Looks like.... 325. Not 425! Sheesh.

Not counting appointed seats.

DOE should be more specific as to which Districts still need to rustle up more parents by Friday.

As a 2-term CECD2 member myself (who has not yet decided whether to run for a 3rd), the power to approve or reject DOE-proposed rezoning is huge. After that, it's what we make of it.

Apr. 19 2011 07:42 AM
Anni from Manhattan

It's true that CEC's are BloomKleinian window dressing to simulate 'parent input,' but they DO have small bits of power that we should not forfeit. Rezoning is a looming, sometimes contentious, issue in many areas, but it cannot happen without the approval of the relevant CECs. Please run, people!

Apr. 18 2011 02:57 PM
Deedee from Manhattan

This should come as no surprise. With the dissolution of the community school districts in 2002, all schools are little islands. There is no "community" left, no central place for parents in a particular area to go for information or to resolve a problem. There's no way people in a given community can come together to look at the status of education in their district and do something about it because the only way anything happens is if it's decreed from on high.

Apr. 18 2011 01:17 PM
George L

In the past, running for a Community Education Council seat was a shoe-in, and a foot in the door of city politics, and, by extension, a career. With the transparency allowed by digital records, it is not so easy to grab at this cash windfall anymore, and, hence, the disinterest in the Council has risen, and the related disinterest in the education of the young among the population becomes apparent.

Apr. 18 2011 12:30 PM
Carmen M Colon from Brooklyn, NY

It will never happen. AS one of the first CDEC Presidents, after having been touted as renegade, along with my colleagues across the city, simply for questing policy and PEP decisions, parents in this city have come to realize the fix was in. The BOE will simply have to continue their agregious policies without parental buy-in. I say wait until the next Mayor comes in, cleans house and then volunteer. Now, it's a waste of parents time.

Apr. 18 2011 08:19 AM

This is not surprising that the DOE can't find parents to "run" for these positions. I think that most parents can see that these comities are nothing more then another attempt by the mayor to give the illusion that the he has anything more then contempt for parents, teachers, or students, and that creation of comities like this is simply an attempt to co-opt the good that PTAs do and claim it as one more victory for himself and the sham reform movement he has appointed himself CEO of.

Apr. 18 2011 12:23 AM
A. Joseph

I am teacher in District 16 and a parent of a child who attends HS in District 2. I applied and have gotten no response. This article is misleading

Apr. 17 2011 10:19 AM

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