In 2005, the Bloomberg Administration began the selection of parents to serve on the newly instituted Community Education Councils (CECs) in the 32 New York City community school districts. CECs are charged with “promoting student achievement, advising and commenting on educational policies, and providing input to the Chancellor and the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) on matters that concern the school district (which includes support for new charter schools).”
As the CEC application went out across the five boroughs and staff from the Department of Education actively recruited parents, charter school parents were clearly not included in the outreach and recruitment, and, in most cases, are not encouraged to apply. According to the Legislative Toolkit provided by the New York City Charter School Center, Charter School parents are not allowed to join CECs because under NYS Education Law 2590-e, CECs for parents of schools in Community School Districts. A charter school is considered its own school district.
The deliberate exclusion of Charter School parents on CECs must change. This is particularly disconcerting when many CECs struggle to obtain and/or maintain quorums; and, many are openly hostile to all charter schools, and charter school parents. According to the DOE website on the CEC, each CEC oversees a Community School
District that includes public elementary, intermediate, and junior high schools. Each CEC has 11 voting members including nine parents of students in public elementary, intermediate and/or junior high schools in the district. There are two additional voting members who are appointed by the borough presidents or the Public Advocate and must be residents of or own or operate a business in the district These CECs serve as a link between the community, department of education and government and serve as a potential voice in advocating for the needs of the schools in their district.
Adversely, charter school parents should actively challenge this blatant omission. The strategies some parents have employed to be included on a CEC are to submit an application for an appointed position by the borough presidents and/or encourage parents with children in both district and charter schools to apply for the CEC. Public charter schools are “public schools” in NYS and the regulation that allows for the discrimination of Charter School parents to have an opportunity to serve on CECs need to be addressed and changed.
For more information on Community Education Councils (CECs) and the list of CEC members from your community school district, check out http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/CEC/.