City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina and elected officials visited PS 191, the Richard Arkwright School in Glendale, on Wednesday to launch a campaign encouraging parents with children in city public schools to run for a spot on either a community or citywide education council.
“We’re here to celebrate parents and parents who know how to get involved in their children’s schools,” Farina said.
“Parents are the customers,” said PS 191 principal Victoria Catalano.
The press conference was also attended by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale), Public Advocate Letitia James, Make the Road NY Parent Organizer Placida Rodriguez and parents and CEC members.
The Department of Education will be running advertisements in multiple languages on subways and buses in an effort to increase the number of parents running for CEC positions. The goal is to raise the quality of the CECs, increase the diversity of their members and fill positions that often remain vacant.
“We do have vacancies despite tremendous outreach,” said Ricky Chan, first vice president of District 26’s CEC.
Chan thinks part of the reason many parents don’t run for CEC is that they are intimidated because of their lack of English language skills.
Fariña stressed that parents whose first language is not English are not only welcome, but strongly encouraged to run for CEC positions and that translation help is available at CEC meetings.
CEC’s are educational policy advisory bodies that review educational programs for kindergarten through eighth-grade students in a district.
Citywide councils perform similar functions for programs for special education, high schools and English language learners.
Elections for both councils take place every two years.
“I’ve learned the critical importance of parent involvement” through having a son who had speech issues, said Jesse Mojica, executive director of the DOE’s Division of Family and Community Engagement. “We don’t just want functional councils. We want high-functioning councils.”
While all parents are eligible to run for CEC, only a select few are eligible to vote.
For example, for general education community education councils, only the parent association president, secretary and treasurer of each school in the district will be eligible to cast votes.
Parents who wish to run for a CEC can apply now through March 11. Elections are April 19 and May 8.
Applications and information are available at NYCParentLeaders.org.
Farina noted that CEC members provide a voice for many parents who are working two jobs or have other reasons why they can’t participate in parent association or CEC meetings.
“I wanted to have a voice advocating not only for my own children, but also for the parents across our district,” said Arlenis Morel, a member of CEC 24.
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