The City Searches for Parental Candidates for the Community Education Councils and Tesa Wilson, President of CEC 14, Gives Some Parting Advice
If you’ve been riding public transportation you may have noticed the colorful “Raise Your Hand” ads that the Department of Education is running on subways and buses in an effort to increase the number of parents running for CEC positions. They are spreading the word on a broad scale in order to meet their goal of recruiting high quality parental candidates and increase the diversity of their members to fill positions that often remain vacant.
What is the CEC and what does it do?
Community and Citywide Education Councils are educational policy advisory bodies that review educational programs for kindergarten through eighth-grade students in a district. Generally, CECs are charged with promoting student achievement, advising and commenting on educational policies, and providing input to the Chancellor and the Panel for Educational Policy on matters of concern to the district. Two of their top duties are concerned with the approval of zoning lines and the review of the district’s educational programs toward assessing their effect on student achievement. The more specific Citywide Education Councils are education policy advisory bodies that represent the interests of high school students (Citywide Council on High Schools), English language learners (Citywide Council on English Language Learners), and students with disabilities (Citywide Council on Special Education and the Citywide Council for District 75).
What are the requirements?
Candidates for district CEC positions must have a child enrolled in a district elementary or middle school, while candidates for the Citywide Council on High Schools must have a child in high school. Parents running for positions in the other three citywide councils must have a child receiving those relevant services. There is no experience or language requirement for interested parents. Immigration status also does not impact eligibility.
What is the commitment?
Council members are expected to attend monthly meetings with the superintendent and the public. In addition, members are strongly encouraged to participate in school visits and public forums where they can become better informed about issues facing students in the New York City public schools. Council members serve two-year terms. CEC members selected during the 2015 Selection Process will serve until June 30, 2017. Members of Citywide Councils will serve until June 30, 2017, or as long as they have a qualifying child.
How do I apply? & What is the selection process?
You can apply online beginning February 11, 2015 at http://nycparentleaders.org/NYCDOE/en-ApplicationForm . The application process ends at 11:59 pm on March 11, 2015. If you do not have access to a computer, please call 311 for information on how to access computers at local district offices and schools, or at public libraries. Parent members will be selected by a vote held from April 19 to May 8, 2015. The PA/PTA President, Secretary, and Treasurer (or their respective designees) for every school in the community school district will be eligible to cast votes.
If you are interested in running for an Education Council, you should speak with current council members and attend council meetings to familiarize yourself with what your council does. For your convenience here are some words of advice from Tesa Wilson, a ten year veteran of the CEC and the President of CEC 14. She recently announced she was stepping down and her final day would be February 23, 2015. She generously agreed to answer a few questions:
How did you get your start in the CEC?
Tesa Wilson: I started volunteering and a Parent Coordinator asked me to run/apply.
What is the best trait to have if you want to be a member of the CEC?
Tesa Wilson: The ability to cooperate and work with a group to serve the best good. Also being a politician helps – it’s very difficult job to do if you are an introvert. You have to interact with politicians too.
What was one of the things that surprised you the most when you first started with the CEC?
Tesa Wilson: I thought I was prepared for the bureaucracy – but little did I know the extent of it and how I’d have to negotiate it. I found it illogical that some decisions weren’t about the children.
What is one of your favorite highlights of your work with the CEC?
Tesa Wilson: Seeing schools do some great turnarounds. PS 126 for instance the conditions there were bad when I started and now they are wonderful there and they even teach a course in Japanese.
What would you like to see happen with the CEC in future?
Tesa Wilson: I wish the CEC had more input in the District than it does. They would input more common sense.
Tesa Wilson mentions that her time in the CEC was rewarding on so many levels and is grateful to have served her community in this capacity. She is looking forward to continue to work with parents and for the children of the city.