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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Voteless Parents in NYC Get To "Choose" Their CEC Representatives

I am sure that the citizens of New York City understand the inequity of New York's Department of Education. The folk who work at the DOE will do anything to protect their "own", which means those who are willing to separate themselves from following the law, rules against nepotism and theft, and all those things which easy can be called improper or at least unethical and in most cases illegal.

If you are a relative of a politician, an administrator, and/or a favored employee of the DOE or you are a "special friend" of anyone, you are in. Credentials matter.

That's why people who steal remain on the DOE payroll. They may be moved to a high position if a misconduct charge is substantiated against him/her, but they are rarely pushed aside.

I am NOT saying there are not good people who work for the DOE. There are, thankfully, many excellent people still on the books who would rather stop unethical behavior and put their jobs on the line than protect crimes against the health, safety, and welfare of the students.

In 2003 I was lucky enough to receive from Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo a document which spells it out very clearly. His letter to the Department of Justice in Washington DC urged the DOJ to allow Mike Bloomberg to take away the vote for the people who govern the school districts in NYC, and replace with a system whereby PTA Presidents, Treasurers and Secretaries would be the "selectors" who would vote for CEC members, or the powerless Community Education Councils around town. Bloomberg did not believe in fair representation, because this would mean that his control was not absolute. This letter started me thinking about what really was going on. In my opinion, this was the denial of the right to vote, which I take very seriously. I started working on my book.

Bloomberg/Cardozo also dismantled the NYC Board of Education and replaced it with the Panel For Educational Policy. The difference? PEP members are not voted into office, they are all appointed. Their so-called "vote" is tainted by what their boss says. Even if they do vote on something, they vote the way Joel/Cathie/Dennis/Carmen want, or the PEP should look for another position somewhere else. Simple. And unfair.

My youngest daughter was in PS 6 when Carmen Farina was Principal. I worked with her on the Annenberg Challenge for the Arts, and I set up the Arts Together Community Partnership (ATCP). I was on the Executive Board of PS 6, and I thought that everyone worked for the kids. I was new to public school, my other daughters attended private schools in grades 1-5.

I was wrong. The day that I asked where the money given by Annenberg was going, Carmen called me up (May 23, 2000) cursing, screaming, accusing me of theft, hiring/firing the arts people at PS 6, she yelled and screamed for 20 minutes. I almost had a heart attack. I had never heard anyone so abusive, and I had never heard most of the words she used, either. The next day the ATCP brochures and papers were thrown away, I heard, with the assistance of Assistant Corporation Counsel Jane Gordon, a parent at the school. I was told to never be involved in anything at PS 6 ever again.

The next year I ran for PTA President. I was already fighting back, investigating, and documenting everything. Carmen was removed from PS 6 in February.

In the article below, you will see the following:

"After the forums, three officers from each school’s Parent Association (PA) and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) – the President, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer  will cast ballots online for their preferred district candidates between April 19 and May 8. On May 12, the results will be posted online at"

Parents who are not "elected" by the system are without a vote.

I protest.

Betsy Combier

UFT President Mike Mulgrew, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Chancellor Carmen Farina

The 36 Community Education Councils include 32 District Councils and Four Citywide Councils, one each for High Schools, English Language Learners, Special Education and District 75
CCECs Offer Parents an Opportunity to Shape Educational Policies in their Districts and Make a Direct Impact in their School Communities
          NEW YORK –New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today encouraged parents across the city to make a direct impact on their child’s education by running for an Education Council seat. Parents interested in becoming members of a Community or Citywide Education Council (CCEC) can apply starting today through March 11, and should visit for more information.
“The Community and Citywide Education Councils help shape education policies and maintain strong relationships with families and the community,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Education Councils make important contributions to their communities and I want to encourage parents across the city to apply for a seat. We need strong CECs in every district and citywide.”
Elections take place every two years, and this year, the DOE is engaging in a citywide effort to reach parents and raise awareness of these leadership roles, reflecting the Chancellor’s ongoing commitment to collaborating with families in the imperative work of preparing our city’s students for college and the workforce.
“Education Councils provide parents a voice in public education and an opportunity to make grass-roots level impact in their school districts,” said Jesse Mojica, Executive Director of the Division of Family and Community Engagement. “All New York City public school parents should consider participating in this unique opportunity to become transformative leaders in their communities.” 
Parents serve two-year terms on 36 Councils throughout the City, which include 32 district councils and four citywide councils, one each for High Schools, English Language Learners, Special Education and District 75. The 32 district CECs are responsible for approving school zoning lines, holding hearings on the Capital Plan, and providing additional input on important policy issues. Citywide Councils evaluate and advise on school policy concerning their areas of focus.
After applications are submitted, candidates will engage parents and parent leaders at forums planned between March 18 and April 18.
After the forums, three officers from each school’s Parent Association (PA) and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) – the President, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer  will cast ballots online for their preferred district candidates between April 19 and May 8. On May 12, the results will be posted online at
Elected parents will receive trainings and leadership development sessions, ensuring they are able to use their positions effectively to make their voices heard, advocate for students, and form functional Councils.
Candidates for district CEC positions must be parents of a student enrolled in a district elementary or middle school, while candidates for the Citywide Council on High Schools must have a student in high school. Candidates for the other three Citywide Councils must have a student receiving the relevant services.
There is no experience or language requirement for candidates to run. Translation services are available at meetings for CEC members who may not speak English. Immigration status is never a consideration for an Education Council position. 
“Serving on an Education Council is rewarding because you have a direct influence on shaping education policies in your child’s school district,” said Arlenis Morel, a member of CEC 24. “We are our kids’ fiercest advocates and Education Councils allow us to ensure that their academic needs are met.”
As part of the broader Community and Citywide Education Council selection process, elected officials urged parents to apply.
“I encourage public school parents citywide to join Community and Citywide Education Councils, which present the best opportunity to be involved in the future of our schools, and directly connect parents to the resources in local communities,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Our children deserve the best, and no one understands that better than parents. Their voice is integral to our education system.”
“CECs are meant to ensure parental input in our school system,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “It is critical to have parents be an integral part of the decision-making process to shape and set education policies. As a mom of two young boys, I can attest firsthand to the impact that parental involvement has on our education system. Queens parents are some of the most active, vocal and effective in the city, and the difference is clear. The nexus of collaboration between families, educators and surrounding community is the key to the success of our schools.”
“Through Community Education Councils, parents can shape and support their neighborhood schools and influence decisions that affect the entire school system,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I strongly encourage parents to apply for seats on their district CECs. Their insight, experience, and energy are crucial to improving our schools.”
“We need a variety of voices, viewpoints, and opinions serving in our CECs,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “For those parents who have ever thought about getting more involved in the school system, now is the time to do so by running for a spot on the CEC.  Share your talents and your experiences with us, and help us improve our schools.”
“Parental participation in the educational process is an important component that needs to be emphasized as much as hitting the books, which is why the Community Education Council elections are very important,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.  “As a parent, I understand how important it was for my children to feel they had me as an advocate on their behalf. As the Bronx Borough President, I understand how important it is to be an advocate for not only my children, but all of the Bronx’s children. We urge parents to become a part of this process to make sure the voices at the table are diverse and representative of our communities and the needs of our children.”
“Parent leaders who are part of Community Education Councils advocate for those most deserving of your time and attention – our students,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Even with all the challenges, there is no greater honor than representing your community and making Brooklyn a better place to live, work, and raise a family.”
For more information, parents can visit, a key resource for understanding the structure and roles of the Education Councils. Information available on this website includes eligibility guidelines, key dates, and frequently asked questions.
The Councils
Community Education Councils (CEC)
The CECs work closely with the district superintendents, approve school zoning lines, hold hearings on the Capital Plan, and provide input on instructional and policy issues. There are 32 CECs. Each CEC has nine elected members who are parents of students currently in grades K-8 in district schools, and two Borough President appointees.
Citywide Council on High Schools (CCHS)
The CCHS advises on education policy and issues involving high school students. The CCHS has 10 elected members, two from each borough, who must be the parents of students currently attending a public high school.
Citywide Council on English Language Learners (CCELL)
The CCELL advises on education policy and issues involving students in bilingual or English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. The CCELL has nine elected members, who must be parents of students currently or recently classified by the DOE as English Language Learners.
Citywide Council on Special Education (CCSE)
The CCSE advises on education policy and services for students with disabilities. The CCSE has nine elected members, who must be parents of students receiving special education services provided by the DOE.
Citywide Council for District 75 (CCD75)
The CCD75 advises on education policy and services for students with disabilities who attend D75 programs. The CCD75 has nine elected members, who must be parents of students in a D75 program.
Important dates
February 11 - March 11 Parents interested in running for a seat on an Education Council submit an application online (computers will be available at schools and libraries).  
March 18 - April 18 – District and borough parent leaders, along with the DOE, host forums for parents to meet and ask questions of Education Council candidates.
April 19 - May 8 – Presidents, Treasurers, and Recording Secretaries of Parent Associations and Parent-Teacher Associations vote for the new Community and Citywide Education Council Members for the 2015-2017 term.

May 12 – Election results are published on
July 1 – Elected and appointed Community and Citywide Education Council Members for the 2015-2017 term take office.
There will be five borough-based information sessions for prospective candidates. Each will be held from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on their respective dates:
Brooklyn:            February 17
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Queens:               February 24
Queens Borough Hall
120-55 Queens Blvd, Room 200
Kew Gardens, NY 11424
Staten Island:      February 24
Staten Island Borough Hall
10 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301
Bronx:                 February 26
Bronx Borough Hall
851 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451
Manhattan:         March 2
Municipal Building
1 Centre Street, 19th floor South
New York, NY 10007
Contact:  Chancellor’s Press Office (212) 374-5141

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