Elections of community and citywide education council members face big changes if the Panel on Education Policy votes on June 26 to approve amendments to several chancellor's regulations. The most dramatic change is in Chancellor's Regulation D-140, which does away with the parent advisory vote. That is the straw poll that is supposed to inform the actual electors, the president, secretary and treasurer of each school's Parents Association. A recent report of a special task force to remedy the problems with CEC elections recommended that change. As administered, the report concluded, the parent advisory vote was not advisory at all: results were not made public and even if the electors were informed of parent choices, there was no way to know if they were honored. In a 35-page report, there were two other important recommendations linked to removal of the advisory vote: Take the election out of the hands of the Department of Education and seek state legislation to allow every parent with a child in the system to vote directly for CEC members.
By all accounts, the disastrous 2011 election was characterized by administrative errors, lack of information, very low voter turnout and overall confusion -- ultimately leading to a do-over. Fed up, CEC members and president's councils called for action. The public advocate and borough presidents of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens responded by setting up a task force which held meetings all over the city seeking input from CEC members and parents.
Parent leaders who were engaged in the process are discouraged by the DOE's response. "It's nibbling along the edges of the elections," said Noah Gotbaum, CEC 3 member. He echoed what I heard from others, that the DOE is not sincere in its motives to engage parents and that real change can only come from parent and advocate pressure to change the law itself.
But here's the rub, considering the constricted powers of the CECs and the perception that they don't really count: few parents are now engaged with them. Will removing the parent advisory vote in the absence of any other fundamental reform take away whatever parent voice is left? Will the legislature pay attention to the CECs or see them as powerless withering bodies?
You can read all the DOE's proposed changes to the nomination and election procedures in Chancellor's Regulations D-140 elections to CECs; D150, elections to citywide special education council and the District 75 special education council; D-160, elections to high school councils; and D-170 elections to the Citywide Council of English Language Learners.
Also up for a vote is a brand new regulation Chancellor's Regulation D-125, a proposed ethics code for all voting members of and nominees to the CEC's, Citywide Councils on Special Education, High Schools, English Language Learners, and District 75.
Chancellor's Regulation D-120 sets forth financial disclosure requirements for certain DOE employees, Panel for Education Policy members, community education council ("CEC") members, citywide council members, and CEC and citywide council nominees. The regulation is being amended to update who must file financial disclosure, the type of disclosure required, and the proper procedures for filing. The amendments clarify existing law and DOE practices.