2004-03-12 / Front Page

DOE Extends Deadline For Education Council Candidates

By Howard Schwach
DOE Extends Deadline For Education Council Candidates By Howard Schwach

On Wednesday this week, the Department of Education (DOE) announced an extension of the filing deadline for those parents interested in becoming members of the new Community Education Councils mandated by the new School Governance Law, amid reports that few people have filed for the new positions. The deadline has been extended to March 22 from March 16.

Because of that lack of candidates, the Department of Education (DOE) is reportedly launching an all-out campaign to bring in people who are willing to serve on the eleven-member bodies. The deadline extension is obviously part of that campaign.

Nine of those eleven members must be parents, and it is that group that is proving to be the hardest to entice to apply.

Email from the DOE’s Office of Parent and Community engagement reportedly said that a total of only 102 applications had been processed citywide by last week. There are 32 districts and nine seats in each district, for a total of 288 seats.

In at least two regions, there are reportedly no candidates for the positions who have filed applications.

The Wave contacted the DOE’s press office on Wednesday to ascertain the number of candidates who have filed in Region Five, which includes Rockaway schools. As of press time, Margie Feinberg, a spokesperson for the DOE, said that the lists have not yet been finalized, but that they should be shortly.

Education experts say that there are a number of reasons for the dearth of applications.

"The application is daunting," said one local parent activist who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. "There are ten pages and you have to reveal lots of personal financial information that is nobody’s business, certainly not the city’s"

The activist added that she and others feared that the private information would be shared by the city with the selectors, a group comprised of the three top Parent Association officials in each school.

"Those are local people," the activist said. "There is no way I am going to share my financial history with my neighbors."

The second reason, the activist pointed out, is that Parent Association officers have to resign their positions in order to run for the regional council.

"Many of those activists who would normally jump at a chance to work at a regional level just don’t want to give up their positions at their local schools," the source said. "They look at what the councils will be empowered to do, and they believe that they can do more good, have more impact, in their own school."

"We are urging parents who are really interested in their child’s education to apply for the new education councils," a source at the Office of Parent and Community Relations told reporters. "The department is doing everything it can to communicate with parents and to do outreach."

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