2023 Community Education Council Election
Hello! My name is Alexios, I am Greek-Italian, and I’ve lived in New York since 2019. My daughter is a student at PS78Q, where I have been a class parent supporting the PTA. I am running for the District 30 Community Education Council because I am a strong believer in education as a public good.
You can find out more about what I care about and what CECs do below.
Public schooling should always be the best option for NYC students. Please consider voting for me and joining me in fighting for this cause.
What Community Education Councils do
Community Education Councils have several important responsibilities, including:
Review the district’s educational programs and capital needs and assess their effect on student achievement.
Hold at least one public meeting per month with the district's superintendent* and submit an annual evaluation of the school superintendent to the Chancellor**
Provide input to the Chancellor and the Panel for Educational Policy on district concerns.
Approve zoning lines as submitted by the superintendent.
* Superintendents supervise school principals. District 30's current superintendent is Philip Composto
** The Chancellor is the head of the NYC Department of Education. The current chancellor is David Banks
Whoever gets elected is an unpaid volunteer and doesn’t have a ton of direct power, but the CEC can serve as the voice of parents and grill DOE officials. If a CEC is clear about its goals and effective at mobilizing, it can affect the future of public schools in the district.
What I care about
Digital literacy: Kids go to school to learn facts and figures but also to learn how to learn. The capacity to find high quality information in an ocean of online fakes is an essential skill for the digitally native. This is truer than ever as schools scramble to figure out generative AI technologies. I am an internationally recognized expert on online misinformation, having advised the European Union and written a course plan on fact-checking for the United Nations – I am eager to offer what I’ve learned to my community.
Educational excellence: New York City’s annual education budget is $38 billion. With about 1.1M students in the system, that translates to approximately $35,000 per child. Even once you remove all the overhead, the expenditure per pupil in most schools is above $20,000. While that’s far from what the most expensive private schools charge, that’s still a fair amount of money! It can and should be spent to make public schools the best option for students across our city. The CEC should be probing DOE leaders to ensure money is spent effectively.
Equity: I am unreservedly in favor of equal access to education and a fair distribution of resources that recognizes the diversity of needs of schools across the district.
Transparency: It can be very hard to keep track of what’s going on in public schools when the primary form of communication is the occasional pdf written in bureaucratese. I believe the DOE should make its online presence more accessible and clear.
Safety: It is unfortunate to have to specify this, but school safety is non negotiable. Our schools must have zero tolerance for violence while avoiding theatrics that risk making our kids feel more worried without making them any safer. This also means that parents and schools should be active voices in favor of gun safety regulation.
What I will do if elected
My first promise is that I will ask hard questions, organize and make noise: I have worked in government, so I am well-versed in bureaucratic processes. I am a former journalist, so I am unafraid to ask difficult questions of powerful people. I will use every opportunity to remind school decision-makers they are accountable for their decisions. More specifically, I will:
Advocate for more funding for activities, after school and supplemental programs. My read of the District 30 parent survey responses is our schools are doing a good job with the basics. 94% of respondents said they were "Satisfied" or "Very Satisfied" with their kids' education. Still, the top request from parents were stronger enrichment programs; across our system we could do with more investment in a full curriculum as well as facilities and food. One of the wealthiest cities in the world should be investing much more in its schools.
Demand greater budget explainability. Besides "more" funding, we can ask for existing funding to be spent better. And to be able to do that, we'll need better breakdowns than the DOE currently offers. The data is already public -- it has to be, as it is public money -- but it is presented with so much bureaucratic language on top that it's very hard to determine the exact dollar amount that ends up reaching schools to actually spend on education and facilities.
Communicate with District 30 parents.
Write a bimonthly newsletter: I am running in part because I don’t feel like I have enough information about how decisions about my daughter’s schooling are made. If elected, I will communicate everything I learn in a plain English newsletter – that should be all you need to read if you want to catch up on the latest plans for your kids’ school.
Listen to all parents: I will keep a dedicated email account and reply to any parent from the district who writes to me. I will also plan to attend (if welcome) at least one PTA meeting for every District 30 school to make sure I can represent the needs of every kid in the district – from Astoria to Woodside and from East Elmhurst to Long Island City.
How to vote
If you are a parent/guardian of a NYC public student, you will be able to log in to your NYCSA account (the same one you use to select schools for your kid to apply to) and vote starting on April 21.
The CEC's website is here
Chalkbeat sends out a weekly newsletter about NYC schools
I made a Twitter list with NYC school activists, institutions and reporters here
Data on the district's educational achievements, demographic make-up, expenditures, and parent satisfaction is available here and here
I also send an occasional newsletter: register here