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Community Education Councils Start 'Revolution' Against Trump Pick DeVos

By Danielle Tcholakian | January 13, 2017 6:04pm | Updated on January 15, 2017 7:50pm
 At least four of the city's Community Education Council are speaking out against Trump's nominee for education secretary.
At least four of the city's Community Education Council are speaking out against Trump's nominee for education secretary.
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UPPER EAST SIDE — The Community Education Council for Manhattan's largest school district joined three other CECs Thursday night to issue a resolution against President-Elect Donald Trump's pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Every school district in the city has a CEC — a group of parents with children who attend schools in the district — that allows parents to communicate directly with the Department of Education about public school issues.

The District 2 CEC's resolution echoed those of Districts 1, which encompasses the Lower East Side, District 3, on the Upper West Side, and District 30 in Queens, slamming DeVos as "a candidate lacking any credentials as an educator or experience in the administration and management of public schools and demonstrating a pre-disposition toward — and long history of support for — charter schools and school voucher programs, which by their very nature eviscerate free and appropriate public education for specific economic, social and racial groups."

CEC 2 — representing schools from Battery Park City to 59th Street on the west side and 96th Street on the east side, passed their resolution against DeVos unanimously, with almost no discussion.

"We did it, guys. We’re fighting the revolution," said CEC 2's president, Robin Broshi, after the vote. "It starts here."

DeVos, a Michigan-based billionaire and lobbyist for charter schools, has drawn criticism nationwide for her potential financial conflicts, including reported ties to companies that engage in controversial student loan refinancing.

The CECs highlighted DeVos' role in Detroit charter schools, which the groups condemned as "an abject failure which hurt students" and called on Congress to "block any nominee for United States Secretary of Education who lacks the requisite qualifications and experience."

The greater Education Council Consortium (ECC), made up of members of the city's CECs, also approved a resolution on Jan. 7, taking a stand against DeVos.

CEC2 Vice President Shino Tanikawa said the resolutions against DeVos were started by CEC3.

It was also the first to write a letter of support for the Buffalo school board that is attempting to oust Trump supporter Carl Paladino, after Paladino made racist comments about the Obamas, Tanikawa said.

CEC2 joined their support of the ouster of Paladino, voting unanimously Thursday night to send a letter of their own. CEC30 in Queens is also working on a similar letter, Tanikawa said.

Education expert David Bloomfield, a professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, said CECs "are without great power, but with a strong bully pulpit."

"Here, the CECs are trying to change educational policy in the state and federal levels that have an important impact on New York City, so of course they should be vocal, because parents and children in New York City will be affected by a DeVos approval to be Secretary of Education," he said.

And while Bloomfield himself disagrees with the attempt to oust Paladino from the Buffalo school board — he penned an op-ed in the Albany Times-Union arguing for Paladino's right to free speech — he commended the CECs who opted to "voice their outrage over Paladino's hideous comments."

"It's an important statement on both these issues," Bloomfield said. "It's meaningful at two levels. One, for them to opine as elected parent representatives from New York City on these public issues. The second one, as more a general matter — they should be seeking out more on issues of education policy — city, state and federal."