I ran into Whitney on Saturday, May 6th, while she was in Queensbridge Houses passing out fliers and talking to folks about the upcoming election for the community education council, in which she is up for re-election.
A lot of folks, such as myself, don't know much about the community education council, and so Whitney was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Q: What is the importance of the community education council?
A: The Community Education Council is the city's version of a school board. The members are supposed to represent the voices of parents and guardians of children in the public schools. Members elevate the concerns of those in their districts to the Superintendent and to the Department of Education. Also, the CEC President has the opportunity to meet with the Chancellor and provide the concerns of the district to them and work to get them addressed.
Q: Why are you running?
A: I'm running for re-election because during my 2 years on the council, I've learned that we need people at the table that will look out for our entire district. When we have a council that works together for the betterment of our district we can get things done. For example, while serving as President of the council this last year, I spoke out in numerous meetings to encourage my fellow council members to reach out to their liaison schools to get the schools to place requests for capital projects on the Participatory Budgeting website. That lead to many school communities (school staff, parents and CEC members as liaisons) placing capital project requests to be voted on during this round of participatory budgeting, which resulted in SO MANY capital projects to improve our schools being placed on the ballots for the community to vote on. Many of these projects were the winning proposals for many CM districts. Our District 30 schools are getting new technology, new bathrooms, electrical upgrades, and more. Another instance is when new G&T classes were proposed for our district, I lead the effort by writing a letter that all of my fellow councilmembers signed to ensure that if these new programs were going to be brought to our most marginalized communities, they should have enrollment priorities that ensure that the children FROM these communities would be included.
Q: What is your hope/vision for the community education council?
A: My hope is that we can continue to build on what has been started. District 30 is home to so many people from many different walks of life. We can't ignore those that are not always available to come to every meeting. We need to continue to improve outreach and ensure more parents and guardians are included. We also need to create an environment where we can respectfully have difficult conversations that allow us to be the advocates that our community needs us to be.
Parents and guardians of children in district 30 schools have until 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, May 9th, to vote. You can use the link below to vote: www.schoolsaccount.nyc
Thank you for your time, Whitney, and thank you for doing this necessary work to ensure our children have the best educational experience they can possibly have.
We are with you!
-Lashawn "Suga Ray" Marston
Whitney Toussaint is a Black woman and mother living in NYC who cares about her community and the issues they experience.
Visit her website to read more about her work and learn how you can support her: www.whitneytoussaintforcec30.net