Adams appoints 9 members to PEP 1

Former president of CEC 26 Alan Ong, center, will now sit on the Panel for Educational Policy as a mayoral appointee.

A new cohort of mayoral appointees to the Panel for Educational Policy has been named by Mayor Adams and several of the new members have ties to Queens.

Alan Ong, former CEC 26 president, was named to the panel, which is part of the governance structure responsible for the city’s public schools.

“It is my next level of advocacy for the community, for the parents, for the kids,” Ong told the Chronicle.

“I have been advocating not just for the civic community but for education for our kids, parents and schools for quite a few years,” he said.

Ong, who is from Fresh Meadows, has a child in high school and another who has graduated. He is a member of Community Board 8, president of the Union Turnpike Merchants Association, vice president of Friends of Fresh Meadows Library, a member of the board of directors of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association and a member of the 107th Precinct Community Council and Mid-Queens Community Council.

Ong said he hopes the voices and parental concerns will “be a little bit louder” on the PEP and says education equality for all kids and challenging those that need to be challenged are priorities for him.

He said that he will help amplify issues important to CEC 26, such as bringing back the gifted and talented program, reforming high school admissions and bringing more specialized high schools to Queens.

The PEP, which replaced the former Board of Education in 2002, is responsible for approving standards, policies and objectives related to educational achievement and instruction, as well as the Chancellor’s Regulations, changes in school utilization, budgetary items and department contracts.

The mayor is responsible for nine appointments on the PEP. Each borough president appoints one member and CEC presidents elect another. The chancellor servers as a non-voting member as well.

“Parent and community engagement is an essential component of my vision for education in New York City, and that is why I’m excited to begin what I know will be an effective and fruitful partnership with the panel members announced today,” said Mayor Adams in a prepared statement.

“I’ve said it over and over again: If we do not educate, we incarcerate, and so this panel will be vital in helping to ensure our young people have every tool at their disposal to succeed in life.”

Schools Chancellor David Banks has been talking about PEP reform since he started in the position, frequently highlighting the fact that PEP meetings often go past midnight and are not convenient for many parents.

Banks spoke of that in Tuesday night’s CEC 26 town hall, which Ong said “brought a smile” to his face because his first PEP meeting was over five hours.

Banks has also spoken of improving transparency and parent engagement, which Ong looks forward to.

“The best decisions are made when everyone is at the table, and this panel represents invaluable experience that will be critical as we reimagine our schools,” Banks said in the statement.

“I look forward to partnering with every new PEP member in the work of improving the educational outcomes of our youngest New Yorkers.”

Jean Hahn, a Rego Park parent who leads Queens Parents United, said Adams’ picks to the PEP are “interesting.”

“I appreciate not just the diversity of where the members come from but the diversity of having a charter supporter,” she said, adding that, although she is not necessarily a charter advocate, having representatives supporting school choice is positive.

She would like to see the new panel less divisive than in the past, which she said has been “disconcerting” to parents.

Her concerns lie more with recent borough president appointees to the panel, she said, including some who advocated to keep schools closed throughout the pandemic and called other parents racist.

The Queens borough president appointee, Deb Dillingham, remains on the PEP and Ong said he has a lot to learn and hopes to learn the ropes from her.

Other new mayoral appointees to the PEP include Angela Green, former principal at MS 8 in Jamaica, and Gladys Ward, a public school parent and member of Community Education Council 24.