Hasani Council was born and raised in the South Ward of the City of Newark. Hasani attended George Washington Carver Elementary School and graduated from University High School in 2014. From a young age, Hasani has been active as a public servant and public education advocate fighting for the residents of the City of Newark.
As a student at University High School, Hasani was very active against an unyielding school administration. His strong belief in justice and his need to bring awareness to injustice drives his advocacy for equity and fairness. After completing his years at University High School, Hasani began his studies at Montclair State University, where he was elected Vice President of his Hall Council and then was elected as the Executive Vice President of the Residence Hall Association. Hasani also served as a member of the Student Government Association in the capacity of a legislator.
In 2016, Hasani was elected to the Montclair State University Board of Trustees where he served two years as a Student Trustee working closely with the president of the university. He was also inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success, as well as, the Red Hawk Pride Society. Hasani received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 2018 followed by his Master of Arts degree in Law and Governance in 2019.
Hasani currently serves as a Legislative Aide to South Ward Council Member John Sharpe James and as Democratic District Leader in the 36th District of the South Ward. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated where he served as chapter president for his undergraduate chapter and on the fraternity’s regional political and civic engagement committee. Hasani is currently a Jr. Deacon at St. John Baptist Church and is very active in the church community.
Hasani believes every student deserves great teachers and that great teachers deserve to get the opportunity to positively shape and change their students’ lives. To this end, he will work tirelessly to ensure more educational freedoms for all.
2020 Candidates Forum Q&A
Hasani Council Introductory Remarks
Hello to the residents of the City of Newark. I would like to thank the Newark Trust for Education for allowing me this opportunity to share my ideas with the community. My name is Hasani Council, and I am a candidate on the Moving Newark Schools Forward Slate, which is endorsed by Mayor Ras J. Baraka. I was born and raised in the South Ward of Newark. I attended George Washington Carver Elementary School and University High School, where I was very active in the student walkouts and protests against an unyielding school administration. I attended Montclair State University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in political science as well as my master’s degree in law and governance. While attending Montclair State, I was elected to serve as a Student Trustee on the Board of Trustees, where I was vocal in advocating for all students and was courageous and bold enough to vote against raising student tuition. I currently serve as a legislative aide for South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James and serve as a district leader in the South Ward. My long-term vision for the district is to make sure that equity is in place district wide and to advocate for a fully funded district. If elected, I will accomplish this by creating sound policies, making informed decisions based on data, collaborating with other board members, reaching out to the community and providing them with information about resources, advocating for students and the teachers who seek the best for their students, as well as supporting the superintendent. Please make sure that you Vote by Mail for the Moving Newark Schools Forward Slate by May 12 for Josephine Garcia A-1, Hasani Council A-2, and Flohisha Johnson A-3.
Q&A Round 1: Addressing the current situation confronting our educational system
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the educational landscape across the country. Schools in Newark are “closed until further notice.” Candidates will be asked three questions about the impact of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic on learning. Please connect your answers to the critical levers you have available to you as a school board member: Policy, Supervision of the Superintendent, and Budget.
1-A. As a prospective Board of Education member, what would you recommend to ensure continued learning for all students while school is closed?
The school buildings may be closed. However, instruction is still happening for our students. Our students have been provided with packets and online instruction for continued learning. I commend and support the superintendent who has been working diligently to acquire and provide google chrome books for our students to make sure that there is equity in learning. The teachers are implementing strategies that facilitate connecting with students and parents, while administrators are doing the same. As a board member, I would ensure continued communication with the district and would follow up to ensure that the learning mandates are being implemented and all vehicles of communication to our parents are being utilized. I would also ensure that all procedures are being followed for the students, staff, and community.
1-B. If the situation stabilizes by July 1, 2020, what recommendations do you have for the summer months to address any learning loss that might have occurred during the school closure? As a board member, I believe that it is imperative to continue to create positive learning systems for our students. By doing so, the board can continue to help establish online learning objectives, as well as, create summer enrichment options that focus on skills development and ensure that students are equipped with, and retain, fundamental knowledge of the skills covered during the school year even when they aren’t in school.
1-C. What changes, if any, would you recommend for the 20-21 academic year to address the current interruption? I would not necessarily call this current situation a complete interruption in the education of our students when they still have access to learning. As a board member, the current remote teaching and learning that has been put in place shows how our district is moving forward and also how we can utilize online learning and technology to extend classroom learning experience. This technology coupled with in-class learning, as it relates to the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content standards, helps us to become more innovative in our teaching and learning experiences. I believe that this is what our focus should be moving forward.
Q&A Round 2: Articulating your stance on a specific area of responsibility
As an elected official to the school board, you are required to collaborate and make difficult decisions with the eight other members of the board, as well as build public support for your positions. These decisions focus on issues concerning your primary responsibilities: the vision and goals for the district, the development and enforcement of district policies, the performance of the superintendent, and the development and adoption of the annual budget. In this round, we ask you to select one area of responsibility and articulate what changes you would advocate and work for in your chosen area.
2-A. On which area of responsibility would you like to focus on for this round: Vision and goals, district policy, evaluation of the superintendent, or use of the budget? What changes would you like to see in that area, and why? As a board member, I would want to enhance all the effective policies that assist in the growth and development of student achievement, parental involvement, and district efficiency. This would help to ensure transparency and flexibility to amend and or change policies that are not in accord with district and state standards as it relates to the educational development of both students and staff.
2-B. Describe, using an example from your professional career, how you build coalitions among your colleagues to make change happen. As a professional, coming to a consensus about the well-being of an organization is vital in decision making. As a legislative aide to South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James, I believe that collaboration with the administrative branch of government is vital for a legislator. The ability to examine data and quantify the objectives and goals of an organization is essential in building collaboration. As a leader, it is not only vital to agree to disagree, but to also to come to a collaborative agreement on what is best for the community overall and not just to an individual. Our collective genius is greater than individual gain; hence the work of the Board should be able to take precedence over individualized decisions.
2-C. What work do you imagine you must do to ensure the community understands and supports your position? The work that must be completed as a board member is to ensure presence and visibility to the constituency in which I will serve. In the role of a school board leader, it is also important to ensure that committee meetings and board meetings take precedence. Furthermore, as a board member, I must also be able to analyze data and evaluate goals for direction of the district, while helping to ensure fiduciary responsibility and, finally, serving as a voice for parents and students.
Q&A Round 3: Increasing student voice
Before the context changed so dramatically this year, the Trust worked with seven high school students across the district to prepare them to develop questions for and facilitate this forum. Due to the pandemic and the need for physical distancing, the Trust was not able to complete this work. We did hold two preparatory sessions with the seven students. The students wanted prospective school board members to speak to their plans for increasing student voice at every level of the system.
3-A. As a prospective Board of Education member, what current structures do you believe allow students to contribute to the decision-making that impacts their educational lives? Please be specific in naming the structure and articulating exactly how student voices are captured and used in either school or district decision-making? Also, speak to how you might strengthen this structure. The student representative is elected to sit on the board to be the voice of students throughout the district. It is my belief that the Board should work together to ensure that the student representative provides an adequate and detail-oriented report of expectations, issues, and concerns, as they relate to the student population of the district. The student representative that serves on the Board should hold quarterly meetings to engage student participation and make them aware of a framework for building stronger student growth in the district. As a board member, I will work to ensure that the student representative that serves on the Newark Public School Board creates an annual state of the student report or speech that will have the support of the district superintendent as well as the school body.
3-B. What additional ideas do you have to increase the impact of student voice on decision making either at the school or the district level that are not currently in place? Do you commit to advocating for them if you are elected to the Board? If elected to the Newark Board of Education, I will commit to advocating not just for students, but for concerned parents, dedicated teachers, and all the systems in place to move the district forward and heighten the educational success of our students.
Hasani Council Closing Remarks
I am a young 23-year-old progressive leader that is committed to moving the city forward and I will continue to be an advocate for our students to make sure that they receive an equitable and high-achieving education. As we go through this trying time in our nation, state, and city, it is important that we do not lose the vision of how strong we are together. Our perseverance and resilience, even through difficult times, show that we are a city that is compassionate, forward-thinking and strong. For these reasons, I encourage you to cast your vote by mail on May 12, 2020. Dr. King once stated, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. I am asking you to stand with ME and the Newark Forward Team.