Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/91 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 15:09:23 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) In the Age of De Blasio, A Bloomberg Era Small School Reunion http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6502:in-the-age-of-de-blasio-a-bloomberg-era-small-school-reunion http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6502:in-the-age-of-de-blasio-a-bloomberg-era-small-school-reunion reunion photo Andrea story1

reunion photo by Chrystina Russell, former principal of Global Tech


In July, I found myself back in the East Harlem cafeteria shared by Global Technology Preparatory and P.S. 7. The occasion for my visit was a reunion of Global Tech’s first class of eighth-graders, who were now, four years after their middle-school commencement, graduating from high school.

I was eager to return and see how the students had fared. I knew from my ongoing contacts with the school and its students that several had endured more than their fair share of tragedy, including homelessness, violence and depression, and yet many were getting ready to go to college. There were, however, at least two boys who would not make it to graduation because they were at Rikers Island.

Global Tech, as the middle school became known, was one of the first public schools that I began to follow as part of my research on how business ideas, especially those of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would influence K-12 education. I was curious to see how a school that was seen, in many ways, as a Bloomberg-era success story was faring under the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, and his schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña. A number of changes, some driven by the new administration’s desire to merge small schools—a major departure from Bloomberg policy—foreshadowed significant shifts at the school.

I learned about Global Tech when I served on the New York State Regents’ Committee to redraft the ELA standards, and shared train rides back from Albany to the city with Jackie Pryce-Harvey, one of the few educators on the committee who was both African-American and who taught in the inner-city. (The committee’s proposal was jettisoned when New York adopted the Common Core.) At the time, Pryce-Harvey was getting ready to launch Global Tech with her friend Chrystina Russell.

Pryce-Harvey and Russell had met in the New York City Teaching Fellows program and hit it off immediately—though they were an unlikely team. Pryce-Harvey, an immigrant from Jamaica, was in her 50s when she and Russell launched the technology-focused middle school in East Harlem. Pryce-Harvey’s technological skills didn’t extend much beyond sending emails.

Russell, by contrast, was 28 at the time they opened their school, and came from Muskegon, MI, an affluent white town, and a family of staunch Republicans. When it came to education, there was little about traditional schooling that Russell wanted for her kids; poor, inner-city, children of color should have access to the best technology because once they learn how to use the web and become thoughtful consumers of online information, they don’t have to worry as much about not knowing the texts written by old white men, she was sure.

However, both women were part of a generation of educators who had developed their careers in the wake of New York City’s small-schools movement, which dates back at least to Tony Alvarado and Debbie Meier’s “Miracle in Harlem,” which began in District 4 in the 1970s, and was newly embraced by Bloomberg.

Global Tech joined the administration’s “Innovation Zone,” or iZone initiative, to use “new” approaches to education, including digital technology and more flexible class schedules, such as longer learning blocks and extended school days, to improve student engagement and performance. (Flexible class schedules had actually been pioneered in  New York City years before the Bloomberg administration.)

Many early iZone schools dropped out of the program. But Global Tech thrived, and the school eagerly signed onto Chancellor Joel Klein’s grand bargain of increased autonomy in exchange for accountability. But, in the Alvarado-Meier tradition, Russell and Pryce-Harvey also saw their school as a collaborative venture in which they would work closely with both teachers and their community.

Both women were also trained as special education teachers and were committed to welcoming kids with special needs and mainstreaming them. Surrounded by charter schools, the special needs population at Global Tech - as at many neighboring Harlem schools - climbed sharply, from about 30 percent its first year to over 40 percent in recent years. Global Tech is a universal Title I school full of students from low-income households; almost all its students are black and Latino.

Pryce-Harvey was willing to help mid-wife the new school and to serve as the unofficial assistant principal—at least until she completed the administrator’s certification she would soon start working on. But, she was already planning her retirement and was sure she was not prepared to run the show. Instead, she encouraged Russell, who had graduated from the NYC Leadership Academy, a Bloomberg-era principal training program, to take the lead at their school, which featured a one-to-one student-to-laptop computer model.

And so it was that during the summer of 2009 the two women began hosting Sunday brunches in Pryce-Harvey’s Harlem brownstone for about half-a-dozen teachers who were hoping to teach at the school. None would be officially hired until the end of the summer. As Pryce-Harvey’s frequent travel companion to Albany, she invited me to attend the brunches and watch the school incubate.

The brunch participants included Jhonary Bridgemohan, who had once dreamed of becoming a mortician, but was now teaching English-Language Arts, as well as David Baiz, who had been rated “unsatisfactory” at the South Bronx school where he was then teaching, and feared he would be unfairly forced out.

Both Baiz and Bridgemohan had been mentored by Pryce-Harvey at PS/MS 4 in the South Bronx, which all three described as utterly dysfunctional and were eager to escape.

Now, seven years later, Russell has moved on to other educational ventures. (She first helped launch a hybrid university in Kigali, Rwanda, for Kepler, an educational nonprofit, and recently became a vice president at Southern New Hampshire University.)

Russell’s tenure at Global Tech serves, at least in part, as a commentary on the limits of the Bloomberg/Klein efforts to rein in the educational bureaucracy. Making the most of the autonomy-for-accountability bargain the administration promised, she raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in private funding for Global Tech from companies like GE and Cisco and invested in a slew of opportunities for her kids, including an extended day program via Citizens Schools and an arrangement with Computers for Youth, which, for a time, provided a home computer for every Global Tech child.

An inveterate rule breaker, Russell also would field 27 bureaucratic investigations during her three years as Global Tech principal, though all but one would eventually be dismissed. The lone remaining charge—that fearing the loss of a treasured school secretary, an education-department veteran with both strong people skills and deep knowledge of bureaucratic arcana, when her family moved to Connecticut, Russell used privately raised funds to subsidize the secretary’s train tickets to work.

When I asked Russell, recently, if she could ever see herself back in the public school system, she responded elliptically: “The Bloomberg-Klein years were the ones for me.”

Russell groomed David Baiz as her successor. She had once said of Baiz: “David is skilled; he’s always moving forward.” “[H]e gives 125 percent” virtually every day, she added.

Baiz’s accomplishments at Global Tech were considerable. He helped win the school thousands of dollars in grants and served as its de facto technology guru. A nationally recognized math teacher, he won a prestigious Math for America fellowship complete with a $15,000-per-year stipend. And he was selected as one of six New York City teachers to be part of the Digital Teacher Corps, a Ford Foundation-funded collaboration among educators, technologists, and designers to develop interactive digital learning tools. He was also beloved by students and respected by his colleagues.

Meanwhile, Pryce-Harvey has taken over as principal of P.S. 7, the K-to-8 school that shares a building with Global Tech.

The promotions of Baiz and Pryce-Harvey are a testament to Global Tech’s reputation. During 2012-2013, the school’s third year, and the last year for which such data is available—the de Blasio administration discontinued school grades as well as test-score comparisons among “peer” schools—Global Tech’s student growth scores were far above “peer schools” in both ELA and math. The scores were especially high for kids in the “bottom third” of their classes.

In math, the “growth scores” of the bottom-third of Global Tech students almost equaled the performance of a comparable cohort of students citywide—that is schools with both affluent and poor children. Global Tech also enjoyed a 94 percent attendance rate, far above “peer” schools. The school earned an “A” for the student progress portion of the report card, which measures how much individual students improved over the previous year, and a “highly developed” on the academic rigor portion of the evaluation.

Moreover, virtually everyone loved the school. On its Learning Environment Surveys, Global Tech scored well over 90 percent on almost every measure of parent, teacher, and student satisfaction.

But the future of Global Tech also could turn out to be a referendum on the leadership of Carmen Fariña, who is not particularly keen on small schools, and is reputed never to have met a Bloomberg-era innovation that she likes.

Even as Baiz and Russell, who had just returned from Rwanda, were hastily putting together the reunion, the future of the school is uncertain.

For the reunion, close to half of the 60-or-so students in Global Tech’s first cohort showed up in the school’s cafeteria, as well as most of the teachers who taught that first year, including a few who have moved on to other jobs. Many of Global Tech’s alums have been visiting the school throughout high school for help with homework, SAT prep, or just a chance to visit with teachers who have served as their mentors since middle school. During close to two dozen visits to the school during the past two years, Global Tech alums have been a clear, regular presence.

Almost every alum at the reunion said she or he was going on to college—in most cases community college. Pryce-Harvey explained that four-year college was out of reach for most Global Tech alums unless they received hefty scholarships.

Kaira was a stand-out in her Global Tech class, and served as valedictorian of her graduating class at the iSchool, another flagship Bloomberg venture. She had dreamed of attending Stanford University, but as an undocumented student who has spent much of her teen years without a fixed address—and sometimes homeless—she is instead going to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York.

To hear Kaira tell it, school, especially at Global Tech, has been a refuge and a beacon. “It may be that I’m struggling with a problem in English class or math, but it’s nothing like whatever struggle I deal with at home,” Kaira said. “It’s easier to find solutions” to those academic problems, than the ones she faces in her personal life.

“My education has always been a therapeutic experience,” she said. “That place where I can escape.”

Kaira sings the praises of her iSchool teachers who held regular after-school office hours. But in her sophomore year, when she needed help with her American history Regents exam, she turned to her old math teacher, Mr. Baiz. Later, he helped her with AP English, “which is bizarre,” says the 18-year-old with a big smile.

For Kaira, teachers like Baiz and Bridgemohan have been a much needed anchor. Global Tech is also the place where she learned to dream big and to believe that she might be able to go to college.

Tabitha, Kaira’s classmate both at the iSchool and at Global Tech, also leaned on her middle-school teachers when times got tough. When Tabitha landed in a homeless shelter in her junior year of high school and suffered from depression, she fell behind in her school work. But she kept showing up occasionally at Global Tech. Baiz worried that Tabitha might not finish high school and consulted with the iSchool’s administration. Tabitha, too, succeeded in graduating and is planning on attending community college.

Miguel said of himself, at the reunion, that he had been a “horrible student” at Global Tech, one who was “always suspended”—though the suspensions usually involved doing his school work in Russell’s office. He transferred in and out of high schools, but eventually got his GED. He’s now enrolling in CUNY’s BMCC and planning to major in business management.

Raimi was one of several Global Tech students who got into Manhattan Hunter Science High, which has an early college arrangement that allows seniors to take college courses at Hunter College during their senior year. Raimi now has a four-year scholarship to Hunter College.

Raven, another Global Tech student who got into Manhattan Hunter Science, regularly sought out Baiz both for help with her math homework and for much needed advice as, for example, when she decided to transfer to a less competitive high school. Raven is taking a gap year and thinking of joining the military.

Quentin went from Global Tech to Cardinal Hayes, which he described as a “really good” Catholic school; but when the tuition fees got too high for his mom, he transferred to Life Sciences Secondary School. He found the transition from private school back to public school “difficult,” he says. He “got too comfortable,” but snapped back at the “last second.” He says he’s going to Monroe College in New Rochelle. His goal, he says without prompting, is “to take my mom out of the ‘hood.” 

Ismauri attended Manhattan Business Academy High and is going to the College of Staten Island. Travis is going to New York City Tech, a four-year CUNY college. Kamarthi got a basketball scholarship to attend SUNY Buffalo. Adonia is going to St. Francis in Brooklyn.

Dariya and Dariel, a sister-brother duo, are both going to Dutchess Community College. Dariya is planning to become a cosmetologist. Her brother, Dariel, has been completing a vocational program in auto mechanics and working in an auto shop through high school; he plans to become a mechanic.

Several students who didn’t get word of the reunion in time or couldn’t attend also are headed to college, among them David and Derek.

“Global Tech is a real family,” said Maria, one of the only parents who attended the reunion, there with her daughter, Amanda, who will be attending Guttman Community College in the Fall. “Of all the schools Amanda went to, this was the one with heart,” Maria said.

Yet, not all Global Tech graduates have overcome the considerable obstacles these kids face—including the gangs that rule the housing projects where many of them live. Two boys from the inaugural Global Tech class are in jail at Rikers Island awaiting sentencing. News of what had happened to a boy named Franklin hit Russell and Pryce-Harvey particularly hard. “I'm devastated,” emailed Russell when she first got the news this Spring. “Love that kid. And wow did Jackie and I ever spend a lot of time with him and his family.”

Russell and Pryce-Harvey both visited Franklin at Rikers and Russell showed up in court. Russell, who says she considers Franklin’s incarceration a “personal failure,” has petitioned the judge to allow her to take Franklin with her to Boston—and away from bad influences in his neighborhood; she wants to enroll him in a GED program and, eventually, at Southern New Hampshire University. She is awaiting the court’s decision. Russell says of Franklin: “He has no hate in his heart. And he is so smart.”

In a letter he wrote to the judge while he was incarcerated at Rikers, Franklin pleaded for the opportunity to finish his education.

The reunion in the Global Tech cafeteria had the air of celebration. Most of the students had kept up with at least one or two teachers from the school. Some had attended earlier pizza parties for alums. But there were hugs and high-fives as kids who hadn’t seen each other in four years reconnected.

Yet, unbeknownst to its alumni, Global Tech faces an uncertain future. In a reversal of Bloomberg’s small-schools policy, Farina plans to merge dozens of small schools, arguing that mergers will create economies of scale and allow schools to offer more programs.

Rumors that a new District 4 superintendent, Alexandra Estrella, was planning to merge Global Tech and P.S. 7 began swirling over a year ago. At the time, P.S. 7 was run by Sameer Talati, whose once cordial relationship with Global Tech had begun to deteriorate. According to several people close to Global Tech, Baiz suggested to Talati that they propose merging the two middle schools under Global Tech’s leadership and that Talati continue running the P.S. 7 elementary school. Talati,  however, is said to have made a bid to run both schools.

Many educators familiar with Harlem schools consider Global Tech to be the stronger school, and urged Baiz to fight to lead any merger. Somewhat belatedly, Baiz, whose strengths as an educator do not include bureaucratic politics, was persuaded to make the case that Global Tech should be the lead school in a merger.

Talati eventually moved to DOE headquarters. Pryce-Harvey was appointed interim principal at P.S. 7. Baiz, for now, remains in charge of Global Tech.

But the ground under Global Tech continues to shift. The rumors of a merger still abound. Meanwhile, Baiz was turned down for tenure and the school’s most recent quality review, dated 2014-2015, was decidedly mediocre even though more than one experienced educator has referred to him as “one of the best principals in Harlem.”

On the only “quality review” posted by the DOE under Fariña, Global Tech earned a “developing”—the second lowest on a four-point scale—on two of five evaluation criteria, and a “proficient” on three criteria. The school did not earn a single “well developed”—the highest rating—not even for school culture, even though, since its inception, Global Tech has scored off-the-charts school-environment surveys.

By contrast, the administration gave P.S. 7, under Talati, six ‘proficients,’ four ‘well-developeds,’ and no ‘developings’ on his last quality review in 2013-2014, on a slightly more detailed rubric than the one used by the DOE the following year.

Similarly, on P.S. 7’s next quality review, which took place just two months after Pryce-Harvey took over, the school received four ‘proficients,’ one ‘well-developed,’ and no ‘developings.’

Baiz’s mistake, says one educator close to the school, was that he didn’t “play the game,” relying on the reviewer to look at the students “digital portfolios” where students keep copies of their work.

Russell also believes that Baiz’s reluctance to fight the planned takeover by P.S. 7 may have been “viewed as weakness” by the superintendent.

Whatever the case, Pryce-Harvey, at P.S. 7, had carefully prepared for her review, having her teachers refine lesson plans to show, among other things, how they reflected administrator observations and feedback and how that feedback had positively impacted student performance on, say, test scores. The revised lesson plans were then placed, along with other school data, in two binders, each three-to-four inches thick, neatly separated by tabs listing key elements of the quality-review rubric—including curriculum, parent engagement, and teacher evaluations.

New York City educators loved to hate the Bloomberg/Klein administration, with its penchant for serial reorganizations and its army of MBAs. At the same time, some of the city’s best principals conceded that the businessman-mayor’s school administration had made their lives easier. For principals who survived the New York City iZone’s many incarnations, or who had inherited the small-school mantel from Meier and Alvarado, the Bloomberg years were an opportunity to experiment with some relief from bureaucratic control.

However, the Bloomberg/Klein era was also one of creative destruction, which has been described by insiders as a deliberate Humpty Dumpty strategy—one designed to break the education bureaucracy such that it could never be put back together again. If so, the strategy has proved short-lived.

Under the de Blasio/Farina administration, according to many city educators, micromanagement is once again rampant. Even the most prized power conferred on principals by Klein—control over their budgets—has not proved sacrosanct. For example, when Baiz sought to promote Bridgemohan, his long-time colleague, to fill Pryce-Harvey’s shoes as assistant principal, Estrella is said to have nixed the plan. It was the sort of interference in principal decision making unprecedented in Global Tech’s seven year history.

Estrella did not return repeated requests for an interview.

Many seasoned educators have voted with their feet. Spurred by new testing and teacher-evaluation mandates, as well as dismay over meddling by a newly muscular central administration, several veteran principals retired or transferred to new jobs at the end of the Bloomberg administration and beginning of the de Blasio administration. Many of those who remain report feeling increasingly frustrated, especially by what they describe as the new administration’s micromanagement.

For Global Tech, one of the few certainties is that as long as Baiz and the school’s long-time teachers remain, they will continue to serve a much needed support for students and alums.

PRIOR COVERAGE OF GLOBAL TECH, THE IZONE, & MORE FROM ANDREA GABOR:

A Harlem Middle School Bets on Technology

City Schools Gamble on Going Digitial

In the Waning Months of Bloomberg's Tenure, A Signature Education Innovation is at a Crossroads

When Making a Great Teacher is a Team Effort

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Andrea Gabor is the Bloomberg Professor of Business Journalism at Baruch College/CUNY and is working on a new book on education reform. On Twitter @aagabor.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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In the Age of De Blasio, A Bloomberg Era Small School Reunion Sun, 28 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000
DOE School Survey Shows High Marks, Contrasts with Public Polling http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6473:doe-school-survey-shows-high-marks-contrasts-with-public-polling http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6473:doe-school-survey-shows-high-marks-contrasts-with-public-polling de Blasio Farina student test scores

Mayor, Chancellor & Student (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


In 2007, New York City administered its first comprehensive survey on school satisfaction levels among students, parents, and teachers in the city’s vast public school system. That year, the Department of Education received just under 600,000 responses. In 2016, with the survey in its tenth year, the number of responses totaled over 1 million for the first time. It was also the first year that parents and teachers involved in the de Blasio administration’s new “Pre-K for All” program were included among the survey’s respondents.

The results of the survey are usually quite positive and this year was no exception, leading the DOE to celebrate the responses as validation of programming gone right. In the DOE’s press release announcing the 2016 survey results, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, “As we work towards equity and excellence in every public school across the City, parents are our partners, and it’s great to see over one million New Yorkers – including a record number of parents – sharing their input. Together, we’ll continue the progress we’ve made and make New York City the best urban school district in the nation.”

While the DOE survey suggests students, parents, and teachers are highly satisfied with New York City public schools, a recent Quinnipiac poll conducted suggests that not all New Yorkers agree. According to the poll, 60 percent of New Yorkers are dissatisfied with New York City public schools while 25 percent are satisfied. (The remaining 15% answered that they don’t know.) A higher percentage of respondents said they prefer privately-run public charter schools to traditional public schools.

According the Department of Education website, the purpose of the survey is to aid schools in identifying aspects of its learning environment that need improvement and ensure that schools continue to foster elements of their learning environments that are satisfactory to students, parents, and teachers alike. While the survey provides the DOE with at least some helpful data, there are questions about its usefulness, format, and cost.

There are three different versions of the NYC School Survey -- one each for students, parents, and teachers. This year, 81 percent of teachers, 83 percent of students, and 51 percent of parents in community schools across the city responded to the survey. The response rates increased by one percentage point from the 2015 survey for both students and parents and remained the same for teachers.

Parents’ overall satisfaction with their children’s schools continued to be extremely high. When asked “How satisfied” they were with “The education my child has received this year,” 95 percent of those who took the survey responding that they are “very satisfied” or “satisfied.” That figure has remained constant at 95 percent since 2013. Students recorded high levels of satisfaction with their schools as well, with 80 percent of student respondents recording that they either “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement, “My school offers a wide enough variety of programs, classes and activities to keep me interested in school.” Additionally, 80 percent of students felt supported by teachers in their preparations for their post-graduation plans.

Other specific questions relate to school environment (e.g. school cleanliness, personal safety while at school, bullying among classmates); the quality of academic instruction; level of support among teachers and school leadership; and ease of communication among all parties. While some questions appear on all three surveys with slight variations, some questions are particular to each group. For example, only parents are asked the question of what improvements they would like to see at their school (as in their child’s school).

Many survey questions ask respondents to note how much they agree with a series of statements. Other questions use a similar format but measure the frequency of a certain behavior or condition - for example, “How often do students in your class(es) work in small groups?” Some are formatted as multiple choice questions with specific responses to questions like, “Which improvements would you most like your schools to make?”

The cost of conducting the 2016 survey was approximately $1.85 million.

Elements of school quality are evaluated through the DOE’s Framework for Great Schools, a tool of analysis that looks at six aspects of a school’s learning environment -- rigorous instruction, supportive environment, collaborative teachers, effective school leadership, strong family and community ties, and trust -- to determine its ability to foster student achievement. The Framework for Great Schools was adopted in 2015, the 2016 schools survey reflects only the second year of results based on the new evaluation framework adopted by the DOE under Chancellor Farina.

Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, a nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on reducing class size in New York City schools, said that the Framework for Great Schools is a well-intentioned model, but she believes it is an ineffective tool in practice.

“The original concept, this Framework of Great Schools that came out of Chicago, was very useful…[it] came out of this study by Tony Bryk that looked at schools in Chicago, and he looked at which ones had strong Local School Councils and which ones did not, and the ones that had Local School Councils -- which really devolved a lot of decision-making to the school level and it included parents as the majority members -- had better results,” Haimson told Gotham Gazette in a phone interview.

“Now this administration has a lot of PR about parent involvement, but I can tell you that they have not empowered a School Leadership Team to the degree that they need to. School Leadership Teams -- unlike in Chicago -- do not have the power in New York City, don’t have any authority over principal selection or even really principal evaluation, and a lot of other things. They’re really disempowered.”

According to the DOE, research from the Chicago Consortium on School Research was one source used to formulate the Framework for Great Schools, but it was not the only source. And while the DOE’s Framework was created using research from outside sources, the DOE says that the final product is an analysis tool tailored specifically for the New York City school system.

Prior to the creation of the Framework for Great Schools the city school survey evaluated schools based on four elements of a school’s learning environment: academic expectations, communication, engagement, and safety and respect.

While the majority of the survey’s questions are designed to assess schools based on the six elements of the Framework for Great Schools, some questions are considered “informational.”

One informational question consistently posed to parents has garnered a largely consistent response since the survey’s creation. When parents are asked the question of what they would most like to see improved in their child’s school, “smaller class size” and “more enrichment programs” have been in or near the top two most wanted improvements almost every year that the survey has been given. Also featured at or near the top for many years are “more preparation for state tests” and “more hands-on learning.”

Despite consistently high satisfaction levels among parents with city schools overall, the fact that these improvements continue to be parents’ top requests year after year may be indicative of a lack of meaningful action taken on these requests by school leadership.

There are also questions about the consistency of the survey itself. In 2015, the question of potential improvements wasn’t offered to parents for the first time since the survey was created in 2007, but it was reintroduced in the 2016 survey, and, for the first time, the term “enrichment programs” was explained in the question using examples.

David Bloomfield, professor of education at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, questions the usefulness of survey questions posed to parents about improvements, such as smaller class sizes, given the constraints with which the Department of Education operates.

“The DOE is clearly not flexible about class size arrangements, which it makes because of the size of schools, the size of classrooms, the size of the budget. It’s a persistent problem that doesn’t change just because parents put it high on their list of priorities in a survey, so what use is that?” Bloomfield said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette.

While the survey serves to evaluate satisfaction by key stakeholders with individual schools and identify a school’s problem areas, the larger system that directly influences individual schools is left out of the equation. The questions posed to students, parents, and teachers on the surveys are related almost exclusively to the individual school and the members and leadership of that individual school. Only two questions asked of parents and seven questions asked of teachers were directly related to the wider New York City school system, run out of the Department of Education, under the Mayor, and there were no questions pertaining to statewide policies such as Common Core Learning Standards or teacher performance evaluations.

Haimson believes that while general questions about parent and teacher satisfaction with broader government and education policy aren’t necessary, asking specific questions on education issues that directly affect students, parents, and teachers would be useful.

“I think is an important question when so much of what’s happening during the school day are driven by these federal or state mandates,” said Haimson.

From 2012 to 2014, the survey given to teachers included questions on the implementation of the Common Core and state assessments, but starting in 2015, Common Core and assessment questions were no longer included. Additionally, on the 2013 and 2014 surveys, parents were asked to record how much they agreed with the statement, “My child’s school...helps me understand what the Common Core learning standards mean for my child…” The 2015 and 2016 parent surveys did not include this question.

According to the DOE, the questions about the Common Core that appeared on previous surveys were included to evaluate the implementation of the then new instruction method. On more recent surveys, there have been questions pertaining to Common Core instruction, though the specific term “Common Core” has not been included.

While certain questions have been changed or taken out of the survey in recent years, a new series of questions was added in 2016. Parents and teachers involved with Mayor de Blasio’s “Pre-K for All” program were given surveys this year for the first time in the survey’s history (the students are four years old and not given surveys, which only go to students in grades 6 through 12). While the rates of parent satisfaction on every aspect of the pre-K program exceeded 90 percent, the response rate for both parents and teachers was low, at 47 percent and 69 percent, respectively.

“The NYC School Survey is a critical, research-based tool for getting the feedback of over one million parents, teachers, and students, and using that feedback to improve our schools. This year’s results recognize the hard work and dedication of school leaders and teachers, and will guide schools as they continue to make progress and work towards equity and excellence,” said the DOE in a statement made available to Gotham Gazette via email.

High marks from parents on pre-K and the high marks recorded across all public schools in New York City may reflect general satisfaction, but Professor Bloomfield doesn’t believe they confirm with any certainty that the survey is a valuable tool for New Yorkers.

“I think there’s a bigger question as to whether it’s worth all the money, time, and effort that it takes to put out the survey as relative to its worth,” Bloomfield said. “It becomes a very hard thing and a PR problem for any mayor or chancellor who would cut back on the survey, but is it really worth it?”

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by Libby Wetzler, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

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DOE School Survey Shows High Marks, Contrasts with Public Polling Tue, 09 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000
De Blasio School Discipline Policy Shift Causes A Stir http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6360:de-blasio-school-discipline-policy-shift-causes-a-stir http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6360:de-blasio-school-discipline-policy-shift-causes-a-stir de blasio school student discipline

De Blasio at Brooklyn Generation School (photo: Ed Reed, Mayor's Office)


In April 2015, the New York City Department of Education modified its discipline code and added an extra step to the process for suspending students from school. Principals are now required to receive authorization from the DOE before suspending students in grades K through 2 for any behavior or any student of any age for incidents involving insubordination, such as cursing at a teacher or refusing to leave a classroom. The change was made in an effort to move away from overusing suspensions and toward alternative disciplinary measures that address the root causes of disruptive behavior.

In its first year of implementation, the change in suspension policy and the overall culture shift related to school discipline that the de Blasio administration has sought have yielded a dramatic decrease in student suspensions. The shift has been praised widely, but has also been met with resistance as some say schools are under-resourced to work with students who need to be out of the classroom and others say the policy is leading to a deterioration of school climate.

When a school seeks a ‘superintendent’s suspension,’ which can range from six days to one year, an electronic request with a description of the incident is sent to the borough directors of suspension at the DOE, who vote on authorization. An affirmative vote will send the case to the hearing office and begin the suspension process. With the policy change, ‘principal suspensions,’ which range from one to five days, for younger students and cases of minor infractions will follow the same procedure. After the vote, a conversation with the principal is initiated to discuss potential alternative disciplinary measures.

“Suspension alone doesn’t change a child’s behavior,” Lois Herrera, CEO of Youth Safety and Development, told Gotham Gazette. “But, for example, restorative practices where the student has to take ownership of the behavior, explain the harm or understand the harm that is caused, and then come up with a solution for repairing the harm is so much more powerful in terms of changing behavior.”

What Herrera is explaining is the move toward the “restorative justice” model of school discipline, where students are guided in repairing relationships and investigating the causes of their actions. The process has been panned by some, but the de Blasio administration and the City Council have both committed to it for New York City schools.

In the first half of the school year, the number of suspensions decreased by almost 32 percent compared to the first half of last school year, according to a report from the DOE. While many saw this as a mark of success, criticisms of the new suspension policy also began to pick up steam. Representatives from both charter school advocacy groups and the teachers’ union expressed concerns, claiming the new policy interferes with discipline and jeopardizes student safety.

The DOE does not oversee disciplinary practices at charter schools. Some charter schools, especially the Success Academy network, have come under scrutiny for their “zero tolerance” discipline code and high suspension rates. Education reform groups like Families for Excellent Schools and StudentsFirstNY, erstwhile de Blasio critics, have become especially vocal in criticizing the de Blasio administration’s discipline policy. A group led by Families for Excellent Schools even filed a class action lawsuit against the DOE for its “refusal to take action to keep children safe.”

A typical de Blasio ally, the United Federation of Teachers, has seen its president say the DOE has not provided adequate support for schools to begin using alternative discipline.

The DOE has received $47 million from the city to fund restorative justice programs and mental health supports in schools throughout the city during the next academic year. According to DOE officials, the funding will be used for staff training in social-emotional learning, youth suicide prevention, and therapeutic crisis intervention. It will also allow the DOE to hire more social workers, on-site mental health consultants, and counselors.

Staff trained in restorative disciplinary practices will learn to conduct restorative circles, which engage students in repairing and developing relationships, and restorative conferences, which hold a student accountable for his or her actions and the resulting harm and also provides an opportunity to repair the harm.

“It isn’t just about taking away something,” said Herrera. “It’s about also providing support and a new way of thinking. It’s a little bit of a mindshift, and in a system as large as the DOE a mindshift can take a number of years.”

After years of advocacy by some, the changes began last November when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to reduce the use of punitive school discipline and lower school crime rates.

“Parents in all neighborhoods across New York City deserve to the peace of mind to know that their children are empowered to learn and succeed in a safe, inclusive environment,” Mayor de Blasio said in a press release. “This roadmap will ensure that schools across the city bring families, educators, safety professionals, and community leaders together to support one of New York City's most prized resources – our students."

The release also stated that harsh discipline policies disproportionately affected students of color and students with disabilities. Last October, Chalkbeat NY reported that black students received about 52 percent of the previous year’s suspensions, even though they represent 28 percent of students. Students with disabilities - 18 percent of the student population - received 38 percent of the suspensions. Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director at Alliance for Quality Education, a teachers union-backed group, believes that suspensions for childish behavior, such as writing on a desk or yelling, drive this racial disparity.

“The disparities are clear. The racial lines are very clear, not only in New York but across the country, of what children are being suspended,” Ansari said in a phone interview. “It’s important to remember that the DOE hasn’t eliminated suspensions as an option for schools, but that it created another level of authorization for suspensions for minor infractions.”

With this added authorization, Ansari hopes that school officials will continue to have in-depth conversations about what supports students need and that students will learn better conflict resolution skills.

Relying on disciplinary measures other than suspension can also benefit students’ futures, research has shown. When de Blasio created a Mayoral Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline last year, researchers studied the negative effects of suspensions and repeated behavioral referrals. According to NYU Professor Eddie Fergus, who served as the co-chair of the team’s data and research group, suspensions result in loss of educational time, attendance issues, and a higher likelihood of involvement with the criminal justice system.

A majority of education advocates, academics, and other experts agree that students should not be suspended from school for things like talking back to a teacher or engaging in a verbal argument with a classmate. All agree, though, that schools must have the proper resources to work with students in conflict. If there has been a choppy first phase of the new DOE discipline policy, it has been around those resources. The ratio of students to guidance counselors in city schools has been the subject of controversy recently, and the de Blasio administration has increased funding for more counselors.

There are also always those resistant to change, some point out.

Advocates for Children began the School Justice Project to address the root causes of suspension and help keep students out of the criminal justice system. The project also helps students in juvenile detention or those returning from detention stay on track to reach their academic goals.

“When students are suspended, it increases their likelihood of not graduating from high school, it increases their likelihood of being involved in the juvenile justice system,” said Paulina Davis, supervising attorney of AFC’s School Justice Project. “There are high stakes outcomes on the line every time a student is suspended. So it’s really a process that we need to be very thoughtful about.”

***
by Carmen Russo, Gotham Gazette
@GothamGazette

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De Blasio School Discipline Policy Shift Causes A Stir Wed, 25 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Senate Holds Second Mayoral Control Hearing, Without the Mayor http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6347:senate-holds-second-mayoral-control-hearing-without-the-mayor http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6347:senate-holds-second-mayoral-control-hearing-without-the-mayor de blasio business leaders buery farina

De Blasio at City Hall on Wednesday (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


Just one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared at City Hall with a bevy of business leaders to push for extending mayoral control of New York City schools, the state Senate education committee held its second hearing on the issue right across the street. Administration officials, education professionals and advocates testified to make their case for and against mayoral control (mostly for) as state Senators demanded answers on a wide range of educational policies, while repeatedly noting the conspicuous absence of the mayor himself.

The debate around mayoral control has reignited as the June 30 deadline for extending it fast approaches. The Democrat-controlled Assembly gave the mayor a three-year extension on Tuesday and the ball is now in the Senate’s court, where Republicans who have control of the chamber have been reluctant to extend it beyond one year, if at all. The mayor has spent the last few weeks pushing his administration’s accomplishments to make his case for extending mayoral control for seven years. Having spent four hours at the first hearing in Albany on May 4 arguing for a seven-year extension, de Blasio declined to testify on Thursday. His absence was not taken lightly.

“We are missing the mayor, and he’s the chief player and he’s the person in charge and we would like him to have been here,” said Senator Carl Marcellino, chair of the education committee, in his opening remarks. Without giving examples, he stressed that many questions from the May 4 hearing had been left unanswered and the mayor should have been there to answer them.

Instead, the administration was represented by schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who had testified by the mayor’s side in Albany. Throughout her testimony, Fariña sought to establish the gains from mayoral control - increased graduation rates, fewer dropouts, the implementation of universal pre-kindergarten, increased arts education investment, the success of the Renewal Schools program, to name a few.

“Mayoral control also allows us to plan more fully and with more confidence for the future,” Fariña said. “Without mayoral control it would be nearly impossible for a mayor to lay out a long-term detailed vision for our schools such as Equity and Excellence.”

Marcellino, while insisting that Fariña’s testimony was “fantastic,” bookended it with another call out to the mayor. “This would’ve been a better situation if the mayor was here to defend his, and I don’t mean defend in a negative way, but to defend his running of the city schools,” Marcellino said. Other Senators made similar remarks throughout the hearing, including Senators Jose Peralta of Queens and Simcha Felder of Brooklyn.

While the stated agenda of the hearing was mayoral control, it was quickly apparent that it would not be limited solely to the system as a governing structure for education policy-making. Over the course of four-and-a-half hours, the hearing touched on numerous aspects of education policy and planning in the city - overcrowding, school closures, school safety, the number of psychologists per student, the Panel for Educational Policy, and the ever-touchy subject of charters schools.

As he often does, Senator Bill Perkins of Manhattan in particular railed against charter schools, stressing that they are an outcropping of the “dictatorial” mayoral control system. At one point during the hearing, Marcellino seemed to rebuke Perkins for deviating from the issue at hand and even offered to hold a separate hearing on charters. A similar scene had unfolded at the May 4 hearing. In this case, Farina was forced to carefully answer charter school-related questions that the de Blasio administration would rather avoid. After battles with charter school, the administration has moved toward a peaceful coexistence model, especially after new state laws forced their hand.

About 20 advocates, education professionals, and experts testified and most were in favor of mayoral control, albeit often with caveats. Some proposed shorter extensions while others proposed reforms to the system at various levels. Some emphasized that their support of mayoral control did not necessarily imply support for all of de Blasio’s policies, or even some. Indeed, the current situation creates an often dissonant reality where some of those who were the strongest proponents of mayoral control under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who first won the power in 2002, are now twisting in knots as they criticize de Blasio’s policies but do not go so far as to call for the end of mayoral control.

Others who testified did oppose mayoral control even while suggesting reforms if it is extended. “Any system of governance must have checks and balances,” said Teresa Arboleda, chair of the Education Council Consortium’s legislative committee, insisting on more local control and parent input in educational policy. “We cannot have a new school system every time there is a new mayor.”

Some of the reforms proposed included:

  • Changes in composition to the Panel for Educational Policy to allow it more independence and insulate it against ‘rubber-stamping’ the mayor’s decisions
  • Reforms in how Community Education Councils are constituted, making CECs more transparent and giving them increased authority
  • Expanding the Citywide Council on Special Education
  • Mandatory experience and qualifications for the schools chancellor
  • More clearly defined discipline policies
  • Equal treatment of charter schools as compared to district schools
  • More transparency in Department of Education contract procurement and policy making

Jacob Mnookin, founder and executive director of Coney Island Preparatory Charter School, supports an extension of the system, he said, but insisted that the mayor should stop letting his political agenda interfere with student education. The mayor has been a very vocal opponent of the charter school movement in the city. “All public school students deserve to be treated equally no matter what politics are at play,” said Mnookin. “The mayor must address these inequalities present in the public school system of New York City.”

The two most important people were not at Thursday's hearing, though: Mayor de Blasio and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. Flanagan, formerly chair of the education committee and a critic of de Blasio, had chastised the mayor's refusal to appear before the committee a second time in a Wednesday statement. Though he was not there, Flanagan had also criticized de Blasio after the May 4 hearing in Albany, saying he had not answered many of the questions posed to him in a satisfactory fashion, which surprised many who had witnessed it. Flanagan will negotiate extension of mayoral control with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a de Blasio ally, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is in a long-standing feud with the mayor. Cuomo did call for a three-year extension of mayoral control in his January budget.

Although there emerged plenty of ideas about how to change the system on Thursday, and ample criticism of its weaknesses, most people did not want to see a reversion to the old school board system. Not many could even articulate what would happen if mayoral control did indeed lapse. The final speaker of the day, Dennis Walcott, president and CEO of the Queens Library system, perhaps had the most informed perspective on that issue. Walcott served as Schools Chancellor before Farina and deputy mayor of education under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He stressed that the old Board of Education system was chaotic and plagued by “patronage, waste, dysfunction” and that mayoral control reversed that. “Mayoral control is about making the mayor, elected by the people of New York City, take responsibility for the education of our city and effectuate the best education possible for our children,” he said.

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Senate Holds Second Mayoral Control Hearing, Without the Mayor Fri, 20 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Concerns Over Proceedings as De Blasio Administration Faces Second Mayoral Control Hearing http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6341:extension-of-mayoral-school-control-politicized-some-say http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6341:extension-of-mayoral-school-control-politicized-some-say de blasio farina state senate

De Blasio testifying in Albany (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


It was supposed to be the grilling to end all grillings: Mayor Bill de Blasio seated at a small table, staring up at glowering Republican state Senators carrying major grudges for his work to oust them from power in the 2014 elections, all carrying the fate of his ability to enact education policy in the palm of their hands. That wasn’t what took place.

The May 4 hearing in Albany on mayoral control of city schools featured four hours of meandering questioning, polite responses, and a generally cordial atmosphere. There was no major comeuppance despite one seemingly scripted attempt by Republican Sen. Terrence Murphy to chide de Blasio for the investigations he currently faces. Murphy’s staff quickly blasted out a press release about how he had challenged the mayor.

It was surprising to many who had witnessed the hearing when, the day after, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan issued a statement blasting the mayor’s testimony and calling his competence into question. “Too often, the mayor showed a disturbing lack of personal knowledge about the city schools. In addition, he has left too many unanswered questions and failed to provide specifics on many of the issues raised by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Flanagan said in a statement. “Until that occurs, I will not entrust this mayor with the awesome responsibility of operating the New York City school system.”

Flanagan’s statement on the hearing convinced many Democrats and education advocates that the two May hearings on mayoral control are politically motivated. The de Blasio administration - represented by schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, but not the mayor - is scheduled to testify again during a hearing in Manhattan on Thursday. Flanagan released a statement Wednesday morning criticizing the mayor for the decision not to testify: "I am extremely disappointed the Mayor doesn't believe this hearing is significant enough to attend," he said. "With the future of mayoral control at stake, Mayor de Blasio has left too many unanswered questions about his stewardship of the New York City school system." 

The mayor was granted just a one-year extension of mayoral control last year. His predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, was the first to be given mayoral control by the state - which provided an original term of seven years in 2002, followed by a six year extension that was due to expire last year.

Testimony for both of this month’s hearings has been “by invitation only” and according to a number of parents, education groups, and Senate Democrats several parents have been told they will not be allowed to testify and instead can submit written testimony. Senate Republicans released a list of those who will testify on Thursday - like the first hearing, it is heavy on charter school supporters and others in the education reform community.

On Tuesday, the Assembly passed a three-year extension of mayoral control. The Democratic Assembly Majority had previously supported a seven-year extension. De Blasio issued a statement thanking the Assembly.

“Along with a bipartisan coalition of New Yorkers, we refuse to subject more than one million schoolchildren to the dysfunction and chaos of the old system,” de Blasio’s statement reads. “We once again urge swift approval by the entire legislature of this proven governance structure.”

The three-year extension is seen by many as a concession to Senate Republicans. Some Democrats privately worry that Senate Republicans will push for another single-year extension - something Gov. Andrew Cuomo, locked in an ongoing feud with de Blasio, would likely support, as he did last year.

“I was very surprised to hear Senator Flanagan’s assessment of the mayor’s testimony mainly because he didn't attend the hearing,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan, who questioned the mayor at the hearing. “I thought the mayor was on point, answered directly, and seemed to have command of the issues. I was gratified following the hearing that some of my Republicans colleagues agreed.”

Hoylman said Flanagan's statement, “made it pretty obvious this has little to do with the well-being of 1.1 million public school kids and has become a proverbial political football.”

Sen. Liz Krueger, also a Manhattan Democrat, expressed a similar take on Flanagan’s statement. Saying it “did not seem to reflect my observations at the hearing, nor my discussions with senators in attendance. I think there was general agreement between Democrats and Republicans that the mayor and his team did an excellent job answering questions. And they all supported mayoral control.”

De Blasio was flanked in Albany by city Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, who will be at the center of attention on Thursday, as well as aides.

Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino, the education committee chair who oversaw the hearings in a steady fashion, did not return requests for comment; neither did Flanagan’s office.

Hoylman said he has yet to decide whether he will attend the next hearing, saying he has concerns they are a “kangaroo court.”

Krueger expressed her concerns about the process by which people were invited to testify. She and Hoylman said they had heard from parents and parent groups who were told they could not testify in person and were asked to submit testimony.

“I hope that the people who testify at round two of the hearing represent parents, teachers, principals and local elected officials,” said Krueger. “They were not heard in Albany at Round 1.” After de Blasio and Farina, many of the speakers at the first hearing were tied to charter schools, which are largely supported by Senate Republicans. De Blasio has been the target of protests and campaigns by charter groups because he has not been a supporter of charter schools and sought to limit their growth.

Shino Tanikawa, president of Community Education Council District 2, said she has made multiple attempts to testify as a parent at the upcoming hearing, contacting Marcellino’s office as well as a number of other legislators. She said the last communication was from Marcellino’s office telling her she could submit written testimony. She’s given up on testifying in person.

Tanikawa said she has been put off by the entire process. “The Albany hearing was very skewed because you had quite a few people in support of charter schools,” said Tanikawa. “I don't think there were any parents at the hearing. This next one seems pretty opaque, all we know is there is a hearing. We don’t know who is testifying or how long it's going to last.” (One of the charter school supporters who testified in Albany is a parent who also helps lead a pro-charter group.)

Tanikawa wondered why the hearing isn’t held in the fashion of the City Council where testimony is open to the public and those who sign up to testify do so under a specified time limit.

Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, will be testifying at Thursday’s hearing, but she is also disheartened by the process. “I’m very concerned that this has turned into a political football,” Haimson told Gotham Gazette of mayoral control of schools. “Many parents were against mayoral control under Bloomberg and they still are against it now under Bill de Blasio. This is about a system, but the Legislature seems to change their minds depending on who's in office. They don’t care that it leads to irrational policy and unwise spending.”

Haimson was not impressed with the level of questioning at the first hearing, saying it was tangential and without much substance. “I don’t think Albany has much to say about New York City’s schools. They should stay out of it. It would be better if it were up to the [City] Council, people who serve closer to the people. There is no reason this decision should be made upstate.”

On Wednesday afternoon, de Blasio will lead a press conference at City Hall with business leaders who support an extension of mayoral control.

Sen. Hoylman said that although he is appreciative that the Senate is actually holding a hearing on an important legislative issue he is concerned these hearings are being used as political leverage.

“I think it is the height of hypocrisy that they authorized the previous mayor twice because of an increase in test scores and graduation rates and that's exactly seen under Mayor de Blasio’s tenure. This is clearly an application of a double standard and I wouldn't be so upset if I wasn’t a city resident with a five-year-old in public school myself. The fact that we have non-New York city legislators without kids deciding who is overseeing this system makes no sense. Hearing from parents in the system is crucial to understanding its efficacy.”

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this story has been updated with news that de Blasio will not be testifying at Thursday's hearing and with comment from Sen. Flanagan.

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Concerns Over Proceedings as De Blasio Administration Faces Second Mayoral Control Hearing Tue, 17 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
An Office of Civil Rights for New York Education http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6340:an-office-of-civil-rights-for-new-york-education http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6340:an-office-of-civil-rights-for-new-york-education king school visit table

U.S. Education Secretary John King (photo via USDOE on flickr)


Educational civil rights in New York are once again front and center.

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA calls New York City the most segregated school district in the country.

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones in her award winning This American Life podcast, "The Problem We All Live With," documented the toxic racism embedded in Americans’ assumption of school district autonomy, no less a problem here.

In "School Money: The Cost of Opportunity," NPR similarly reported in detail how district property taxes stoke profound inequities in school spending, long identified as a key issue in New York.

All students should have the opportunity to attend integrated, well-resourced schools. Yet, instead of our leaders saying "the buck stops here" and meaning it, today's dime-store impostors continually pass the buck to those least able to tackle this crisis.

Ex-New York State Education Commissioner, now Secretary of Education John King is reported saying "local policymakers are the ones with the real power to integrate schools."

New New York Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa announced last week, regarding desegregation, that “I believe this is one that has to be done at the local level versus being mandated."

Most memorably, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina argued that desegregation should occur "organically" and more recently said not she, but community district superintendents and principals, should engage local real estate agents to solve the problem. "One of the things I’ve recommended to superintendents is have breakfast with your real estate agent, particularly the real-estate agents in the new developments going up,” she said at a community forum where she also suggested better school public relations might be a useful tool.

Huh?

That these officials are a black male and two Latinas may mean civil rights don’t matter anymore. But the research cited by UCLA, Hannah-Jones, NPR, and other sources says otherwise. In yet another study on the long term effects of desegregation and school quality announced last Wednesday, researchers found court-ordered school desegregation did not affect outcomes for whites, it significantly improved the adult attainment of blacks born between 1950 and 1975.

King, Rosa, and Farina -- and their respective partners in perpetuating segregation: President Barack Obama, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, and Mayor Bill de Blasio -- seem to accept this in their statements. Civil rights do matter. They just don't want to tackle it. Too hot to handle. 

But we in New York have an urgent need to face this problem and it won't be solved "organically" because it wasn't created organically. Segregation by race and class is baked into our atomized system of over 700 state school districts and the city's community school districts. Our schools are hard-wired for segregation. Our political system then doubles down on this geographic inequity by imposing an educational finance system that rewards haves over have nots.

No less than a complete upheaval of American public education will change these facts and their unacceptable consequences. But an important if partial fix is available to New Yorkers, modeled on the federal Office of Civil Rights. OCR, part of the U.S. Education Department with enforcement ties to the Department of Justice, takes citizen complaints and embarks on its own investigations to remedy individual instances of inequity. New York's State Education Department should create such an office, tied to the enforcement arm of the state Attorney General.

This won’t solve our overall problem of segregation and inequity. But we need to take the denial of educational civil rights out of the hands of political cowards and create an agency the mission of which is to correct these wrongs. And in so doing we will attack the overall problem bit by bit. Black, Latino, and low-income students need this help. Asian students need this help. Special needs students need this help. Orthodox Jewish students need this help.

We all need this help.

***
David C. Bloomfield is Professor of Education Leadership, Law, and Policy at Brooklyn College and The CUNY Graduate Center. The third edition of his book, American Public Education Law, will be published this summer. He is on Twitter @BloomfieldDavid.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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An Office of Civil Rights for New York Education Tue, 17 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
In Albany, De Blasio Argues for Mayoral Control Extension http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6320:in-albany-de-blasio-argues-for-extension-of-mayoral-control http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6320:in-albany-de-blasio-argues-for-extension-of-mayoral-control de blasio testimony senate

De Blasio testifies in Albany (photo via @KellyCummings)


Mayor Bill de Blasio received a generally friendly welcome from Senate Republicans throughout several hours of testimony in Albany on Wednesday during a hearing on mayoral control of city schools. De Blasio was peppered with questions regarding issues such as special education, charter school co-locations, mental health services, and school space, but the issue of mayoral control as a governance structure was addressed head on only in limited doses.

For his part, de Blasio touted gains in graduation rates and test scores, he spoke of the growth of universal pre-kindergarten and community schools and explained new goals around literacy rates and computer science courses. He even pointed to the number of weak teachers let go during his administration. The mayor was flanked by his schools chancellor, Carmen Farina, who often added specifics to bolster the mayor’s argument or answer questions from legislators.

The hearing could have come at a better time for the mayor - Senate Republicans have recently seized on news of investigations facing de Blasio around his involvement in 2014 efforts to win the chamber for Democrats. De Blasio has been plagued by a series of investigations by federal, state, and city authorities into his fundraising practices.

Sen. Terrence Murphy was the only Senate Republican to bring up the matter during the hearing. "Why I should vote for mayoral control with all the allegations that are going on in your office?" Murphy asked de Blasio.

De Blasio asked Murphy to consider facts such as a 70 percent graduation rate and other successes, adding, “We don't literally know of any other alternative.” De Blasio addressed the allegations saying, "In a democracy, we don't judge by allegations, we judge by facts." Murphy countered that “trust” was still an issue.

De Blasio has served as an electoral boogeyman for Senate Republicans across the state for the last two years, but tensions have heightened in the wake of the investigations and the results of a special election on Long Island where Democrats won the seat that was long held by former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Bad feelings, largely emanating from de Blasio’s involvement in the 2014 election cycle, resulted in a one-year extension of mayoral control last year. De Blasio cried foul pointing out his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was granted a seven-year extension.

This year, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan insisted mayoral control not be addressed as part of the state budget, an agreement on which was reached March 31, and invited de Blasio to testify at two public hearings. The second will be May 19 in New York City.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly has advocated a seven-year extension, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed three. At the end of his opening testimony, during which he highlighted his long support for mayoral control of city schools and the bipartisan nature of overall support, de Blasio asked for a seven-year extension.

Wednesday’s hearing was more dominated by specific concerns from Democrats about schools in their districts than any hostility from Senate Republicans. Education committee chair Sen. Carl Marcellino led the hearing with little fanfare, asking substantive questions and attempting to keep things focused and moving.

In his preparation for renewal this year de Blasio has referenced his predecessors and support from business groups in an attempt to paint the issue as non-partisan. It was a note he repeatedly hit during Wednesday’s hearing.

“We are in lockstep on mayoral control,” de Blasio said referring to Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. “It's a system that is superior to what we had before and there is no third way.”

Marcellino, a Long Island Republican like Flanagan, who was his predecessor as education chair, began the hearing by bluntly asking de Blasio about his previous stance on mayoral control. “There was point in time you didn't think highly of mayoral control, why did you change your mind?”

De Blasio quickly countered that his voting record demonstrates his support of the system, but said that he had been concerned in the past about parental involvement.

With that out of the way de Blasio delivered prepared testimony where he touted a familiar list of achievements including the city reaching 70 percent graduation rates for first time in its history; the enrollment of 68,000 students in pre-K, and a commitment to new goals and standards. De Blasio repeatedly thanked legislators for their support, specifically pointing to their approval of funding for pre-K.

There were a few moments of drama.

Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, who is elected as a Democrat but caucuses with Republicans, complained of being ignored by the administration and demanded de Blasio promise to ease the process by which parents of students with special needs are ensured of an appropriate learning environment for their children by the beginning of the next school year. De Blasio commiserated with Felder on the importance of the issue, but declined to make such a broad promise. He did, however, commit to providing Felder with a letter describing what progress the city does intend to make. Felder appeared satisfied by the end of the exchange.

A number of Democrats including Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, a Brooklyn Democrat, appeared to urge de Blasio to distance himself from Bloomberg’s legacy on mayoral control but de Blasio declined, saying that he felt there had been “undeniable” progress made under Bloomberg, though he did note he thought recent improvements had been made to parental involvement.

De Blasio spoke carefully on the subject of charter schools, even while being offered several chances to criticize them by Senator Bill Perkins, a Manhattan Democrat who asked a series of charter-related questions. The mayor repeated his recent public opinions on charters by saying that they must enroll a student body representative of their surrounding areas and retain challenging students while also saying that the administration is working well with many charter schools.

Marcellino reminded Perkins that it was a hearing on mayoral control, not charter schools and Perkins explained that charters are a key piece of education policy, having noted that under Mayor Bloomberg charters began to proliferate in his district.

Gov. Cuomo and Senate Republicans have been very supportive of charter schools in the past, while de Blasio has often battled with the most high-profile charter network, Success Academy.

The individuals testifying immediately following de Blasio and Farina were tied to charter schools in various ways. They complained of the mayor’s treatment of the schools and expressed support for limiting the renewal of mayoral control. They noted that charter schools are subject to renewal after lengths of terms varying from five, two, or even one year. Testimony was by invitation only. A number of Democratic Senators said they had heard from parent groups that had requested to testify but were denied.

In one of the only direct questions regarding the city’s school governance system, Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, asked de Blasio what it would mean to have mayoral control renewed on a one-year basis.

“It creates instability,” said de Blasio, who added that it impacts larger initiatives to improve schools over a span of years. “It is a disservice to our children if we don't even know what our governance will be in a year. It doesn't allow us to achieve what we need to achieve.”

De Blasio and Farina both returned to a theme over their three hours of testimony that they haven’t been presented with an actual alternative to mayoral control. “To what end,” de Blasio asked of frequent debates over the system. “If there was an alternative on the table that is better I would debate it any day.”

Krueger suggested that perhaps the Legislature shouldn’t meddle in city school issues given that a lot of the issues discussed during the hearings including co-location and school space required hyper-local knowledge. “There are certain roles for the state Legislature that are important, there are others that we have to leave alone,” said Krueger.

De Blasio appeared to distance himself from that assertion. “We should be in regular dialogue,” he said. “There should be a partnership. We honor that fact and we want to be in regular communication about how we do things together.”

The mayor took a firm, but collaborative and deferential tone for most of the hearing, appearing to understand his audience and its power. He also surely knows, though, that Gov. Cuomo will have a lot of influence over the fate of mayoral control when the governor and legislative leaders negotiate any policy between now and the end of the session in June.

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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In Albany, De Blasio Argues for Mayoral Control Extension Wed, 04 May 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Senate Schedules De Blasio for Two Hearings on Mayoral Control of City Schools http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6241:senate-schedules-de-blasio-for-two-hearings-on-mayoral-control-of-city-schools http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6241:senate-schedules-de-blasio-for-two-hearings-on-mayoral-control-of-city-schools bdb school visit

De Blasio makes a school appearance (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


The New York State Senate announced on Thursday afternoon that it has scheduled two hearings on mayoral control of New York City schools. Republicans who control the chamber have questioned Mayor Bill de Blasio's education policies, which are far different from his predecessor's, and only agreed to a one-year extension last year.

Mayoral control is set to expire June 30, and the two hearings - one in Albany and one in New York City - will occur in May. In his Executive Budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a three-year extension, while the Democrat-controlled Assembly called for seven years in its one-house budget. The Senate included no extension in its and appears to have concluded that mayoral control will be dealt with in the post-budget legislative session. The fiscal year 2017 state budget is due by the end of this month. The two hearings, at which de Blasio and his school chancellor Carmen Fariña are expected to appear, are scheduled for May 4 in Albany and May 19 in New York City.

State Senator Carl Marcellino, a Republican from Syosset, is chair of the education committee and will preside over the hearings. Marcellino replaced Senator John Flanagan as education chair when Flanagan became Majority Leader last year in the wake of former Senator Dean Skelos' corruption scandal. Flanagan has publicly questioned de Blasio's stewardship of the city's schools and said he expected to hold hearings on mayoral control.

"These hearings will provide an excellent opportunity to hear directly from Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña, and a variety of education professionals on the merits and pitfalls of mayoral control," Marcellino said in a statement announcing the hearings. "Without a detailed and thoughtful exchange, it is difficult to craft an extension that is in the best interests of New York City's students and teachers. I look forward to gathering testimony on the current state of the Mayor's education policy, where it is and its future."

Asked for reaction and whether de Blasio will appear at the hearings, a mayoral spokesperson did not indicate if the mayor will participate in both, but did send a statement implying that he will. "Mayoral Control has empowered parents to hold their mayor accountable for success in our schools," wrote Amy Spitalnick of the mayor's office. "There's broad consensus across educators, business leaders, and the political spectrum that Mayoral Control works. Mayor de Blasio looks forward to presenting his vision for equity and excellence in our public schools, and articulating why Mayoral Control is the governance model that will make it a reality."

When the Senate released its one-house budget earlier this month without an extension of mayoral control of schools, Gotham Gazette asked Mayor de Blasio for his reaction at an unrelated press conference, saying that it looked like the Senate Republicans planned to pursue hearings on the subject after the budget.

"Which I've told Leader Flanagan I would welcome," de Blasio said of hearings, "and I would participate in personally. I made that very clear to him this year and last year."

"I welcome that dialogue," de Blasio added. "We have the highest graduation rate that we've ever had in New York City – over 70 percent. We have full-day pre-k for all. We have after-school for all middle school kids. We're making unprecedented investments in education – computer science for all is going to be online more and more. I welcome that discussion, and I think we have a lot of evidence to show, and I can certainly say there's a real broad cross-section of New Yorkers, including in the business community, the labor community, obviously educators who believe in mayoral control. That's a discussion I would be happy to participate in."

When he was seeking an extension of mayoral control of city schools last year, de Blasio rolled out a number of supporters from a variety of parties, including business leaders who have often been supportive of charter schools, which the mayor has been cool, if not hostile, toward and represent a key issue for Senate Republicans.

In announcing the hearings, Flanagan said in a statement, "Mayoral control hearings are necessary to provide transparency, accountability, and a better understanding of the long-term vision for educating all of New York City's students. Senator Marcellino and the members of the education committee will seek information about what is being done to fix underperforming schools and other specific plans to improve and strengthen the city school system so that the state's examination of mayoral control is as comprehensive as possible."

Asked earlier this month if he had reached out to Flanagan, de Blasio referenced his meeting with the Senate leader during a January visit to Albany for Gov. Cuomo's State of the State address. "I've already sat down with him, obviously, and talked to him about this," de Blasio said. "I've certainly made my case to him. It was a very good, respectful meeting. I think he heard my points. I'm not saying he agreed with all of them, but he heard them. He knows a lot about education, obviously, from his own work on the education committee in the Senate. And I welcome a dialogue – I told him I would happily appear at a hearing any time he needs."

Mayoral control of city schools was first granted to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2002 and then extended. According to the state Senate, when it was renewed for six years in 2009, that decision came after "five hearings with more than 45 hours of testimony."

The Senate announcement sent out Thursday says that topics for the hearing will include "New York City's record of student performance, graduation rates, levels of college and career readiness; the effectiveness of having a single person accountable for the public school system as compared to the previous community board system; the implementation and performance of the pre-K system; coordination and cooperation with other public schools and private schools; and identifying educational issues in need of improvement. The hearing details are currently being finalized and once complete, the Committee will extend invitations to provide testimony."

De Blasio is sure to be asked about his approach to charter schools, as well as his Renewal Schools program that puts major investment of resources into the most struggling schools, seeking to avoid closing schools, which was a favored approach under Bloomberg. De Blasio is much more closely aligned with the teachers union than Bloomberg was - and Gov. Cuomo has largely been more in the Bloomberg camp on education policy, though he has shifted some over the last several months. De Blasio will certainly put his establishment of pre-kindergarten at the forefront.

The old system of education was under local school boards, which has been replaced by a centralized mayoral control, with the mayor appointing a chancellor and a majority of members to the Panel for Educational Policy, a decision-making board largely seen as a rubber stamp for the mayor and chancellor.

[Related: What is Flanagan Looking for From De Blasio on Mayoral Control?]

[Related: Flanked by Business Leaders, De Blasio Continues Mayoral Control Push]

***
by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Senate Schedules De Blasio for Two Hearings on Mayoral Control of City Schools Thu, 24 Mar 2016 21:28:29 +0000
The Week That Was in New York Politics, Jan. 25-29 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6125:the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-jan-25-29 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6125:the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-jan-25-29 week in review bus readers

photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday January 29

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio and others during last weekend's blizzard, via The Mayor's Office on flickr; De Blasio testifies in Albany, also via The Mayor's Office;

de blasio blizzard others

bdb testifying albany clock

TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:
1. De Blasio in Albany:
Mayor de Blasio was in Albany on Tuesday to testify before the state legislature on Governor Cuomo’s proposed state budget and to lay out New York City’s financial priorities. Yet the mayor wasn’t able to focus much of his nearly five-hour testimony on issues with the governor’s budget proposals or affordable housing, mayoral control of schools, or other issues important to him, and instead was left to defend the city’s spending, tax policies, and his refusal to agree to a property tax cap. [Read: De Blasio Heads to Albany to Fund Agenda, Fight Cuts & In Albany, State Senators Ambush De Blasio on Property Tax Reform]

2. Pay Raise and Reforms for City Council: On Wednesday, February 3, the City Council will hold a hearing on legislation outlining salary increases for all of the city’s elected officials, as well as several good government reforms related to how Council members operate and are compensated. Details of the package were announced late Thursday evening, and the Council intends to raise their salary even higher than the commission tasked with reviewing the compensation levels of electeds recommended. [Read: City Council Announces Bill to Increase Pay, Reform Position]

3. Education Testimony: Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña made the case for long-term extension of mayoral control of schools once again as she testified before state lawmakers on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia testified for a streamlined statewide pre-k program, professional development, and full and fair funding of public schools, reminded lawmakers that Governor Cuomo’s budget is $1.4 billion short of what the Board of Regents requested, and said that this year’s state standardized tests for 3-8 graders will not be timed.

4. Council Considers Decriminalization: A package of bills was introduced in the City Council on Monday which would change the way the city deals with low-level, quality-of-life offenses, such a public urination and littering. The move would encourage civil penalties, rather than arrests or criminal summonses for certain low-level, nonviolent offenses.

5. Snow Storm Scrutiny: Blizzard Jonas dumped 26.8 inches of snow in New York City over the weekend, leading Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to declare a state of emergency and (separately) impose travel bans during the worst hours of the storm. De Blasio’s handling of the storm was generally met with praise, though some Queens residents and elected officials criticized the city for under-plowing streets in certain areas of the borough.

THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS:
26.8 inches of snow fell in Central Park during snowstorm Jonas, making it the biggest storm since 1869, the New York Times reports.

32% salary increase for Council members, up to $148,500 from 112,500, outlined in legislation announced by the Council Thursday evening, Gotham Gazette reports.

4 days will be spent campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Iowa by Mayor de Blasio this weekend, the Daily News reports.

6 minutes after a neighbor called 911, Officer Liang radioed for help following the shooting of Akai Gurley in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project, the New York Times reports.

8.875% sales tax on feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads could be scrapped, as the City Council will soon pass a resolution calling on the state to pass a bill introduced in the Assembly to eliminate the so-called ‘tampon tax,’ Gotham Gazette reports

95 ethnic newspapers in New York have a combined circulation of about 2.9 million people, more than one-third of the city’s population, yet little of the city’s advertising budget goes to ethnic media, Gotham Gazette reports.

200-plus educators received erroneous scores from New York State on a measurement that ties how well their students do on tests to their performances, the New York Times reports.

THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:
It was a good week for
new State Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Catharine Young, who is providing over legislative budget hearings and led an especially tough grilling of Mayor de Blasio.

It was a bad week for City Council members, who are facing criticism for both the size of the raises and the timing of the vote on the legislation that will give them that raise, with some saying it seems Council members have agreed to back de Blasio’s controversial plan to limit the horse-carriage industry in exchange for his approval of their larger raises.

THE FLASH:
Around this time 41 years ago
, on January 24, 1975, four people were killed when a bomb exploded outside historic Fraunces Tavern in downtown Manhattan.

GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
City Council Announces Bill to Increase Pay, Reform Position, by Ben Max

City Council Members Move to Improve Tampon Access, by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max

Just Ahead of Oversight Hearing, City Announces Ethnic Media Plan, by Samar Khurshid

Council to Examine City Support for Ethnic Media, by Samar Khurshid

In Albany, State Senators Ambush De Blasio on Property Tax Reform, by David Howard King

De Blasio Heads to Albany to Fund Agenda, Fight Cuts, by Ben Max

Green Jobs Gone Missing, by Jarrett Murphy (City Limits)

The Numbers on NYC's Property Tax Non-Problem, by Jarrett Murphy (City Limits)

Time to Support New York Students with Billions Still Owed from Campaign for Fiscal Equity, by Council Member Daniel Dromm (opinion)

Criminal Justice Reform Act is No Alternative to Broken Windows Policing, by Alex S. Vitale (opinion)

Common Core Mistakes Worth Not Repeating, by Stephen Sigmund and Denise Toscano (opinion)

Give New York Manufacturers the Space They Need, by Matthew Rigney (opinion)

MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:
Gotham Gazette Executive Editor Ben Max appeared on Inside City Hall along with Politico New York’s Gloria Pazmino, DNA Info’s Jeff Mays, and Ginia Bellafante from the New York Times to speak with Errol Louis about the horse-carriage deal and the mayor’s preliminary budget.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito appeared on WNYC on Thursday to speak with Brian Lehrer about the proposed Criminal Justice Reform Act, which will encourage officers to issue civil offenses, rather than criminal offenses, for some low-level quality-of-life violations.

Mayor de Blasio spoke with Brian Lehrer on WNYC Friday about his plans to campaign for Hillary Clinton over the weekend, housing plans, pedicab drivers, crime, and the Council’s legislation to reform their position and raise the salaries of all of New York City’s elected officials.

Chair of the Committee on Public Safety Vanessa Gibson and chair of the Committee on Courts and Legal Services Rory Lancman joined Errol Louis on Inside City Hall to discuss reforms being in considered in the Council to change the way low-level offenses are handled by the NYPD. 

***
NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle @GothamGazette.

If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com

Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here. And have a great weekend!

***
by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max

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The Week That Was in New York Politics, Jan. 25-29 Fri, 29 Jan 2016 19:21:05 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, October 26 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5949:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-october-26-2015 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5949:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-october-26-2015 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

This week will be dominated by the World Series, we know that. The New York Mets begin their quest for the title against the Royals in Kansas City on Tuesday night, followed by another game in KC on Wednesday and then games in Queens on Friday, Saturday, and, if necessary, Sunday. If the series continues, games six and seven would be the following Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 3 and 4) back in Kansas City. On Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a wager over the series, with the loser having to wear the jersey of the winning team to work for a day. There are other aspects of the bet, too, with significant home-state items to be sent from loser to winner.

Now, on to politics sans sport.

It was a quiet political weekend. Mayor de Blasio, City Council Member Dan Garodnick, and others touted the new Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village sales deal to the complex's tenant association on Saturday afternoon. [Read CM Garodnick's thoughts on the sale in this Gotham Gazette op-ed]

On Monday, de Blasio has no public events scheduled. Governor Cuomo is in New York City Monday, though, to make an announcement at 1:30 p.m. at Chelsea Piers.

There is a lot happening Monday and beyond. Services will occur this week to honor Police Officer Randolph Holder, who was killed on October 20. As has been the case since Holder was shot and killed, criminal justice reform and policing are sure to be sources of significant attention this week.

Thursday is the three-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy hitting New York; there are sure to be both rememberances of the people and property lost, as well as assessments of progress made in recovering from Sandy and preparing for the next big storm.

See our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

Monday
At the City Council on Monday:

  • At 10 a.m. the Committee on Consumer Affairs will meet to discuss a bill that would ban the sale of personal care products or over the counter drugs that contain microbeads, as well as pass a resolution on the Microbeads-free Waters Acts.
  • At 1 p.m. the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet to discuss bills related to the use of biodiesel.

On Monday morning, current and former elected officials and others will honor recently-retired former Assemblymember Joan Millman. Comptroller Scott Stringer is among those who will speak.

At 12:30 p.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will visit the High School of Fashion Industries to kick off College Application Week and make an announcement.

On Monday at 1 p.m. at City Hall, Congressional Rep. Nydia Velazquez will announce new legislation aimed at reducing the number of guns in New York and nationwide. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries; Public Advocate Letitia James; Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams; Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson; Leah Gunn Barrett, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence; and NYC families impacted by gun violence will also participate.

At 3 p.m. Monday, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a Hometown Rally to cheer on the Mets as they start Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night in Kansas City. Other elected officials, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Letitia James are set to participate.

Later, Mark-Viverito will speak at the 2015 Roy & Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government, where she and the City Council are receiving an award for their Participatory Budgeting program. [Read more about the award and the participatory budgeting program in our new in-depth report: Participatory Budgeting Grows in NYC - Why Isn't Every Council Member Doing It?]

Then, Mark-Viverito "speaks at 2015 Shine Event for LGBT Immigration Equality."

At 7 p.m. Monday the Bronx Young Democrats will discuss the achievements and current initiatives of young female Bronx leaders. The event will feature Darcel Clark, Democratic candidate for Bronx District Attorney; City Council Member Vanessa Gibson; State Assemblymember Latoya Joyner; and Marsha Michael, Attorney & Law Clerk.

At 7:15 p.m. the Immigration Equality event “SHINE”, celebrating women’s leadership in in the LGBT community, will honor City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and  Denise Chambers, Immigration Equality client and asylum winner from Trinidad.

On Monday evening, several uptown Manhattan Democratic clubs are hosting Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for a discussion of relevant issues. City Council Member Mark Levine will also participate in the dialogue.

Monday evening is the Riders Alliance gala. Public Advocate Letitia James is among those set to attend.

Monday’s City Council Participatory Budgeting event: CM Mark Treyger (District 47, Brooklyn) 6 p.m.

Tuesday
On Tuesday, at 8:30 a.m., Stroock, the public affairs law firm, will host a Government Leadership forum  “What is the Future of Organized Labor?” Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council; Gregory Floyd, President of Local 237 Teamsters; Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers; and Harry Nespoli, President of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association will be on the panel. Robert Abrams, former New York State Attorney General and Chair of Stroock's Government Relations Practice Group, and Alan M. Klinger, Co-Managing Partner and Co-Chair of Stroock's Litigation Practice Group, will moderate.

On Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is in Westchester County meeting with elected officials and touring different areas.

At 10:30 a.m. the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) will meet on a number of matters including its ongoing search for a new Executive Director.

At 11 a.m. Vocal-NY, City Council Member Jumaane Williams, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and others will hold the Fair Chance Rally. The purpose of the rally is to raise awareness about the Fair Chance Act, which makes it illegal for New York City employers to ask about one’s criminal record until after a job offer is made, and is going into effect.

At the New York State Legislature on Tuesday: the Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation and Assembly Climate Change Work Group will have a roundtable discussion on Climate Change.

At the City Council on Tuesday: at 11 a.m. the Committee on Women’s Issues; the Committee on Health; and the Committee on Education will meet for a joint oversight hearing on sex education in NYC schools. They will discuss three bills that would: require the Department of Education to provide a report on student health services to the Council; require the DOE to report annually on information about health education and HIV/AIDS education for students in grades six through twelve; require the DOE to submit an annual report on the sexual health education received by instructors in public middle and high schools.

Prior to that City Council hearing, at 10 a.m., there will be a "press conference to call for comprehensive sex education in NYC schools" led by Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Chair of the Committee on Women's Issues; Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education; and Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health; as well as representatives from Planned Parenthood of New York City; NARAL Pro-Choice New York; New York Civil Liberties Union; and Reproductive Healthcare Advocates.

On Tuesday at 2 p.m. at 250 Broadway, "State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), together with Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Annabel Palma and Make the Road New York, will release a bombshell investigative report "The American Scheme: Herbalife's Pyramid 'Shake'down.""

At 4 p.m. Safe Passage Project will hold an event composed of two parts. The first will be discussing the unmet needs of recent migrant children and young parent from Central America. City Council Member Rory Lancman will make opening remarks. There will be multiple related panel discussions thereafter.

Tuesday evening, Governor Cuomo is set to deliver remarks at the Business Council of Westchester’s Annual Dinner.

At 6 p.m. the city Panel for Educational Policy will have a public meeting in Manhattan. At the event the Chancellor will give an update on current policies and the panel will discuss a number of important topics including: Race and Diversity in School Admission, Aggregation of Community District Budgets Together with a Proposed Budget for Administrative Expenditures of the City Board and the Chancellor, and more; while also taking public comment.

At 6:30 p.m. during The Hispanic Leadership Awards, City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer will lead a celebration honoring several people for their outstanding leadership in the Latino community, including Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who will receive a Distinguished Public Service Award.  

At 7 p.m. City Council Members Donovan Richards and I. Daneek Miller will hold a Southeast Queens Transportation Town Hall. Representatives from DOT, MTA, TLC, and NYPD will attend.

Tuesday’s City Council Participatory Budgeting events:

  • CM Mathieu Eugene (District 40, Brooklyn) 6:30 p.m.
  • CM Paul Vallone (District 19, Queens) 7 p.m.

Wednesday
At the New York State Legislature on Wednesday: The Assembly Standing Committee on Aging along with the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, the Assembly Subcommittee on Community Integration, and the Assembly Subcommittee on Outreach and Oversight of Senior Citizen Programs, will hold a joint public hearing regarding the “New York State Office for the Aging’s study on the benefits of creating an office of community living”

At 6:30 p.m. several groups host “Why She Ran: A Conversation With Women in Politics” discussing the challenges women face in New York politics and encouraging women to run for office. Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Julissa Ferreras, and Council Member Helen Rosenthal will speak at the event. Sponsors of the event include the Working Families Party, Eleanor's Legacy, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Higher Heights for America, Ladies of Labor, Shirley Chisholm Institute, NOW-NYS, Women's Organizing Network, and WIN NYC.

Also at 6:30 p.m., school district 3 will host a Town Hall meeting with Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

Wednesday’s City Council Participatory Budgeting events:

  • CM Paul Vallone (District 19, Queens) 6 p.m.
  • CM Melissa Mark-Viverito (District 8, Manhattan/Bronx) 6 p.m.
  • CM Helen Rosenthal (District 6, Manhattan) 6 p.m.
  • CM Ritchie Torres (District 15, Bronx) time TBA
  • CM Eric Ulrich (District 32, Queens) 8 p.m.
  • CM Paul Vallone (District 19, Queens) 7 p.m.
  • CM Jumaane D. Williams (District 45, Brooklyn) 6:30 p.m.

Thursday
On Thursday beginning at 8:30 a.m. the Urban Land Institute will hold a conference about the best new practices to help fund public transportation infrastructure in the New York metro area in the face of withering public funding, including solutions through partnerships with the private sector.

At the City Council on Thursday:

  • At 10:30 a.m. the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections will meet to hear communication from Orlando Marin of the City Planning Commission
  • At 1:30 p.m. will be a City Council Stated Meeting; prefaced, as always, by the Speaker’s pre-stated press conference at 12:30 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m. United States Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates will discuss the administration’s top goals and priorities at the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School; following the speech will be a Q&A session.

At 5:30 p.m. The Hopkins-Hunter Forum for Education Policy, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and The Hunter College Gifted and Talented Program will host “The Excellence Gap: The State of Gifted and Talented Education,” an event that will discuss the income based education gap among students, and talk about suggestions on how to address the issue in the future.

At 6 p.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio will be hosting a fundraiser for his 2017 campaign, as reported by Politico New York.

Thursday’s City Council Participatory Budgeting events:

  • CM Mathieu Eugene (District 40, Brooklyn) 6:30 p.m.
  • CM Corey Johnson (District 3, Manhattan) 4:30 p.m.
  • CM Donovan Richards (District 31, Queens) time TBA
  • CM Paul Vallone (District 19, Queens) 7 p.m.

Friday and the weekend
On Saturday and Sunday, Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will hold two Spooky Parties at Gracie Mansion, inviting families with children 5-10 years old to come tour their haunted house. Families must have tickets through the ticket giveaway being held prior to the event.

On Sunday at 2 p.m. a large group of Democratic political clubs and progressive organizations will hold a Democratic Party Presidential Candidate Forum. Representatives from the Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley and Lessing campaigns will participate.. The forum will be moderated by Ronnie Eldridge.

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Colin O'Connor, Konstantine Beridze, and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, October 26 Sun, 25 Oct 2015 05:00:00 +0000