Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/michael-bloomberg 2017-10-17T09:51:50+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Across the Country, Bloomberg’s Election Investments Largely Successful 2016-11-13T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-13T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6623:across-the-country-bloomberg-s-election-investments-largely-successful Ben Max <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/bloomberg_voted_1.jpg" alt="bloomberg voted 1" width="600" height="443" /></p> <p>Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Election Day in New York (via @MikeBloomberg)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made national headlines when the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent gave a primetime speech at this summer’s Democratic National Convention, during which he excoriated Donald Trump, then the Republican nominee for President and now president-elect, and outlined his support for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.</p> <p dir="ltr">While Bloomberg’s choice at the top of the ballot did not go the way he wanted, the former mayor made a variety of other investments in people and policies that mostly did do well on Election Day. These include candidates for elected office from both major parties as well as state and local ballot initiatives related to gun control, charter schools, and public health.</p> <p dir="ltr">For years, Bloomberg has used his considerable wealth to bankroll causes and candidates around the country. And this year, the three-term mayor and billionaire business mogul is seeing a good deal of return on investment.</p> <p dir="ltr">The day before the election, <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/bloomberg-new-york-donor-230861" target="_blank">Politico reported</a> that Bloomberg had directed at least $65 million to individuals and policy points on the ballot November 8. In true Bloomberg form, his support cut across party lines and initiatives that sometimes even divide liberals and conservatives within their own ranks. As Bloomberg spokesperson Marc La Vorgna pointed out in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette, the former mayor’s “beliefs don’t fit neatly in any partisan playbook.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg’s spending was overwhelmingly for issue campaigns and ballot measures, with smaller amounts given to candidate campaigns, according to a tally provided by La Vorgna. &nbsp;It included U.S. Senate and House races, local elected positions and ballot measures ranging from education to gun control. In a majority, Bloomberg got the result that he wanted.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Overall, it was a very successful cycle,” said La Vorgna. “[Bloomberg] puts his contributions in a place where he can move the needle and have an impact, instead of just dumping money in races which are already well-funded.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Even the large amounts spent for or against candidates was in part based on Bloomberg’s support of their record on particular issues. In the money-rich presidential race, Bloomberg made no monetary contribution even though he fervently supported Clinton. “We thought the speech would be more powerful if it stood on its own,” La Vorgna explained of the DNC address.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg spent nearly $15 million through his PAC, Independence USA, on Senate races because of his support for background checks for gun purchases. Of that, $6 million went to ads in favor of Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey, who was successfully re-elected in Pennsylvania. Similarly, Bloomberg supported Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s successful bid for the Senate from New Hampshire, with $8.5 million in ads through the PAC and a $1 million donation to Planned Parenthood Votes, which supported her race. Hassan narrowly beat her Republican opponent, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, whose record on gun control prompted Bloomberg’s involvement in the race.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Bloomberg-founded Everytown for Gun Safety campaign spent $21.5 million and Bloomberg himself spent $3.5 million on the passage of background check referendums in Nevada, Washington, and Maine, the last of which is the only one that failed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg also celebrated success on numerous soda tax initiatives, an issue that he failed to implement in New York City as mayor but has since been promoting across the country. “He has made a commitment, one that he has held to, to stay out of New York politics,” La Vorgna said. “I expect that will remain the case.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With full accounting for this cycle, Bloomberg will have personally spent nearly $20 million on the two soda tax ballot initiatives in Oakland and San Francisco, CA, both of which passed. He also contributed $200,000 to Healthier Colorado, an issue-advocacy nonprofit, on promoting a soda tax in Boulder, which was also victorious.</p> <p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, Bloomberg spent about $1.6 million to support Philadelphia’s soda tax measure, which passed in June. He also paid for television and digital ads worth $1 million in Cook County, Illinois to support its proposed levy on sugary beverages. The Cook County Board voted on Thursday, two days after the election, to pass the tax.</p> <p dir="ltr">As a strong proponent of charter schools, Bloomberg funded pro-charter education initiatives to the tune of $1.34 million. He donated $490,000 to the Great Schools Massachusetts ballot committee which was fighting for a ballot measure that would lift a cap on charter schools. The measure was rejected by Massachusetts voters. He donated $50,000 to the DFER [Democrats for Education Reform] Louisiana PAC to support candidates for the Orleans Parish School Board that were in favor of charters. The two candidates were re-elected to the board.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another $500,000 went to the California Charter Schools Association to promote pro-charter candidates in races for the California State Assembly, State Senate and Oakland School Board. The remaining $300,000 helped support Families and Educators for Public Education, an education reform PAC sponsored by GO Public Schools, which favored candidates running for the Oakland School Board.</p> <p dir="ltr">Besides backing Toomey and Hassan, Bloomberg also helped 16 other candidates in various state races through contributions, fundraisers and independent expenditures via his PAC. Most of those candidates were triumphant on Election Day. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">He donated $5,400 each to the campaigns of Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, also hosting a fundraiser for Kirk. Bennet was reelected but Kirk was defeated by Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg hosted fundraisers and contributed $2,700, the maximum allowable donation in the general election, to both Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was reelected, and Kamala Harris in California, who became the first Indian-American U.S. Senator by beating Loretta Sanchez, a fellow Democrat. (California has a top-two primary system and candidates from the same party can often end up facing off in the general).</p> <p dir="ltr">In six House races, Bloomberg had varying degrees of involvement, including some in New York. He donated $5,400 each to the campaigns of Anna Throne-Holst, Seth Moulton, Pete King and Joe Crowley, and gave $2,700 to Daniel Donovan. He hosted fundraisers for Throne-Holst, Moulton, and Donovan, a Staten Island Republican. His PAC also released $585,000 worth of ads in favor of Val Demings, a Florida Democrat who won an open seat in the state’s 10th congressional district.</p> <p dir="ltr">Throne-Holst, a Democrat, was the only unsuccessful candidate, losing her bid for the House of Representatives from New York’s 1st congressional district. Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, ran unopposed for his seat. New York Representatives King, a Republican; Crowley, a Democrat; and Donovan, a Republican; were all reelected as well.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg also intervened in a number of gubernatorial races. He dedicated $250,000 each to three campaigns -- Kate Brown, governor of Oregon; Roy Cooper, a gubernatorial candidate in North Carolina; and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. He also hosted a fundraiser for Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island, who will be up for reelection in 2018. Brown and Inslee won their reelection races and Cooper was on his way to victory with votes in North Carolina remaining to be verified.</p> <p dir="ltr">In Pennsylvania, Bloomberg gave Josh Shapiro a $250,000 contribution for his campaign for attorney general, and Joe Torsella $50,000 to run for state treasurer. Both Democrats prevailed.</p> <p>“We’ve shown a very successful model here that we’re going to continue to expand on and innovate on as we move ahead,” said La Vorgna. “He’s going to continue to support issues and people that he believes in. That crosses party lines and crosses over in races at the federal, state and local levels.”</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/bloomberg_voted_1.jpg" alt="bloomberg voted 1" width="600" height="443" /></p> <p>Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Election Day in New York (via @MikeBloomberg)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made national headlines when the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent gave a primetime speech at this summer’s Democratic National Convention, during which he excoriated Donald Trump, then the Republican nominee for President and now president-elect, and outlined his support for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.</p> <p dir="ltr">While Bloomberg’s choice at the top of the ballot did not go the way he wanted, the former mayor made a variety of other investments in people and policies that mostly did do well on Election Day. These include candidates for elected office from both major parties as well as state and local ballot initiatives related to gun control, charter schools, and public health.</p> <p dir="ltr">For years, Bloomberg has used his considerable wealth to bankroll causes and candidates around the country. And this year, the three-term mayor and billionaire business mogul is seeing a good deal of return on investment.</p> <p dir="ltr">The day before the election, <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/bloomberg-new-york-donor-230861" target="_blank">Politico reported</a> that Bloomberg had directed at least $65 million to individuals and policy points on the ballot November 8. In true Bloomberg form, his support cut across party lines and initiatives that sometimes even divide liberals and conservatives within their own ranks. As Bloomberg spokesperson Marc La Vorgna pointed out in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette, the former mayor’s “beliefs don’t fit neatly in any partisan playbook.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg’s spending was overwhelmingly for issue campaigns and ballot measures, with smaller amounts given to candidate campaigns, according to a tally provided by La Vorgna. &nbsp;It included U.S. Senate and House races, local elected positions and ballot measures ranging from education to gun control. In a majority, Bloomberg got the result that he wanted.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Overall, it was a very successful cycle,” said La Vorgna. “[Bloomberg] puts his contributions in a place where he can move the needle and have an impact, instead of just dumping money in races which are already well-funded.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Even the large amounts spent for or against candidates was in part based on Bloomberg’s support of their record on particular issues. In the money-rich presidential race, Bloomberg made no monetary contribution even though he fervently supported Clinton. “We thought the speech would be more powerful if it stood on its own,” La Vorgna explained of the DNC address.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg spent nearly $15 million through his PAC, Independence USA, on Senate races because of his support for background checks for gun purchases. Of that, $6 million went to ads in favor of Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey, who was successfully re-elected in Pennsylvania. Similarly, Bloomberg supported Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s successful bid for the Senate from New Hampshire, with $8.5 million in ads through the PAC and a $1 million donation to Planned Parenthood Votes, which supported her race. Hassan narrowly beat her Republican opponent, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, whose record on gun control prompted Bloomberg’s involvement in the race.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Bloomberg-founded Everytown for Gun Safety campaign spent $21.5 million and Bloomberg himself spent $3.5 million on the passage of background check referendums in Nevada, Washington, and Maine, the last of which is the only one that failed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg also celebrated success on numerous soda tax initiatives, an issue that he failed to implement in New York City as mayor but has since been promoting across the country. “He has made a commitment, one that he has held to, to stay out of New York politics,” La Vorgna said. “I expect that will remain the case.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With full accounting for this cycle, Bloomberg will have personally spent nearly $20 million on the two soda tax ballot initiatives in Oakland and San Francisco, CA, both of which passed. He also contributed $200,000 to Healthier Colorado, an issue-advocacy nonprofit, on promoting a soda tax in Boulder, which was also victorious.</p> <p dir="ltr">Earlier this year, Bloomberg spent about $1.6 million to support Philadelphia’s soda tax measure, which passed in June. He also paid for television and digital ads worth $1 million in Cook County, Illinois to support its proposed levy on sugary beverages. The Cook County Board voted on Thursday, two days after the election, to pass the tax.</p> <p dir="ltr">As a strong proponent of charter schools, Bloomberg funded pro-charter education initiatives to the tune of $1.34 million. He donated $490,000 to the Great Schools Massachusetts ballot committee which was fighting for a ballot measure that would lift a cap on charter schools. The measure was rejected by Massachusetts voters. He donated $50,000 to the DFER [Democrats for Education Reform] Louisiana PAC to support candidates for the Orleans Parish School Board that were in favor of charters. The two candidates were re-elected to the board.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another $500,000 went to the California Charter Schools Association to promote pro-charter candidates in races for the California State Assembly, State Senate and Oakland School Board. The remaining $300,000 helped support Families and Educators for Public Education, an education reform PAC sponsored by GO Public Schools, which favored candidates running for the Oakland School Board.</p> <p dir="ltr">Besides backing Toomey and Hassan, Bloomberg also helped 16 other candidates in various state races through contributions, fundraisers and independent expenditures via his PAC. Most of those candidates were triumphant on Election Day. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">He donated $5,400 each to the campaigns of Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, also hosting a fundraiser for Kirk. Bennet was reelected but Kirk was defeated by Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg hosted fundraisers and contributed $2,700, the maximum allowable donation in the general election, to both Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was reelected, and Kamala Harris in California, who became the first Indian-American U.S. Senator by beating Loretta Sanchez, a fellow Democrat. (California has a top-two primary system and candidates from the same party can often end up facing off in the general).</p> <p dir="ltr">In six House races, Bloomberg had varying degrees of involvement, including some in New York. He donated $5,400 each to the campaigns of Anna Throne-Holst, Seth Moulton, Pete King and Joe Crowley, and gave $2,700 to Daniel Donovan. He hosted fundraisers for Throne-Holst, Moulton, and Donovan, a Staten Island Republican. His PAC also released $585,000 worth of ads in favor of Val Demings, a Florida Democrat who won an open seat in the state’s 10th congressional district.</p> <p dir="ltr">Throne-Holst, a Democrat, was the only unsuccessful candidate, losing her bid for the House of Representatives from New York’s 1st congressional district. Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, ran unopposed for his seat. New York Representatives King, a Republican; Crowley, a Democrat; and Donovan, a Republican; were all reelected as well.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg also intervened in a number of gubernatorial races. He dedicated $250,000 each to three campaigns -- Kate Brown, governor of Oregon; Roy Cooper, a gubernatorial candidate in North Carolina; and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. He also hosted a fundraiser for Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island, who will be up for reelection in 2018. Brown and Inslee won their reelection races and Cooper was on his way to victory with votes in North Carolina remaining to be verified.</p> <p dir="ltr">In Pennsylvania, Bloomberg gave Josh Shapiro a $250,000 contribution for his campaign for attorney general, and Joe Torsella $50,000 to run for state treasurer. Both Democrats prevailed.</p> <p>“We’ve shown a very successful model here that we’re going to continue to expand on and innovate on as we move ahead,” said La Vorgna. “He’s going to continue to support issues and people that he believes in. That crosses party lines and crosses over in races at the federal, state and local levels.”</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
A New Challenge for De Blasio: Balancing Re-election Campaign and Governing 2016-11-03T04:00:00+00:00 2016-11-03T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6610:a-new-challenge-for-de-blasio-balancing-re-election-campaign-and-governing Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/29451354540_1f3d4607fa_z.jpg" alt="de blasio NAN hands up" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio at NAN (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">New York City’s municipal party primary elections are ten months away, and though he does not yet have a formidable challenger in the race, Mayor Bill de Blasio is not sitting back unprepared. De Blasio, a first-term Democrat, has kickstarted his reelection campaign, raising funds and formulating a campaign message around his achievements. In part, he is trying to preempt a significant challenger from entering the fray. But, as de Blasio himself has said, being Mayor is a 24/7 job and throwing an electoral campaign into the middle of it presents challenges.</p> <p dir="ltr">One major challenge de Blasio faces, and in unique fashion to his three-term predecessor, is balancing his time spent governing versus campaigning, while also adhering to conflicts of interest rules for all city employees.</p> <p dir="ltr">Answering questions recently, the mayor has given a glimpse at the balancing act involved in persuading people that he deserves to remain the city’s chief executive and performing the very duties that come with the position. At an unrelated October 26 news conference, Gotham Gazette asked the mayor about his approach to the issue. “We’re trying to figure out a balance,” de Blasio said, stressing that the job of the mayor “begins in the morning, it ends in the night, and it never goes away.”</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio explained the challenge of finding time in his nonstop workday, one that begins around 5:30 a.m., he said, and includes consistent emails and calls until he goes to bed around midnight.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Because we're in a democracy and there's campaigns and you have to do all the things around a campaign,” he said at the news conference. “As a campaign year is emerging...you've gotta put more time into building up the apparatus. We try to find a way to carve out time, it's not always easy, but we do the best we can.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Asked if he was dedicating any specific blocks of time, de Blasio said it wasn’t really possible to do so.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio is the first incumbent New York City mayor seeking re-election without self-financing his campaign since 1997, when Rudy Giuliani won a second term. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg bankrolled all three of his campaigns, thus needing to dedicate far less time away from his government duties during his two reelection bids, given that fundraising is both time-consuming and essential.</p> <p dir="ltr">On that front, de Blasio has emphasized a return to his roots, shifting to a small-dollar fundraising operation akin to what Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders employed in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. De Blasio has hired the same digital fundraising firm, Revolution Messaging, that ran Sanders’ operation, famous for the $27 average contribution that the senator liked to boast.</p> <p dir="ltr">It is also an apparent attempt by de Blasio to diminish the negative attention he received for his fundraising for the Campaign for One New York, a political nonprofit that promoted his agenda while taking unlimited contributions, that has since become the subject of multiple local, state and federal investigations, and is in the process of shutting down. Neither the mayor or any of his allies involved have been accused of wrongdoing and de Blasio has insisted they acted legally. The mayor has repeatedly said he sought and followed appropriate guidance from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board.</p> <p dir="ltr">It is that same board that provides guidance around separating government and campaign activities.</p> <p dir="ltr">On radio and television appearances soon after the press conference at which de Blasio discussed balancing his time, he elaborated further on the subject when asked. During his weekly segment <a href="http://www.thegreenespace.org/story/video-webcast-brian-lehrer-show-live-mayor-bill-de-blasio-joy-reid-and-marina-abramovic/" target="_blank">on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show</a>, two days after the news conference, a caller asked about the time he spends fundraising. “I can’t give you an exact percentage,” de Blasio said. “I mean, obviously, governing is the vast majority of the time...I think most people who are decent human beings, in public life, would like to tell you we would like to spend zero percent of our time on fundraising.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As he so often does when asked about fundraising, de Blasio stressed the need for campaign finance reform, advocating for full public financing of elections that would not only pull big moneyed interests out of politics but would also focus, “all that time that goes into fundraising now back into public service.” He promised, though, that “governing has to come first and I will just have to do the best I can with limited time in terms of fundraising.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Without more clarity on the mayor’s schedule, it is unclear how well he is limiting his fundraising time.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, it is apparent that the mayor is making many fundraising calls and attending a variety of fundraising events already -- he appeared at a small-dollar young professionals fundraiser for his campaign in Harlem Wednesday night; on November 15, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6587-council-member-richards-to-host-fundraiser-for-mayor-de-blasio" target="_blank">he’ll appear at a fundraiser</a> in Southeast Queens hosted by City Council Member Donovan Richards. Previously, de Blasio has attended a variety of other small fundraising events and had a large fundraiser at Brooklyn Bowl, at which comedian Louis CK, an outspoken supporter of the mayor, performed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Closer to reelection, de Blasio has stepped up his public outreach from a government perspective, too, hosting a number of town halls across the city. He also recently added a new weekly appearance on NY1’s Inside City Hall to his schedule. <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/mondays-with-the-mayor/2016/10/31/ny1-online--mondays-with-the-mayor-10-31-16.html" target="_blank">On the inaugural show</a>, on October 31, anchor Errol Louis also asked the mayor about his fundraising schedule.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio’s answer was similar to what he said at the news conference and on WNYC, although once Louis pressed him he added that he spends on average a few hours a week raising campaign funds. “I want to emphasize that it varies so intensely by week,” he said. “The next big campaign filing is in the middle of January, so there’ll be more energy getting close to that,” he added. “But my goal is to keep it limited each week and if it can be just a few hours each week that’s certainly what I prefer.”</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio’s campaign spokesperson said questions about the mayor’s time management should be directed to City Hall. A spokesperson at City Hall then referred Gotham Gazette to the NY1 interview.</p> <p dir="ltr">Amid any concern that the mayor may lose focus on the job is wariness about the line between official business and campaign activity. “I think he should seek very specific guidance from the Conflicts of Interest Board and the Campaign Finance Board to ensure that he doesn’t cross the line because he has been suspected of crossing earlier lines,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a government reform group. “He should be very careful about the use of government resources for his reelection campaign, which is not permitted.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The city’s campaign finance laws and the City Charter place <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/PDF/guidance/restrictions_on_resources.pdf" target="_blank">restrictions</a> on when, where, and how an elected official might indulge in campaign activities, to ensure a separation from their official duties.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Conflicts of Interest Board also issued a <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/conflicts/downloads/pdf5/aos/2004-2013/AO2012_5.pdf" target="_blank">general advisory</a> in 2012 after receiving numerous questions from elected officials on how they and their subordinates may engage in political activity. By law, no elected official is allowed to use city resources for campaign purposes or work on a campaign while on the clock. For instance, in the mayor’s case, he would be prohibited from making campaign-related calls out of City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">There has already been one possible indication of that separation being tested. A few weeks ago, after the mayor hurriedly took a helicopter from Prospect Park in Brooklyn to an event in Queens to avoid being late, his city spokesperson would not confirm the purpose of the meetings that delayed him in Brooklyn. As has been widely reported, the mayor frequents Bar Toto nearby for political meetings and to make fundraising phone calls. The Wall Street Journal <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/mayors-helicopter-use-creates-dust-up-1476735028" target="_blank">reported</a> that the mayor often spends his Fridays at the restaurant.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Any incumbent who is running for reelection needs to find time within the day to do the politics of this and the mayor is no exception to that,” said Dadey of Citizens Union. Although, the mayor is the first citywide elected to have begun to campaign outright for the 2017 cycle. The other two citywide electeds, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer, have not been especially active on the campaign trail, though both are raising some money. A spokesperson for James declined to comment for this article. Inquiries to Stringer’s office went unanswered. James has a fundraising event coming up November 16 at a Manhattan restaurant.</p> <p dir="ltr">For incumbent mayors, Dadey added, “The political activities are almost hidden from view…because they want to be seen as doing their job as Mayor, not necessarily their job as a political figure. So it’s very important that they not be seen as a regular activity because that’s not what we’re paying the Mayor to do.”</p> <p dir="ltr">What also puts de Blasio in somewhat challenging territory is that his situation is again so different from his predecessor, and many New Yorkers weren’t around for Rudy Giuliani’s tenure and re-election campaign.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Mayor Bloomberg spent no time dialing for campaign dollars or hosting fundraisers,” said Patrick Muncie of Tusk Strategies. Muncie worked on Bloomberg’s 2005 and 2009 campaigns and served as deputy press secretary in the mayor’s office. He is also involved with NYC Deserves Better, a group aimed at unseating de Blasio next year that is run by Bradley Tusk, who ran Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign. Bloomberg spent over $100 million that year to narrowly win his third term.</p> <p>“Of course Mayor Bloomberg campaigned in 2005 and 2009, but his passion was for governing and running the city, not politics,” Muncie said. He cited many of the criticisms of the mayor, including his mornings spent at the gym in Park Slope and his Fridays, as <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/mayors-helicopter-use-creates-dust-up-1476735028" target="_blank">the Journal has reported</a>, spent away from City Hall. “New Yorkers expect their mayor to go to work,” he said, “and to spend the majority of their time focused on their concerns.”</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. </p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/29451354540_1f3d4607fa_z.jpg" alt="de blasio NAN hands up" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio at NAN (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">New York City’s municipal party primary elections are ten months away, and though he does not yet have a formidable challenger in the race, Mayor Bill de Blasio is not sitting back unprepared. De Blasio, a first-term Democrat, has kickstarted his reelection campaign, raising funds and formulating a campaign message around his achievements. In part, he is trying to preempt a significant challenger from entering the fray. But, as de Blasio himself has said, being Mayor is a 24/7 job and throwing an electoral campaign into the middle of it presents challenges.</p> <p dir="ltr">One major challenge de Blasio faces, and in unique fashion to his three-term predecessor, is balancing his time spent governing versus campaigning, while also adhering to conflicts of interest rules for all city employees.</p> <p dir="ltr">Answering questions recently, the mayor has given a glimpse at the balancing act involved in persuading people that he deserves to remain the city’s chief executive and performing the very duties that come with the position. At an unrelated October 26 news conference, Gotham Gazette asked the mayor about his approach to the issue. “We’re trying to figure out a balance,” de Blasio said, stressing that the job of the mayor “begins in the morning, it ends in the night, and it never goes away.”</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio explained the challenge of finding time in his nonstop workday, one that begins around 5:30 a.m., he said, and includes consistent emails and calls until he goes to bed around midnight.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Because we're in a democracy and there's campaigns and you have to do all the things around a campaign,” he said at the news conference. “As a campaign year is emerging...you've gotta put more time into building up the apparatus. We try to find a way to carve out time, it's not always easy, but we do the best we can.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Asked if he was dedicating any specific blocks of time, de Blasio said it wasn’t really possible to do so.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio is the first incumbent New York City mayor seeking re-election without self-financing his campaign since 1997, when Rudy Giuliani won a second term. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg bankrolled all three of his campaigns, thus needing to dedicate far less time away from his government duties during his two reelection bids, given that fundraising is both time-consuming and essential.</p> <p dir="ltr">On that front, de Blasio has emphasized a return to his roots, shifting to a small-dollar fundraising operation akin to what Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders employed in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. De Blasio has hired the same digital fundraising firm, Revolution Messaging, that ran Sanders’ operation, famous for the $27 average contribution that the senator liked to boast.</p> <p dir="ltr">It is also an apparent attempt by de Blasio to diminish the negative attention he received for his fundraising for the Campaign for One New York, a political nonprofit that promoted his agenda while taking unlimited contributions, that has since become the subject of multiple local, state and federal investigations, and is in the process of shutting down. Neither the mayor or any of his allies involved have been accused of wrongdoing and de Blasio has insisted they acted legally. The mayor has repeatedly said he sought and followed appropriate guidance from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board.</p> <p dir="ltr">It is that same board that provides guidance around separating government and campaign activities.</p> <p dir="ltr">On radio and television appearances soon after the press conference at which de Blasio discussed balancing his time, he elaborated further on the subject when asked. During his weekly segment <a href="http://www.thegreenespace.org/story/video-webcast-brian-lehrer-show-live-mayor-bill-de-blasio-joy-reid-and-marina-abramovic/" target="_blank">on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show</a>, two days after the news conference, a caller asked about the time he spends fundraising. “I can’t give you an exact percentage,” de Blasio said. “I mean, obviously, governing is the vast majority of the time...I think most people who are decent human beings, in public life, would like to tell you we would like to spend zero percent of our time on fundraising.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As he so often does when asked about fundraising, de Blasio stressed the need for campaign finance reform, advocating for full public financing of elections that would not only pull big moneyed interests out of politics but would also focus, “all that time that goes into fundraising now back into public service.” He promised, though, that “governing has to come first and I will just have to do the best I can with limited time in terms of fundraising.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Without more clarity on the mayor’s schedule, it is unclear how well he is limiting his fundraising time.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, it is apparent that the mayor is making many fundraising calls and attending a variety of fundraising events already -- he appeared at a small-dollar young professionals fundraiser for his campaign in Harlem Wednesday night; on November 15, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6587-council-member-richards-to-host-fundraiser-for-mayor-de-blasio" target="_blank">he’ll appear at a fundraiser</a> in Southeast Queens hosted by City Council Member Donovan Richards. Previously, de Blasio has attended a variety of other small fundraising events and had a large fundraiser at Brooklyn Bowl, at which comedian Louis CK, an outspoken supporter of the mayor, performed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Closer to reelection, de Blasio has stepped up his public outreach from a government perspective, too, hosting a number of town halls across the city. He also recently added a new weekly appearance on NY1’s Inside City Hall to his schedule. <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/mondays-with-the-mayor/2016/10/31/ny1-online--mondays-with-the-mayor-10-31-16.html" target="_blank">On the inaugural show</a>, on October 31, anchor Errol Louis also asked the mayor about his fundraising schedule.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio’s answer was similar to what he said at the news conference and on WNYC, although once Louis pressed him he added that he spends on average a few hours a week raising campaign funds. “I want to emphasize that it varies so intensely by week,” he said. “The next big campaign filing is in the middle of January, so there’ll be more energy getting close to that,” he added. “But my goal is to keep it limited each week and if it can be just a few hours each week that’s certainly what I prefer.”</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio’s campaign spokesperson said questions about the mayor’s time management should be directed to City Hall. A spokesperson at City Hall then referred Gotham Gazette to the NY1 interview.</p> <p dir="ltr">Amid any concern that the mayor may lose focus on the job is wariness about the line between official business and campaign activity. “I think he should seek very specific guidance from the Conflicts of Interest Board and the Campaign Finance Board to ensure that he doesn’t cross the line because he has been suspected of crossing earlier lines,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a government reform group. “He should be very careful about the use of government resources for his reelection campaign, which is not permitted.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The city’s campaign finance laws and the City Charter place <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/PDF/guidance/restrictions_on_resources.pdf" target="_blank">restrictions</a> on when, where, and how an elected official might indulge in campaign activities, to ensure a separation from their official duties.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Conflicts of Interest Board also issued a <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/conflicts/downloads/pdf5/aos/2004-2013/AO2012_5.pdf" target="_blank">general advisory</a> in 2012 after receiving numerous questions from elected officials on how they and their subordinates may engage in political activity. By law, no elected official is allowed to use city resources for campaign purposes or work on a campaign while on the clock. For instance, in the mayor’s case, he would be prohibited from making campaign-related calls out of City Hall.</p> <p dir="ltr">There has already been one possible indication of that separation being tested. A few weeks ago, after the mayor hurriedly took a helicopter from Prospect Park in Brooklyn to an event in Queens to avoid being late, his city spokesperson would not confirm the purpose of the meetings that delayed him in Brooklyn. As has been widely reported, the mayor frequents Bar Toto nearby for political meetings and to make fundraising phone calls. The Wall Street Journal <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/mayors-helicopter-use-creates-dust-up-1476735028" target="_blank">reported</a> that the mayor often spends his Fridays at the restaurant.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Any incumbent who is running for reelection needs to find time within the day to do the politics of this and the mayor is no exception to that,” said Dadey of Citizens Union. Although, the mayor is the first citywide elected to have begun to campaign outright for the 2017 cycle. The other two citywide electeds, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer, have not been especially active on the campaign trail, though both are raising some money. A spokesperson for James declined to comment for this article. Inquiries to Stringer’s office went unanswered. James has a fundraising event coming up November 16 at a Manhattan restaurant.</p> <p dir="ltr">For incumbent mayors, Dadey added, “The political activities are almost hidden from view…because they want to be seen as doing their job as Mayor, not necessarily their job as a political figure. So it’s very important that they not be seen as a regular activity because that’s not what we’re paying the Mayor to do.”</p> <p dir="ltr">What also puts de Blasio in somewhat challenging territory is that his situation is again so different from his predecessor, and many New Yorkers weren’t around for Rudy Giuliani’s tenure and re-election campaign.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Mayor Bloomberg spent no time dialing for campaign dollars or hosting fundraisers,” said Patrick Muncie of Tusk Strategies. Muncie worked on Bloomberg’s 2005 and 2009 campaigns and served as deputy press secretary in the mayor’s office. He is also involved with NYC Deserves Better, a group aimed at unseating de Blasio next year that is run by Bradley Tusk, who ran Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign. Bloomberg spent over $100 million that year to narrowly win his third term.</p> <p>“Of course Mayor Bloomberg campaigned in 2005 and 2009, but his passion was for governing and running the city, not politics,” Muncie said. He cited many of the criticisms of the mayor, including his mornings spent at the gym in Park Slope and his Fridays, as <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/mayors-helicopter-use-creates-dust-up-1476735028" target="_blank">the Journal has reported</a>, spent away from City Hall. “New Yorkers expect their mayor to go to work,” he said, “and to spend the majority of their time focused on their concerns.”</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p> Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. </p>
Council to Examine Young Men’s Initiative, a Bloomberg Program & National Model 2016-09-20T04:00:00+00:00 2016-09-20T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6537:council-to-examine-young-men-s-initiative-a-bloomberg-program-national-model Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/YMI_Cyrus_Garrett.jpg" alt="YMI Cyrus Garrett" width="600" height="609" /></p> <p dir="ltr">YMI's Cyrus Garrett (photo: @NYCyoungmen)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">In August of 2011, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed a group of nonprofit and community leaders as he announced the launch of a landmark approach to tackling persistent problems facing young black and Latino men. The Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative, <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&amp;catID=1194&amp;doc_name=http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2011b/pr283-11.html&amp;cc=unused1978&amp;rc=1194&amp;ndi=1" target="_blank">Bloomberg said</a>, would address &ldquo;four areas where the disparities are greatest and the consequences most harmful: education, health, employment, and the justice system.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Upon its 2011 launch, Bloomberg put together a steering committee <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&amp;catID=1194&amp;doc_name=http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2011b/pr283-11.html&amp;cc=unused1978&amp;rc=1194&amp;ndi=1" target="_blank">that included</a> major players from the administration, including then-Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs; then-schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott; Veronica White, Director of the Center for Economic Opportunity at the time; and Andrea Batista Schlesinger, Gibb&rsquo;s Director of Strategic Initiatives, who Bloomberg said was the driving force behind the initiative.</p> <p dir="ltr">The program was initially funded by a combination of one-time $30 million contributions from Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Open Society Foundation and ongoing support from New York City tax dollars (up to $67.5 million over three years, Bloomberg said at the time). In his speech, Bloomberg said the purpose was that &ldquo;&lsquo;equal opportunity&rsquo; is not an abstract notion &ndash; but an everyday reality, for all New Yorkers.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">That goal is, generally, the operating motivation for all of the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg&rsquo;s successor. However, while de Blasio has supported the Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative, the program is not exactly a central piece of de Blasio&rsquo;s fight against inequality. On Wednesday, about five years after the launch of the Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative, the City Council will hold an oversight hearing to examine the status of YMI and its effectiveness nearly three years into the de Blasio administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Council&rsquo;s Youth Services Committee, chaired by Council Member Mathieu Eugene of Brooklyn, will hear from Cyrus Garrett, the current executive director, and other YMI stakeholders, including those who have gone through its programming.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ceo/downloads/pdf/2016_1_7_nyc_young_mens_initiative_final.pdf" target="_blank">a status report</a> conducted by the Urban Institute in January of this year, most stakeholders agreed that under Bloomberg, YMI&rsquo;s approach to New York&rsquo;s disparity in justice for young men of color was most successful. YMI 1.0, as the Urban Institute called its Bloomberg era form, ushered in policies like Close to Home, an initiative allowing juvenile offenders to stay close to their families while spending time in non-secure and limited-secure city facilities and ARCHES, a group mentoring program to help remove men aged 16-24 from the criminal justice system.</p> <p dir="ltr">In 2013, when Bloomberg left office, YMI 1.0 had already presided over (or, at least, coincided with) several successes, according to the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ymi/downloads/pdf/YMI_Annual%20Report_100713a.pdf" target="_blank">2013 YMI annual report</a>: juvenile crime was 30% lower in 2013 compared to 2012, and had dropped 18% since 2006; 40 high schools for black and Latino boys had received investments from the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/ymi/initiatives/past-programs.page" target="_blank">Expanded Success Initiative</a> (a YMI offshoot that has since transitioned to the <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/ESI/default.htm" target="_blank">NYC Department of Education</a>); after the introduction of Cure Violence, a program designed to treat violence as a public health issue by putting outreach workers on the ground, there was a 28% decrease in gun violence in the target neighborhoods of the South Bronx, South Jamaica, Crown Heights, East New York, and Central Harlem.</p> <p dir="ltr">Interestingly, the 2013 report was co-authored by Richard Buery, who was then leading Children&rsquo;s Aid Society, but would soon be named a deputy mayor under de Blasio and now oversees YMI.</p> <p dir="ltr">Along with apparent progress, YMI 1.0 also had some structural problems. According to the Urban Institute, &ldquo;there was widespread belief that YMI needed continuous input and consultancy with actors outside city government&rdquo; and &ldquo;community-based organizations, both large and small, did not have sufficient input into YMI processes and decisionmaking.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Fast forward to the present and YMI is led by Garrett, who assumed the role of YMI executive director in December 2014. YMI 2.0 -- as the Urban Institute refers to it -- includes a number of changes, some that seem to speak to the Urban Institute&rsquo;s findings, and some that seem to adapt the initiative to de Blasio&rsquo;s own policies outside of YMI.</p> <p dir="ltr">At an event in 2015 inaugurating the launch of YMI 2.0 and Garrett's appointment, de Blasio outlined the trajectory going forward: &ldquo;New York City is answering President Obama&rsquo;s call and doubling down on its commitments to expanding literacy in our youngest children, ensuring our high school graduates are ready for college and career, and forging a deeper partnership between police and community to prevent crime.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">While YMI 2.0 remains<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/ymi/initiatives/programs.page" target="_blank"> committed to many of the successful programs under Bloomberg</a>, it has since been reconfigured to focus on neighborhoods in the South Bronx, East Harlem, Southwest and Southeast Queens, the North Shore of Staten Island, Brownsville, and East New York. This likely reflects budgetary constraints: the seed money from Bloomberg and Soros has all been spent, as their $60 million was only allocated for the three years after the 2011 launch of YMI.</p> <p dir="ltr">YMI has also <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ymi/downloads/pdf/ymi_connection_issue_8.pdf" target="_blank">begun to align itself</a> with goals set forth in Obama&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper" target="_blank">My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper Initiative</a>, a nationwide program launched in 2014 that de Blasio referred to at the 2015 event and which the city officially partners with. According to Obama, his initiative focuses on &ldquo;providing the support [young men of color] need to think more broadly about their future.&rdquo; While My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper has a much larger focus (and a corresponding $600 million budget), it&rsquo;s genesis <a href="https://www.mikebloomberg.com/news/new-york-citys-young-mens-initiative/" target="_blank">can be traced to</a> the Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative.</p> <p dir="ltr">Alignment with My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper has led to some adjustment in YMI&rsquo;s vision. Under Bloomberg, YMI targeted men of color aged 16-24, but under de Blasio, programs are offered to different age groups. The &ldquo;<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/talktoyourbaby/index.page" target="_blank">Talk to Your Baby&rdquo; campaign</a> and <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/077-15/mayor-de-blasio-the-next-phase-nyc-s-young-men-s-initiative-opening-new-doors-for" target="_blank">reading programs for children enrolled in kindergarten</a> through third grade are both My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper-united programs that clearly target a younger audience. While there are several goals of My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper that also correspond with Bloomberg&rsquo;s original 16-24 demographic, the Urban Institute recommended that the de Blasio administration define &ldquo;what constitutes YMI-aligned programming and clearly communicating which programs count as YMI aligned.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Other important new highlights of YMI 2.0 include improved relationships between the NYPD and young men of color -- a goal that was outlined in de Blasio&rsquo;s 2015<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/077-15/mayor-de-blasio-the-next-phase-nyc-s-young-men-s-initiative-opening-new-doors-for" target="_blank"> launch with Garrett</a> -- but one that lacks any evident policy behind it, though the city is rolling out its expanded neighborhood policing program.</p> <p dir="ltr">In April, YMI released &ldquo;The Disparity Report,&rdquo; which &ldquo;provides a snapshot of where young people of color stand in relation to their peers in the areas of Education, Economic Security and Mobility, Health and Wellbeing, and Community and Personal Safety.&rdquo; Generally, <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/ymi/downloads/pdf/Disparity_Report.pdf" target="_blank">the report</a> shows that there have been &ldquo;decreases in several disparities for young men and women of color,&rdquo; but that &ldquo;disparities persist, warranting an in-depth exploration of the underlying factors that account for these continued discrepancies.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">And on Monday, the de Blasio administration released the Mayor&rsquo;s Management Report (MMR) for fiscal year 2016, which ended June 30. The Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative section of the report shows that it is partnering with about 20 city agencies and offices, mentions its increasing alignment with My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper, and says that &ldquo;In Fiscal 2016, YMI implemented new programs and refined existing ones; developed trackable indicators and metrics; and launched a policy committee to further advance New York City&rsquo;s capacity to promote the advancement of [boys and young men of color].&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Specifically, &ldquo;YMI implemented major initiatives on mentoring, early childhood literacy and teacher recruitment and retention&rdquo; in fiscal 2016, <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/operations/downloads/pdf/mmr2016/young_mens_initiative.pdf" target="_blank">the MMR section states</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Eugene&rsquo;s office confirmed that at Wednesday&rsquo;s hearing his committee will be looking for new information from YMI about its programs and their effectiveness, what its budgetary needs might be, and more.</p> <p>When the City Council examines the Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative Wednesday, a project spearheaded by the Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, could also come up. The Young Women&rsquo;s Initiative, launched by Mark-Viverito in <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pr/100815wi.shtml" target="_blank">October 2015</a>, targets gaps in services for young women aged 12-24. Similar to YMI, YWI focuses on structural inequality facing women of color, with a spotlight on health, education, economic and workforce development, criminal justice, and self-sufficiency and mobility.</p> <p>

***
by Elena Burger, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/YMI_Cyrus_Garrett.jpg" alt="YMI Cyrus Garrett" width="600" height="609" /></p> <p dir="ltr">YMI's Cyrus Garrett (photo: @NYCyoungmen)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">In August of 2011, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed a group of nonprofit and community leaders as he announced the launch of a landmark approach to tackling persistent problems facing young black and Latino men. The Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative, <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&amp;catID=1194&amp;doc_name=http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2011b/pr283-11.html&amp;cc=unused1978&amp;rc=1194&amp;ndi=1" target="_blank">Bloomberg said</a>, would address &ldquo;four areas where the disparities are greatest and the consequences most harmful: education, health, employment, and the justice system.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Upon its 2011 launch, Bloomberg put together a steering committee <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&amp;catID=1194&amp;doc_name=http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2011b/pr283-11.html&amp;cc=unused1978&amp;rc=1194&amp;ndi=1" target="_blank">that included</a> major players from the administration, including then-Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs; then-schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott; Veronica White, Director of the Center for Economic Opportunity at the time; and Andrea Batista Schlesinger, Gibb&rsquo;s Director of Strategic Initiatives, who Bloomberg said was the driving force behind the initiative.</p> <p dir="ltr">The program was initially funded by a combination of one-time $30 million contributions from Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Open Society Foundation and ongoing support from New York City tax dollars (up to $67.5 million over three years, Bloomberg said at the time). In his speech, Bloomberg said the purpose was that &ldquo;&lsquo;equal opportunity&rsquo; is not an abstract notion &ndash; but an everyday reality, for all New Yorkers.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">That goal is, generally, the operating motivation for all of the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg&rsquo;s successor. However, while de Blasio has supported the Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative, the program is not exactly a central piece of de Blasio&rsquo;s fight against inequality. On Wednesday, about five years after the launch of the Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative, the City Council will hold an oversight hearing to examine the status of YMI and its effectiveness nearly three years into the de Blasio administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Council&rsquo;s Youth Services Committee, chaired by Council Member Mathieu Eugene of Brooklyn, will hear from Cyrus Garrett, the current executive director, and other YMI stakeholders, including those who have gone through its programming.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ceo/downloads/pdf/2016_1_7_nyc_young_mens_initiative_final.pdf" target="_blank">a status report</a> conducted by the Urban Institute in January of this year, most stakeholders agreed that under Bloomberg, YMI&rsquo;s approach to New York&rsquo;s disparity in justice for young men of color was most successful. YMI 1.0, as the Urban Institute called its Bloomberg era form, ushered in policies like Close to Home, an initiative allowing juvenile offenders to stay close to their families while spending time in non-secure and limited-secure city facilities and ARCHES, a group mentoring program to help remove men aged 16-24 from the criminal justice system.</p> <p dir="ltr">In 2013, when Bloomberg left office, YMI 1.0 had already presided over (or, at least, coincided with) several successes, according to the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ymi/downloads/pdf/YMI_Annual%20Report_100713a.pdf" target="_blank">2013 YMI annual report</a>: juvenile crime was 30% lower in 2013 compared to 2012, and had dropped 18% since 2006; 40 high schools for black and Latino boys had received investments from the <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/ymi/initiatives/past-programs.page" target="_blank">Expanded Success Initiative</a> (a YMI offshoot that has since transitioned to the <a href="http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/ESI/default.htm" target="_blank">NYC Department of Education</a>); after the introduction of Cure Violence, a program designed to treat violence as a public health issue by putting outreach workers on the ground, there was a 28% decrease in gun violence in the target neighborhoods of the South Bronx, South Jamaica, Crown Heights, East New York, and Central Harlem.</p> <p dir="ltr">Interestingly, the 2013 report was co-authored by Richard Buery, who was then leading Children&rsquo;s Aid Society, but would soon be named a deputy mayor under de Blasio and now oversees YMI.</p> <p dir="ltr">Along with apparent progress, YMI 1.0 also had some structural problems. According to the Urban Institute, &ldquo;there was widespread belief that YMI needed continuous input and consultancy with actors outside city government&rdquo; and &ldquo;community-based organizations, both large and small, did not have sufficient input into YMI processes and decisionmaking.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Fast forward to the present and YMI is led by Garrett, who assumed the role of YMI executive director in December 2014. YMI 2.0 -- as the Urban Institute refers to it -- includes a number of changes, some that seem to speak to the Urban Institute&rsquo;s findings, and some that seem to adapt the initiative to de Blasio&rsquo;s own policies outside of YMI.</p> <p dir="ltr">At an event in 2015 inaugurating the launch of YMI 2.0 and Garrett's appointment, de Blasio outlined the trajectory going forward: &ldquo;New York City is answering President Obama&rsquo;s call and doubling down on its commitments to expanding literacy in our youngest children, ensuring our high school graduates are ready for college and career, and forging a deeper partnership between police and community to prevent crime.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">While YMI 2.0 remains<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/ymi/initiatives/programs.page" target="_blank"> committed to many of the successful programs under Bloomberg</a>, it has since been reconfigured to focus on neighborhoods in the South Bronx, East Harlem, Southwest and Southeast Queens, the North Shore of Staten Island, Brownsville, and East New York. This likely reflects budgetary constraints: the seed money from Bloomberg and Soros has all been spent, as their $60 million was only allocated for the three years after the 2011 launch of YMI.</p> <p dir="ltr">YMI has also <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ymi/downloads/pdf/ymi_connection_issue_8.pdf" target="_blank">begun to align itself</a> with goals set forth in Obama&rsquo;s <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper" target="_blank">My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper Initiative</a>, a nationwide program launched in 2014 that de Blasio referred to at the 2015 event and which the city officially partners with. According to Obama, his initiative focuses on &ldquo;providing the support [young men of color] need to think more broadly about their future.&rdquo; While My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper has a much larger focus (and a corresponding $600 million budget), it&rsquo;s genesis <a href="https://www.mikebloomberg.com/news/new-york-citys-young-mens-initiative/" target="_blank">can be traced to</a> the Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative.</p> <p dir="ltr">Alignment with My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper has led to some adjustment in YMI&rsquo;s vision. Under Bloomberg, YMI targeted men of color aged 16-24, but under de Blasio, programs are offered to different age groups. The &ldquo;<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/talktoyourbaby/index.page" target="_blank">Talk to Your Baby&rdquo; campaign</a> and <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/077-15/mayor-de-blasio-the-next-phase-nyc-s-young-men-s-initiative-opening-new-doors-for" target="_blank">reading programs for children enrolled in kindergarten</a> through third grade are both My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper-united programs that clearly target a younger audience. While there are several goals of My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper that also correspond with Bloomberg&rsquo;s original 16-24 demographic, the Urban Institute recommended that the de Blasio administration define &ldquo;what constitutes YMI-aligned programming and clearly communicating which programs count as YMI aligned.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Other important new highlights of YMI 2.0 include improved relationships between the NYPD and young men of color -- a goal that was outlined in de Blasio&rsquo;s 2015<a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/077-15/mayor-de-blasio-the-next-phase-nyc-s-young-men-s-initiative-opening-new-doors-for" target="_blank"> launch with Garrett</a> -- but one that lacks any evident policy behind it, though the city is rolling out its expanded neighborhood policing program.</p> <p dir="ltr">In April, YMI released &ldquo;The Disparity Report,&rdquo; which &ldquo;provides a snapshot of where young people of color stand in relation to their peers in the areas of Education, Economic Security and Mobility, Health and Wellbeing, and Community and Personal Safety.&rdquo; Generally, <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/ymi/downloads/pdf/Disparity_Report.pdf" target="_blank">the report</a> shows that there have been &ldquo;decreases in several disparities for young men and women of color,&rdquo; but that &ldquo;disparities persist, warranting an in-depth exploration of the underlying factors that account for these continued discrepancies.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">And on Monday, the de Blasio administration released the Mayor&rsquo;s Management Report (MMR) for fiscal year 2016, which ended June 30. The Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative section of the report shows that it is partnering with about 20 city agencies and offices, mentions its increasing alignment with My Brother&rsquo;s Keeper, and says that &ldquo;In Fiscal 2016, YMI implemented new programs and refined existing ones; developed trackable indicators and metrics; and launched a policy committee to further advance New York City&rsquo;s capacity to promote the advancement of [boys and young men of color].&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Specifically, &ldquo;YMI implemented major initiatives on mentoring, early childhood literacy and teacher recruitment and retention&rdquo; in fiscal 2016, <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/operations/downloads/pdf/mmr2016/young_mens_initiative.pdf" target="_blank">the MMR section states</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Eugene&rsquo;s office confirmed that at Wednesday&rsquo;s hearing his committee will be looking for new information from YMI about its programs and their effectiveness, what its budgetary needs might be, and more.</p> <p>When the City Council examines the Young Men&rsquo;s Initiative Wednesday, a project spearheaded by the Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, could also come up. The Young Women&rsquo;s Initiative, launched by Mark-Viverito in <a href="http://council.nyc.gov/html/pr/100815wi.shtml" target="_blank">October 2015</a>, targets gaps in services for young women aged 12-24. Similar to YMI, YWI focuses on structural inequality facing women of color, with a spotlight on health, education, economic and workforce development, criminal justice, and self-sufficiency and mobility.</p> <p>

***
by Elena Burger, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Touted Bloomberg Anti-Poverty Incubator Sees New Life in De Blasio Era 2016-08-29T04:00:00+00:00 2016-08-29T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6499:touted-bloomberg-anti-poverty-incubator-sees-new-life-in-de-blasio-era Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/6686597123_e7eeaccd8f_z.jpg" alt="Bloomberg city of innovation speech" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Above: Mayor Bloomberg speaks (Ed Reed). Below: Gibbs &amp; Doar on panel</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Data-driven Center for Economic Opportunity paves way for workforce development vision in Career Pathways</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr">On July 14, former Bloomberg Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Robert Doar, former commissioner of anti-poverty efforts, participated in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mJJhT9Hkdk" target="_blank">panel</a> discussion in Washington, D.C., fielding questions about the poverty-fighting efforts they led through New York City&rsquo;s Center for Economic Opportunity. It came just after their written <a href="http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/06/19/new-york-citys-turnaround-on-poverty/">series </a>on the CEO and the Bloomberg approach to reducing poverty in New York, in which they argue for it as a national model.</p> <p dir="ltr">Two-and-a-half years after Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office, the two former officials wrote in Washington Monthly of the Center for Economic Opportunity&rsquo;s role in pioneering a disruptive, systemic, data-driven approach to reducing poverty and creating opportunity, claiming impressive results: the city, from 2000 to 2013, reported a declining poverty rate as comparable American cities saw a 36% spike and nationwide figures climbed from 11.3% to 14.8%, they wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">A representative for Gibbs reported that the New York City poverty rate dropped from 21.2% to 20.3% over Bloomberg&rsquo;s full tenure. Though a modest decline, relative to the poverty-rate growth elsewhere, New York City was a positive outlier, and in their series, Gibbs and Doar aimed to encourage a national fight against poverty modeled after CEO efforts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg&rsquo;s successor, current Mayor Bill de Blasio, came into office promising to address socioeconomic inequities, and appears to have seen the positives of CEO. De Blasio&rsquo;s anti-poverty campaign employs many of the same tactics that CEO popularized. While CEO is no longer the same standalone program incubator it was, it is still part of the city&rsquo;s anti-poverty efforts and de Blasio administration has adopted a data-centric workforce development vision that takes a similarly holistic approach to tackling the underlying sources of unemployment.</p> <p dir="ltr">The most recent newsletter from CEO, published August 26, says the center has released two new evaluation reports detailing the progress of municipal identification program IDNYC and the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/06/business/economy/job-training-can-work-so-why-isnt-there-more-of-it.html?_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times-heralded</a> career advancement program, WorkAdvance.</p> <p dir="ltr">Originated in 2006 as a commission evaluating the root causes of poverty, the aptly-abbreviated CEO was institutionalized within the Mayor&rsquo;s Office in 2007 to pilot programs to address the working poor, young adults aged 16-24, and families with children. Bloomberg - the billionaire entrepreneur mayor - tasked Gibbs, then Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, to define the shape and scope of the anti-poverty incubator, with assistance from Doar, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner.</p> <p dir="ltr">The CEO team collaborated with agencies and advisors to implement, manage, and evaluate the efficacy of its programs, taking an experimental approach aimed at finally designing initiatives that really work.</p> <p dir="ltr">Success was measured in the context of CEO's precedent-setting, citywide poverty data measures, which were developed in-house. These evaluations were designed to improve on a federal model that did not take into account changes in the economy, demographic trends, and public policies, and were made possible through collaboration with partners like nonprofit research organizations MDRC and the IT-training Per Scholas.</p> <p dir="ltr">Keen on informed risk-taking, the center pioneered both divisive flameouts like the conditional cash transfer Family Rewards program and nationally-replicated breakthroughs like the Obama-cited CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) initiative, which provides a support network of counselors and peer engagement groups, along with stipends for supplementary funding for books, transportation, and tuition not covered by financial aid. Over eight years, CEO launched over 60 initiatives. In its infancy, the center found its footing in accomplishments like the Office of Financial Empowerment. Soon, the center created successful job training and education programs like WorkAdvance and Project Rise that would continue operating through Bloomberg&rsquo;s tenure and into the current administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Through these programs, we are providing evidence of what works, and we hope that through these investments we will find the key to break the pattern of poverty that still persists despite all the opportunity our city offers," Bloomberg said at a 2007 <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/478-07/mayor-bloomberg-the-successful-launch-31-anti-poverty-programs-center-economic" target="_blank">press conference</a> celebrating a first year of program launches.</p> <p dir="ltr">In their recent series reflecting on CEO, Gibbs and Doar write: &ldquo;The story of New York&rsquo;s success to date is one of repeated experimentation, a willingness to take risks and the occasional failure. Most significantly, New York&rsquo;s experience confirms that solid evidence can trump the liberal-versus-conservative stalemate when the welfare of the country&rsquo;s most vulnerable people is at stake.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Today, Mayor de Blasio has based his entire administration on reducing inequality, creating opportunity for those who have not had it, and treating the ills of a New York that has worked for those at the top of the socioeconomic ladder, but not many others.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio has outlined a plan to lift 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty and near poverty by 2025; the course of action in his <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/onenyc/downloads/pdf/publications/OneNYC.pdf" target="_blank">OneNYC plan</a> hinges on the transformative potential of a $15 per hour minimum wage and a combination of equity-focused initiatives to expand prekindergarten enrollment, construct affordable housing, and improve access to 21st-century essentials like broadband, transportation, and childcare.</p> <p dir="ltr">Much like in other areas, the de Blasio administration has a different anti-poverty approach than its predecessor. Under de Blasio, the Center for Economic Opportunity has indeed been deemphasized as a program creator. Instead, this administration has adopted a set of workforce development initiatives through &ldquo;Career Pathways,&rdquo; which is inspired by aspects of CEO, like attacking the root causes of poverty and unemployment and employing strict data accountability.</p> <p dir="ltr">Today, CEO is primarily used for its quantitative capabilities, evaluating new initiatives and streamlining existing ones while expanding its role in data analytics. Both Gibbs and current CEO Executive Director Matthew Klein, hired in 2014, are enthusiastic about de Blasio&rsquo;s efforts.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an interview with Gotham Gazette, Klein explained the ways in which the center has evolved. &ldquo;The mayor has a strong focus on broad, big-scale change,&rdquo; Klein explained of his boss, de Blasio. This means adjusting to the mayor's priorities: the CEO is now working closely alongside the Department of Education to monitor the implementation of the universal pre-kindergarten program, which Klein described as an "all hands on deck effort across the administration." Klein also appeared at the American Enterprise Institute panel to detail CEO&rsquo;s new direction.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s new <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/careerpathways/downloads/pdf/career-pathways-full-report.pdf" target="_blank">Career Pathways</a> approach, one that has been adopted at federal, state, and local levels across the country, relies on a network of industry partnerships that unites public and private stakeholders to design and develop curricula and training programs that match workforce shortages. In short, Career Pathways provides the skill development and Industry Partnerships provides the jobs: Career Pathways the supply, Industry Partnerships the demand.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Office Of Workforce Development, formerly the Office of Human Capital Development, has assumed a coordinating role to oversee the complex maze of agencies, providers, funders, and stakeholders that the plan requires to produce its anti-poverty and workforce development programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">By shifting to Career Pathways, the administration abandoned an old model of rapidly pairing workers with available jobs (&ldquo;rapid-attachment&rdquo;), instead investing in the skill building and education that produce lasting employment. The de Blasio administration is making an informed decision: the Career Pathways model has received support from <a href="https://www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/PDF/career_pathways_toolkit.pdf" target="_blank">The US Department of Labor&rsquo;s Employment and Training Administration</a>, as well as the <a href="https://lincs.ed.gov/professional-development/resource-collections/profile-556" target="_blank">US Department of Education&rsquo;s Office of Vocational and Adult Education</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the beginning of de Blasio&rsquo;s term, the CEO poverty rate was at 20.7%, with 45.2% of New Yorkers living in near poverty - a term identifying the population living below 150% of the CEO poverty line. The administration <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/938-15/city-marks-significant-progress-key-areas-one-year-after-release-career-pathways-report" target="_blank">claims</a> that new training, entrepreneurship, and &ldquo;bridge programs&rdquo; have already served over 18,000 residents as of December 2015. There were also significant increases in youth employment, with the Summer Youth Employment Program expanding to reach 54,000 participants.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new de Blasio strategy hinges on a dramatic redirection of the Human Resources Administration, which has been under the direction of Steve Banks since de Blasio appointed him in 2014. Moving away from pre-existing job placement initiatives, the agency now instead <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6177-in-departure-from-predecessors-de-blasio-administration-overhauls-city-welfare-system" target="_blank">prioritizes</a> redirected HRA programs and new bridge programs that provide low-skill job seekers with education and remedial training to find career-track employment in needy job sectors.</p> <p dir="ltr">Like those of CEO, these programs are held accountable by data collection. The de Blasio administration calls these evaluatory statistics "common metrics," outlined in its original OneNYC plan, designed to align data and definitions to create a shared data collection system across all workforce programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the Career Pathways approach has a place for successful CEO programs like WorkAdvance and Project Rise, the only CEO program highlighted in the OneNYC workforce development vision is the star CUNY ASAP initiative. The de Blasio administration has decided to chart his own path, with its own programmatic approach, instead of relying on the experimental nature of CEO.</p> <p dir="ltr">So far, the Career Pathways vision has proven to be unwieldy for the same reasons it is heralded. The large web of new and redesigned education and training programs are more intensive and expensive than the preceding placement programs. In addition, the common metrics that provide accountability are in place, but somewhat disorganized: over a year into the approach common metrics have not been fully coordinated and integrated. The CEO is collaborating with the current administration to coordinate this data collection.</p> <p dir="ltr">If the budding Career Pathways strategy succeeds, the current administration will, in part, have Bloomberg&rsquo;s groundbreaking CEO to thank.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Bloomberg&rsquo;s Incubator</strong><br />A brainchild of a <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/068-06/mayor-bloomberg-appoints-members-city-s-commission-economic-opportunity" target="_blank">2006 poverty commission</a>, the "laboratory for experimentation" known as the Center for Economic Opportunity took advantage of a $100 million budget to pilot over 60 unconventional anti-poverty programs, each subjected to statistical evaluations that would determine its longevity.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under the initial direction of executive director Veronica M. White, the CEO&rsquo;s center&rsquo;s initial funding came from a public-private partnership comprised of a new investment of tax dollars and philanthropic partners; the philosophy was indicative of the larger Bloomberg approach to government: infuse private sector principles to the public sector.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Gibbs_Doar_panel_1.png" alt="Gibbs Doar panel 1" width="300" height="222" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" />Over time, CEO&rsquo;s staunchly quantitative approach to anti-poverty reform fostered what Gibbs describes as "an accountability for outcomes and evaluation.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s data-centric design was a reaction to its environment, typical of the slow-to-change government that Bloomberg often railed against.</p> <p dir="ltr">"People, particularly in the social services, fall behind many other sectors," former Deputy Mayor Gibbs told Gotham Gazette in a phone interview. "We do things because we believe they are the right thing to do, we believe they are good and virtuous and helping people in need, but we don't always give ourselves the same level of accountability for whether or not our great idea will actually produce good."</p> <p dir="ltr">The CEO's Darwinian approach reflected the entrepreneurial mind of its captain, a mayor more than willing to experiment with city government.</p> <p dir="ltr">One of CEOs early successes was the Office of Financial Empowerment. Created within the Department of Consumer Affairs in 2006, <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/partners/financial-empowerment.page" target="_blank">OFE</a> fought to "make work pay" through expansions of income supplements, public health insurance, and the earned income tax credit, among other programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Gibbs and Doar, an early evaluation showed $3 million in savings for 22,000 clients, and $22.5 million in total debt reduction. In July, Gotham Gazette<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6429-new-consumer-affairs-commissioner-inherits-robust-agency-and-big-challenges" target="_blank"> reported</a> that OFE has been incrementally expanded during Mayor de Blasio&rsquo;s tenure, now headed by Executive Director Debra-Ellen Glickstein, who signed on in 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other CEO initiatives, like WorkAdvance, provided vulnerable New Yorkers with occupational skill training and industry-recognized certifications before coordinating placement in high-demand sectors. This humanistic approach included both pre-employment and job retention services to ensure effectiveness and instill confidence in job seekers. The program was hand-picked for national replication through a partnership with the Social Innovation Fund (SIF): a public-private partnership identifying evidence-based approaches to social challenges.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the American Enterprise Institute panel with Gibbs and Doar, Gordon Berlin, president of MDRC, emphasized the significance of the grant, citing the "cross city partnership" it created. "The SIF really helped secure the CEO's future, role, and position in the national debate about federal poverty policy," Berlin said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tested in New York, Northeast Ohio, and Oklahoma, the expanded WorkAdvance program boasted two-year advantages at all sites (when compared to a control group) of 31% in training completion and 12-41% in sectoral employment, along with instances of earnings boosts up to 26%, according to an MDRC <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-findings-show-that-workadvance-sectoral-training-and-advancement-program-boosts-earnings-for-low-income-workers-300290765.html" target="_blank">report</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The only CEO program highlighted in Mayor de Blasio&rsquo;s OneNYC Career Pathways workforce development vision is the aforementioned CUNY ASAP, now available to 17,000 full-time students across 24 campuses. The CUNY program helps students earn associate degrees by providing supplemental financial and personal assistance with the goal of increasing credits earned and lowering cost per degree.</p> <p dir="ltr">The effort rose to national fame when President Obama mentioned ASAP by name in a 2015 address regarding a proposal to offer free tuition for more community college students. Creating an educated, debt-free workforce could have significant anti-poverty ramifications: a 2015 ASAP<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/09/fact-sheet-white-house-unveils-america-s-college-promise-proposal-tuitio" target="_blank"> study</a> claims that by 2020, an estimated 35% of job openings will require a bachelor&rsquo;s degree, and 30% more will require a college or associate&rsquo;s degree. The country&rsquo;s student debt crisis is well <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/07/the-scariest-student-loan-number/492023/" target="_blank">documented</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">As of June, the program<a href="http://www1.cuny.edu/sites/asap/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2016/06/ASAP_Program_Overview_Web.pdf" target="_blank"> claims</a> a 53% to 23% (control group) advantage in graduation rates. The current incarnation of CUNY ASAP, located at all six city community colleges, reported a Spring enrollment of over 8,000 students, and projects to double that total this Fall. CEO Deputy Executive Director Carson Hicks told Gotham Gazette that the program is on track to reach 25,000 students by the 2018-2019 academic year.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Expanded Vision</strong><br />Mayor de Blasio hopes the Career Pathways approach, made possible by strategic industry partnerships, will build on the CEO legacy of impactful training and education programs held accountable by stringent data collection and evaluation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Three new HRA programs include CareerAdvance, CareerCompass, and YouthPathways, which replaced programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).</p> <p dir="ltr">A Center for an Urban Future <a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/Building_the_Workforce_of_the_Future.pdf" target="_blank">analysis</a> of Career Pathways, released last month, commends the change, observing that old TANF initiatives were both low-paying and unaligned with the career goals of clients. There was also a lack of individualized assessment, made evident by the fact that the programs did not take into account the age of their clients.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio also cites Computer Science for All as an early success and part of long-term plans to create opportunity and reduce poverty. Launched in 2015, the program aims to deliver computer science education to public school students through elementary, middle, and high school. The administration says it will make the program available to all students by 2025 in order to accommodate a job market that increasingly rewards the technically proficient (CSFA references a 57% tech employment hike 2007-2014).</p> <p dir="ltr">Computer Science for All is funded by a public-private partnership with the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education and the Robin Hood Foundation, and is part of the mayor&rsquo;s <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/618-15/equity-excellence-mayor-de-blasio-reforms-raise-achievement-across-all-public" target="_blank">Equity and Excellence agenda</a>, which includes AP for All: a program designed to provide students at all 400 city high schools with access to five AP courses by 2021. Both programs intend to address the troubling disparity between education opportunities for many black and Hispanic youth and their more privileged counterparts.</p> <p dir="ltr">The administration has also overseen a new investment in bridge programs that provide remedial training for skill-deficient workers. The CEO was brought in to develop programs connecting participants with healthcare training opportunities, also collaborating with CUNY to launch the Building Bridges Professional Development course that gathered over 50 community-based organizations in summer of 2015. That same winter, The NYC Bridge Bank was established to provide program curricula, design manuals, and teacher guides for Career Pathways implementation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Across workforce development, the de Blasio administration is operating with increased capital: according to the same Center for an Urban Future <a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/Building_the_Workforce_of_the_Future.pdf" target="_blank">report</a>, the city has increased its annual spending budget for workforce services from $500 million in fiscal year 2014 to just over $600 million in fiscal year 2016. Mayor de Blasio has committed to increasing occupational and training programs to $100 million and bridge programs to $60 million annually by 2020.</p> <p dir="ltr">To coordinate these moving parts, the administration converted the once-perfunctory Office of Human Capital Development into the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ohcd/html/home/home.shtml" target="_blank">Office of Workforce Development</a> to serve the essential role of guiding and coordinating with the three main agencies that together control almost all of the money that flows into workforce development: the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), and the Human Resources Administration (HRA), according to Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, a senior researcher at the Center for an Urban Future.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lazar Treschan, director of youth policy at Community Service Society, a nonprofit focused on poverty reduction, is supportive of the new Career Pathways direction. &ldquo;The reforms have been terrific in terms of vision, planning, ideas,&rdquo; Treschan told Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;One thing that is missing is additional investment,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;Ideas will only take you so far. At some point we do need the money.&rdquo; Treschan noted that new money would come from the city, as current workforce money largely comes from the state and federal government.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Reality Check</strong><br />Despite the promising launch of initiatives like HireNYC, a targeted hiring program that connects job seekers to positions created by the city&rsquo;s purchases and investments, there has not been enough permanent funding in the workforce system and investment in provider organizations to bring about the advanced system of referrals and partnerships that the nascent Career Pathways strategy requires, analysts say.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The new system really shows a lot of promise to consolidate programs that once existed in silence," Rivera said. Published in July, Rivera conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Career Pathways, informed by interviews with over 30 workforce development experts. "The city for the first time is actually investing in bridge programs&hellip;it's really on the ground level right now. So a lot of investment has been made already. A lot of shift in culture has happened," Rivera said.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, Rivera wonders about whether the de Blasio administration has overreached. "When you look at all levels, there is not enough money to serve all the people who need to be served with these higher touch expensive programs&hellip;the bridge programs are at least one-and-a-half or even two times more expensive as regular adult basic education programs. We're going to need more investment in order to make this happen."</p> <p dir="ltr">In his report, Rivera uncovered why there isn't enough money flowing into Career Pathways initiatives. "The programs tend to be funded at least in part through private philanthropic dollars and to operate on a limited scale. Public investment is hampered at the federal level by restrictions and rules imposed by funding sources, and at the local level by a limited understanding on part of city agencies of the needs of community-based organizations in the cost structures of the programs they run."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Data Accountability</strong><br />Another key shortcoming of the Career Pathways rollout involves the coordinating office, which is, as of April, headed by Executive Director Barbara Chang. In its current incarnation, the Office of Workforce Development (WKDEV) has limited power and influence to make programming and funding decisions, according to Rivera.</p> <p dir="ltr">Unlike the CEO model where design, evaluation, and funding are all consolidated into one adaptable, independent body, WKDEV purely serves a guiding role. "CEO actually has money to pilot programs, the Office of Workforce Development just has enough to basically pay salaries," Rivera explained. "That's one of the problems: basically, it's a coordinating agency, it should be an agency that should have more control over program development, but it doesn't." Rivera&rsquo;s critique, which relates to CEO, boils down to: "Work-dev [WKDEV] can advise, but in the end they are not accountable."</p> <p dir="ltr">One of the Office of Workforce Development's chief responsibilities is to create a set of common metrics to measure performance of Career Pathways programs. However, Rivera reports that WKDEV is only now sitting down with the different agencies (HRA, SBS, DYDC) to catalog outcome measures, compare definitions, and determine relevant measures for integration into each program.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rivera explained why this will be a difficult process. "Even a measure like number of people served can have a different definition from one agency to the next," he explained. "The other problem is that programs work with very different populations. You can&rsquo;t expect an organization that serves community college students to have the same outcomes as one that serves high school dropouts who read at less than the sixth grade level."</p> <p>The avoidable disorder of data systems begs the obvious question: why weren't common metrics squared away earlier? "That was actually a question I asked the director of the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development,&rdquo; Rivera said. &ldquo;Why start with programs instead of the common metrics?" His answer? The decision had less to do with accountability and more with self-preservation.</p> <p dir="ltr">"These agencies depend on meeting certain outcomes to continue receiving money. So, HRA has to prove to the federal government that it did what the federal government wanted it to do in order to continue receiving money and not get penalties. And so any kind of outside evaluation that shows that maybe they are not doing their job as well as they said they are, or basically if you measure them with a different yardstick that says they're not doing as well, anything like that, can potentially be threatening. So it's very dicey. It's very political, for that reason."</p> <p dir="ltr">There is the obvious comparison to the way the CEO closely monitored its initiatives. "These are (CEO) programs that still have an evaluation component, and they basically represent the gold standard for how these (Career Pathways) programs should be measured.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">"In fact," Rivera added, "that's part of the inspiration that work-dev took in order to start measuring common metrics."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Today&rsquo;s Driver</strong><br />Today, the Center for Economic Opportunity is less of an active player than it was under Bloomberg, assuming a supporting role in the current administration. The center still manages to conduct annual poverty measures and build on existing initiatives like the redesigned Young Adult Literacy Program, while spearheading others like an upcoming mental health service integration project made possible by a 2015 Social Impact Fund grant.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio is eager to capitalize on the CEO's analytical capabilities: Executive Director Klein reported at the American Enterprise Institute panel that there are 39 CEO evaluations either launched, underway, or completed within the last two years.</p> <p dir="ltr">Klein also detailed CEO&rsquo;s role in establishing common metrics among the dissimilar Career Pathways programs. When challenged on the rollout, Klein emphasized that the right plan was there from the beginning, even if execution faltered somewhat. &ldquo;Common metrics was largely set in terms of the definitions of the metrics themselves by the time the (Career Pathways) report was issued," Klein said, before offering an addendum. "There may have been one or two areas that needed final refinement to align across agencies."</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It sounds very simple, but it&rsquo;s a complex undertaking&hellip;you&rsquo;re talking about a changed management approach across multiple agencies and dozens of funding streams with old legacy data systems,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t feel that bad about the timeline that we&rsquo;re on.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">By large, de Blasio's appreciation for the CEO approach is evident in the way he conducts his anti-poverty and workforce development reform. Even former Deputy Mayor Gibbs spoke with warmth when describing the current mayor's efforts.</p> <p>"We very much hoped that the de Blasio administration would continue with the CEO as an institution, and a framework, and also hoped that we could share the lessons so that others could do it as well, so we were super excited when de Blasio did exactly that," Gibbs said. "He embraced it and continued it, and I think what's really great is that he made it his own as well.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by Benjamin Jurney for Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/6686597123_e7eeaccd8f_z.jpg" alt="Bloomberg city of innovation speech" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Above: Mayor Bloomberg speaks (Ed Reed). Below: Gibbs &amp; Doar on panel</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>Data-driven Center for Economic Opportunity paves way for workforce development vision in Career Pathways</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr">On July 14, former Bloomberg Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Robert Doar, former commissioner of anti-poverty efforts, participated in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mJJhT9Hkdk" target="_blank">panel</a> discussion in Washington, D.C., fielding questions about the poverty-fighting efforts they led through New York City&rsquo;s Center for Economic Opportunity. It came just after their written <a href="http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/06/19/new-york-citys-turnaround-on-poverty/">series </a>on the CEO and the Bloomberg approach to reducing poverty in New York, in which they argue for it as a national model.</p> <p dir="ltr">Two-and-a-half years after Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office, the two former officials wrote in Washington Monthly of the Center for Economic Opportunity&rsquo;s role in pioneering a disruptive, systemic, data-driven approach to reducing poverty and creating opportunity, claiming impressive results: the city, from 2000 to 2013, reported a declining poverty rate as comparable American cities saw a 36% spike and nationwide figures climbed from 11.3% to 14.8%, they wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">A representative for Gibbs reported that the New York City poverty rate dropped from 21.2% to 20.3% over Bloomberg&rsquo;s full tenure. Though a modest decline, relative to the poverty-rate growth elsewhere, New York City was a positive outlier, and in their series, Gibbs and Doar aimed to encourage a national fight against poverty modeled after CEO efforts.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bloomberg&rsquo;s successor, current Mayor Bill de Blasio, came into office promising to address socioeconomic inequities, and appears to have seen the positives of CEO. De Blasio&rsquo;s anti-poverty campaign employs many of the same tactics that CEO popularized. While CEO is no longer the same standalone program incubator it was, it is still part of the city&rsquo;s anti-poverty efforts and de Blasio administration has adopted a data-centric workforce development vision that takes a similarly holistic approach to tackling the underlying sources of unemployment.</p> <p dir="ltr">The most recent newsletter from CEO, published August 26, says the center has released two new evaluation reports detailing the progress of municipal identification program IDNYC and the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/06/business/economy/job-training-can-work-so-why-isnt-there-more-of-it.html?_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times-heralded</a> career advancement program, WorkAdvance.</p> <p dir="ltr">Originated in 2006 as a commission evaluating the root causes of poverty, the aptly-abbreviated CEO was institutionalized within the Mayor&rsquo;s Office in 2007 to pilot programs to address the working poor, young adults aged 16-24, and families with children. Bloomberg - the billionaire entrepreneur mayor - tasked Gibbs, then Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, to define the shape and scope of the anti-poverty incubator, with assistance from Doar, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) Commissioner.</p> <p dir="ltr">The CEO team collaborated with agencies and advisors to implement, manage, and evaluate the efficacy of its programs, taking an experimental approach aimed at finally designing initiatives that really work.</p> <p dir="ltr">Success was measured in the context of CEO's precedent-setting, citywide poverty data measures, which were developed in-house. These evaluations were designed to improve on a federal model that did not take into account changes in the economy, demographic trends, and public policies, and were made possible through collaboration with partners like nonprofit research organizations MDRC and the IT-training Per Scholas.</p> <p dir="ltr">Keen on informed risk-taking, the center pioneered both divisive flameouts like the conditional cash transfer Family Rewards program and nationally-replicated breakthroughs like the Obama-cited CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) initiative, which provides a support network of counselors and peer engagement groups, along with stipends for supplementary funding for books, transportation, and tuition not covered by financial aid. Over eight years, CEO launched over 60 initiatives. In its infancy, the center found its footing in accomplishments like the Office of Financial Empowerment. Soon, the center created successful job training and education programs like WorkAdvance and Project Rise that would continue operating through Bloomberg&rsquo;s tenure and into the current administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Through these programs, we are providing evidence of what works, and we hope that through these investments we will find the key to break the pattern of poverty that still persists despite all the opportunity our city offers," Bloomberg said at a 2007 <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/478-07/mayor-bloomberg-the-successful-launch-31-anti-poverty-programs-center-economic" target="_blank">press conference</a> celebrating a first year of program launches.</p> <p dir="ltr">In their recent series reflecting on CEO, Gibbs and Doar write: &ldquo;The story of New York&rsquo;s success to date is one of repeated experimentation, a willingness to take risks and the occasional failure. Most significantly, New York&rsquo;s experience confirms that solid evidence can trump the liberal-versus-conservative stalemate when the welfare of the country&rsquo;s most vulnerable people is at stake.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Today, Mayor de Blasio has based his entire administration on reducing inequality, creating opportunity for those who have not had it, and treating the ills of a New York that has worked for those at the top of the socioeconomic ladder, but not many others.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio has outlined a plan to lift 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty and near poverty by 2025; the course of action in his <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/onenyc/downloads/pdf/publications/OneNYC.pdf" target="_blank">OneNYC plan</a> hinges on the transformative potential of a $15 per hour minimum wage and a combination of equity-focused initiatives to expand prekindergarten enrollment, construct affordable housing, and improve access to 21st-century essentials like broadband, transportation, and childcare.</p> <p dir="ltr">Much like in other areas, the de Blasio administration has a different anti-poverty approach than its predecessor. Under de Blasio, the Center for Economic Opportunity has indeed been deemphasized as a program creator. Instead, this administration has adopted a set of workforce development initiatives through &ldquo;Career Pathways,&rdquo; which is inspired by aspects of CEO, like attacking the root causes of poverty and unemployment and employing strict data accountability.</p> <p dir="ltr">Today, CEO is primarily used for its quantitative capabilities, evaluating new initiatives and streamlining existing ones while expanding its role in data analytics. Both Gibbs and current CEO Executive Director Matthew Klein, hired in 2014, are enthusiastic about de Blasio&rsquo;s efforts.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an interview with Gotham Gazette, Klein explained the ways in which the center has evolved. &ldquo;The mayor has a strong focus on broad, big-scale change,&rdquo; Klein explained of his boss, de Blasio. This means adjusting to the mayor's priorities: the CEO is now working closely alongside the Department of Education to monitor the implementation of the universal pre-kindergarten program, which Klein described as an "all hands on deck effort across the administration." Klein also appeared at the American Enterprise Institute panel to detail CEO&rsquo;s new direction.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s new <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/careerpathways/downloads/pdf/career-pathways-full-report.pdf" target="_blank">Career Pathways</a> approach, one that has been adopted at federal, state, and local levels across the country, relies on a network of industry partnerships that unites public and private stakeholders to design and develop curricula and training programs that match workforce shortages. In short, Career Pathways provides the skill development and Industry Partnerships provides the jobs: Career Pathways the supply, Industry Partnerships the demand.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Office Of Workforce Development, formerly the Office of Human Capital Development, has assumed a coordinating role to oversee the complex maze of agencies, providers, funders, and stakeholders that the plan requires to produce its anti-poverty and workforce development programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">By shifting to Career Pathways, the administration abandoned an old model of rapidly pairing workers with available jobs (&ldquo;rapid-attachment&rdquo;), instead investing in the skill building and education that produce lasting employment. The de Blasio administration is making an informed decision: the Career Pathways model has received support from <a href="https://www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/PDF/career_pathways_toolkit.pdf" target="_blank">The US Department of Labor&rsquo;s Employment and Training Administration</a>, as well as the <a href="https://lincs.ed.gov/professional-development/resource-collections/profile-556" target="_blank">US Department of Education&rsquo;s Office of Vocational and Adult Education</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the beginning of de Blasio&rsquo;s term, the CEO poverty rate was at 20.7%, with 45.2% of New Yorkers living in near poverty - a term identifying the population living below 150% of the CEO poverty line. The administration <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/938-15/city-marks-significant-progress-key-areas-one-year-after-release-career-pathways-report" target="_blank">claims</a> that new training, entrepreneurship, and &ldquo;bridge programs&rdquo; have already served over 18,000 residents as of December 2015. There were also significant increases in youth employment, with the Summer Youth Employment Program expanding to reach 54,000 participants.</p> <p dir="ltr">The new de Blasio strategy hinges on a dramatic redirection of the Human Resources Administration, which has been under the direction of Steve Banks since de Blasio appointed him in 2014. Moving away from pre-existing job placement initiatives, the agency now instead <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6177-in-departure-from-predecessors-de-blasio-administration-overhauls-city-welfare-system" target="_blank">prioritizes</a> redirected HRA programs and new bridge programs that provide low-skill job seekers with education and remedial training to find career-track employment in needy job sectors.</p> <p dir="ltr">Like those of CEO, these programs are held accountable by data collection. The de Blasio administration calls these evaluatory statistics "common metrics," outlined in its original OneNYC plan, designed to align data and definitions to create a shared data collection system across all workforce programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the Career Pathways approach has a place for successful CEO programs like WorkAdvance and Project Rise, the only CEO program highlighted in the OneNYC workforce development vision is the star CUNY ASAP initiative. The de Blasio administration has decided to chart his own path, with its own programmatic approach, instead of relying on the experimental nature of CEO.</p> <p dir="ltr">So far, the Career Pathways vision has proven to be unwieldy for the same reasons it is heralded. The large web of new and redesigned education and training programs are more intensive and expensive than the preceding placement programs. In addition, the common metrics that provide accountability are in place, but somewhat disorganized: over a year into the approach common metrics have not been fully coordinated and integrated. The CEO is collaborating with the current administration to coordinate this data collection.</p> <p dir="ltr">If the budding Career Pathways strategy succeeds, the current administration will, in part, have Bloomberg&rsquo;s groundbreaking CEO to thank.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Bloomberg&rsquo;s Incubator</strong><br />A brainchild of a <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/068-06/mayor-bloomberg-appoints-members-city-s-commission-economic-opportunity" target="_blank">2006 poverty commission</a>, the "laboratory for experimentation" known as the Center for Economic Opportunity took advantage of a $100 million budget to pilot over 60 unconventional anti-poverty programs, each subjected to statistical evaluations that would determine its longevity.</p> <p dir="ltr">Under the initial direction of executive director Veronica M. White, the CEO&rsquo;s center&rsquo;s initial funding came from a public-private partnership comprised of a new investment of tax dollars and philanthropic partners; the philosophy was indicative of the larger Bloomberg approach to government: infuse private sector principles to the public sector.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Gibbs_Doar_panel_1.png" alt="Gibbs Doar panel 1" width="300" height="222" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" />Over time, CEO&rsquo;s staunchly quantitative approach to anti-poverty reform fostered what Gibbs describes as "an accountability for outcomes and evaluation.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s data-centric design was a reaction to its environment, typical of the slow-to-change government that Bloomberg often railed against.</p> <p dir="ltr">"People, particularly in the social services, fall behind many other sectors," former Deputy Mayor Gibbs told Gotham Gazette in a phone interview. "We do things because we believe they are the right thing to do, we believe they are good and virtuous and helping people in need, but we don't always give ourselves the same level of accountability for whether or not our great idea will actually produce good."</p> <p dir="ltr">The CEO's Darwinian approach reflected the entrepreneurial mind of its captain, a mayor more than willing to experiment with city government.</p> <p dir="ltr">One of CEOs early successes was the Office of Financial Empowerment. Created within the Department of Consumer Affairs in 2006, <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/partners/financial-empowerment.page" target="_blank">OFE</a> fought to "make work pay" through expansions of income supplements, public health insurance, and the earned income tax credit, among other programs.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Gibbs and Doar, an early evaluation showed $3 million in savings for 22,000 clients, and $22.5 million in total debt reduction. In July, Gotham Gazette<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/6429-new-consumer-affairs-commissioner-inherits-robust-agency-and-big-challenges" target="_blank"> reported</a> that OFE has been incrementally expanded during Mayor de Blasio&rsquo;s tenure, now headed by Executive Director Debra-Ellen Glickstein, who signed on in 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr">Other CEO initiatives, like WorkAdvance, provided vulnerable New Yorkers with occupational skill training and industry-recognized certifications before coordinating placement in high-demand sectors. This humanistic approach included both pre-employment and job retention services to ensure effectiveness and instill confidence in job seekers. The program was hand-picked for national replication through a partnership with the Social Innovation Fund (SIF): a public-private partnership identifying evidence-based approaches to social challenges.</p> <p dir="ltr">At the American Enterprise Institute panel with Gibbs and Doar, Gordon Berlin, president of MDRC, emphasized the significance of the grant, citing the "cross city partnership" it created. "The SIF really helped secure the CEO's future, role, and position in the national debate about federal poverty policy," Berlin said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tested in New York, Northeast Ohio, and Oklahoma, the expanded WorkAdvance program boasted two-year advantages at all sites (when compared to a control group) of 31% in training completion and 12-41% in sectoral employment, along with instances of earnings boosts up to 26%, according to an MDRC <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-findings-show-that-workadvance-sectoral-training-and-advancement-program-boosts-earnings-for-low-income-workers-300290765.html" target="_blank">report</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The only CEO program highlighted in Mayor de Blasio&rsquo;s OneNYC Career Pathways workforce development vision is the aforementioned CUNY ASAP, now available to 17,000 full-time students across 24 campuses. The CUNY program helps students earn associate degrees by providing supplemental financial and personal assistance with the goal of increasing credits earned and lowering cost per degree.</p> <p dir="ltr">The effort rose to national fame when President Obama mentioned ASAP by name in a 2015 address regarding a proposal to offer free tuition for more community college students. Creating an educated, debt-free workforce could have significant anti-poverty ramifications: a 2015 ASAP<a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/09/fact-sheet-white-house-unveils-america-s-college-promise-proposal-tuitio" target="_blank"> study</a> claims that by 2020, an estimated 35% of job openings will require a bachelor&rsquo;s degree, and 30% more will require a college or associate&rsquo;s degree. The country&rsquo;s student debt crisis is well <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/07/the-scariest-student-loan-number/492023/" target="_blank">documented</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">As of June, the program<a href="http://www1.cuny.edu/sites/asap/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2016/06/ASAP_Program_Overview_Web.pdf" target="_blank"> claims</a> a 53% to 23% (control group) advantage in graduation rates. The current incarnation of CUNY ASAP, located at all six city community colleges, reported a Spring enrollment of over 8,000 students, and projects to double that total this Fall. CEO Deputy Executive Director Carson Hicks told Gotham Gazette that the program is on track to reach 25,000 students by the 2018-2019 academic year.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Expanded Vision</strong><br />Mayor de Blasio hopes the Career Pathways approach, made possible by strategic industry partnerships, will build on the CEO legacy of impactful training and education programs held accountable by stringent data collection and evaluation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Three new HRA programs include CareerAdvance, CareerCompass, and YouthPathways, which replaced programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).</p> <p dir="ltr">A Center for an Urban Future <a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/Building_the_Workforce_of_the_Future.pdf" target="_blank">analysis</a> of Career Pathways, released last month, commends the change, observing that old TANF initiatives were both low-paying and unaligned with the career goals of clients. There was also a lack of individualized assessment, made evident by the fact that the programs did not take into account the age of their clients.</p> <p dir="ltr">De Blasio also cites Computer Science for All as an early success and part of long-term plans to create opportunity and reduce poverty. Launched in 2015, the program aims to deliver computer science education to public school students through elementary, middle, and high school. The administration says it will make the program available to all students by 2025 in order to accommodate a job market that increasingly rewards the technically proficient (CSFA references a 57% tech employment hike 2007-2014).</p> <p dir="ltr">Computer Science for All is funded by a public-private partnership with the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education and the Robin Hood Foundation, and is part of the mayor&rsquo;s <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/618-15/equity-excellence-mayor-de-blasio-reforms-raise-achievement-across-all-public" target="_blank">Equity and Excellence agenda</a>, which includes AP for All: a program designed to provide students at all 400 city high schools with access to five AP courses by 2021. Both programs intend to address the troubling disparity between education opportunities for many black and Hispanic youth and their more privileged counterparts.</p> <p dir="ltr">The administration has also overseen a new investment in bridge programs that provide remedial training for skill-deficient workers. The CEO was brought in to develop programs connecting participants with healthcare training opportunities, also collaborating with CUNY to launch the Building Bridges Professional Development course that gathered over 50 community-based organizations in summer of 2015. That same winter, The NYC Bridge Bank was established to provide program curricula, design manuals, and teacher guides for Career Pathways implementation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Across workforce development, the de Blasio administration is operating with increased capital: according to the same Center for an Urban Future <a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/Building_the_Workforce_of_the_Future.pdf" target="_blank">report</a>, the city has increased its annual spending budget for workforce services from $500 million in fiscal year 2014 to just over $600 million in fiscal year 2016. Mayor de Blasio has committed to increasing occupational and training programs to $100 million and bridge programs to $60 million annually by 2020.</p> <p dir="ltr">To coordinate these moving parts, the administration converted the once-perfunctory Office of Human Capital Development into the <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/html/ohcd/html/home/home.shtml" target="_blank">Office of Workforce Development</a> to serve the essential role of guiding and coordinating with the three main agencies that together control almost all of the money that flows into workforce development: the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), and the Human Resources Administration (HRA), according to Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, a senior researcher at the Center for an Urban Future.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lazar Treschan, director of youth policy at Community Service Society, a nonprofit focused on poverty reduction, is supportive of the new Career Pathways direction. &ldquo;The reforms have been terrific in terms of vision, planning, ideas,&rdquo; Treschan told Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;One thing that is missing is additional investment,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;Ideas will only take you so far. At some point we do need the money.&rdquo; Treschan noted that new money would come from the city, as current workforce money largely comes from the state and federal government.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Reality Check</strong><br />Despite the promising launch of initiatives like HireNYC, a targeted hiring program that connects job seekers to positions created by the city&rsquo;s purchases and investments, there has not been enough permanent funding in the workforce system and investment in provider organizations to bring about the advanced system of referrals and partnerships that the nascent Career Pathways strategy requires, analysts say.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The new system really shows a lot of promise to consolidate programs that once existed in silence," Rivera said. Published in July, Rivera conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Career Pathways, informed by interviews with over 30 workforce development experts. "The city for the first time is actually investing in bridge programs&hellip;it's really on the ground level right now. So a lot of investment has been made already. A lot of shift in culture has happened," Rivera said.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, Rivera wonders about whether the de Blasio administration has overreached. "When you look at all levels, there is not enough money to serve all the people who need to be served with these higher touch expensive programs&hellip;the bridge programs are at least one-and-a-half or even two times more expensive as regular adult basic education programs. We're going to need more investment in order to make this happen."</p> <p dir="ltr">In his report, Rivera uncovered why there isn't enough money flowing into Career Pathways initiatives. "The programs tend to be funded at least in part through private philanthropic dollars and to operate on a limited scale. Public investment is hampered at the federal level by restrictions and rules imposed by funding sources, and at the local level by a limited understanding on part of city agencies of the needs of community-based organizations in the cost structures of the programs they run."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Data Accountability</strong><br />Another key shortcoming of the Career Pathways rollout involves the coordinating office, which is, as of April, headed by Executive Director Barbara Chang. In its current incarnation, the Office of Workforce Development (WKDEV) has limited power and influence to make programming and funding decisions, according to Rivera.</p> <p dir="ltr">Unlike the CEO model where design, evaluation, and funding are all consolidated into one adaptable, independent body, WKDEV purely serves a guiding role. "CEO actually has money to pilot programs, the Office of Workforce Development just has enough to basically pay salaries," Rivera explained. "That's one of the problems: basically, it's a coordinating agency, it should be an agency that should have more control over program development, but it doesn't." Rivera&rsquo;s critique, which relates to CEO, boils down to: "Work-dev [WKDEV] can advise, but in the end they are not accountable."</p> <p dir="ltr">One of the Office of Workforce Development's chief responsibilities is to create a set of common metrics to measure performance of Career Pathways programs. However, Rivera reports that WKDEV is only now sitting down with the different agencies (HRA, SBS, DYDC) to catalog outcome measures, compare definitions, and determine relevant measures for integration into each program.</p> <p dir="ltr">Rivera explained why this will be a difficult process. "Even a measure like number of people served can have a different definition from one agency to the next," he explained. "The other problem is that programs work with very different populations. You can&rsquo;t expect an organization that serves community college students to have the same outcomes as one that serves high school dropouts who read at less than the sixth grade level."</p> <p>The avoidable disorder of data systems begs the obvious question: why weren't common metrics squared away earlier? "That was actually a question I asked the director of the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development,&rdquo; Rivera said. &ldquo;Why start with programs instead of the common metrics?" His answer? The decision had less to do with accountability and more with self-preservation.</p> <p dir="ltr">"These agencies depend on meeting certain outcomes to continue receiving money. So, HRA has to prove to the federal government that it did what the federal government wanted it to do in order to continue receiving money and not get penalties. And so any kind of outside evaluation that shows that maybe they are not doing their job as well as they said they are, or basically if you measure them with a different yardstick that says they're not doing as well, anything like that, can potentially be threatening. So it's very dicey. It's very political, for that reason."</p> <p dir="ltr">There is the obvious comparison to the way the CEO closely monitored its initiatives. "These are (CEO) programs that still have an evaluation component, and they basically represent the gold standard for how these (Career Pathways) programs should be measured.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">"In fact," Rivera added, "that's part of the inspiration that work-dev took in order to start measuring common metrics."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Today&rsquo;s Driver</strong><br />Today, the Center for Economic Opportunity is less of an active player than it was under Bloomberg, assuming a supporting role in the current administration. The center still manages to conduct annual poverty measures and build on existing initiatives like the redesigned Young Adult Literacy Program, while spearheading others like an upcoming mental health service integration project made possible by a 2015 Social Impact Fund grant.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio is eager to capitalize on the CEO's analytical capabilities: Executive Director Klein reported at the American Enterprise Institute panel that there are 39 CEO evaluations either launched, underway, or completed within the last two years.</p> <p dir="ltr">Klein also detailed CEO&rsquo;s role in establishing common metrics among the dissimilar Career Pathways programs. When challenged on the rollout, Klein emphasized that the right plan was there from the beginning, even if execution faltered somewhat. &ldquo;Common metrics was largely set in terms of the definitions of the metrics themselves by the time the (Career Pathways) report was issued," Klein said, before offering an addendum. "There may have been one or two areas that needed final refinement to align across agencies."</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It sounds very simple, but it&rsquo;s a complex undertaking&hellip;you&rsquo;re talking about a changed management approach across multiple agencies and dozens of funding streams with old legacy data systems,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t feel that bad about the timeline that we&rsquo;re on.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">By large, de Blasio's appreciation for the CEO approach is evident in the way he conducts his anti-poverty and workforce development reform. Even former Deputy Mayor Gibbs spoke with warmth when describing the current mayor's efforts.</p> <p>"We very much hoped that the de Blasio administration would continue with the CEO as an institution, and a framework, and also hoped that we could share the lessons so that others could do it as well, so we were super excited when de Blasio did exactly that," Gibbs said. "He embraced it and continued it, and I think what's really great is that he made it his own as well.&rdquo;</p> <p>

***
by Benjamin Jurney for Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
In the Age of De Blasio, A Bloomberg Era Small School Reunion 2016-08-28T04:00:00+00:00 2016-08-28T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6502:in-the-age-of-de-blasio-a-bloomberg-era-small-school-reunion Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/reunion_photo_Andrea_story1.jpg" alt="reunion photo Andrea story1" width="600" height="360" /></p> <p>reunion photo by&nbsp;Chrystina Russell, former principal of Global Tech</p> <hr /> <p>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&rsquo;s first class of eighth-graders, who were now, four years after their middle-school commencement, graduating from high school.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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 Fari&ntilde;a. A number of changes, some driven by the new administration&rsquo;s desire to merge small schools&mdash;a major departure from Bloomberg policy&mdash;foreshadowed significant shifts at the school.</p> <p dir="ltr">I learned about Global Tech when I served on the New York State Regents&rsquo; 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&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Pryce-Harvey and Russell had met in the New York City Teaching Fellows program and hit it off immediately&mdash;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&rsquo;s technological skills didn&rsquo;t extend much beyond sending emails.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;t have to worry as much about not knowing the texts written by old white men, she was sure.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, both women were part of a generation of educators who had developed their careers in the wake of New York City&rsquo;s small-schools movement, which dates back at least to Tony Alvarado and Debbie Meier&rsquo;s &ldquo;Miracle in Harlem,&rdquo; which began in District 4 in the 1970s, and was newly embraced by Bloomberg.</p> <p dir="ltr">Global Tech joined the administration&rsquo;s &ldquo;Innovation Zone,&rdquo; or iZone initiative, to use &ldquo;new&rdquo; 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 &nbsp;New York City years before the Bloomberg administration.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Many early iZone schools dropped out of the program. But Global Tech thrived, and the school eagerly signed onto Chancellor Joel Klein&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Pryce-Harvey was willing to help mid-wife the new school and to serve as the unofficial assistant principal&mdash;at least until she completed the administrator&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">And so it was that during the summer of 2009 the two women began hosting Sunday brunches in Pryce-Harvey&rsquo;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&rsquo;s frequent travel companion to Albany, she invited me to attend the brunches and watch the school incubate.</p> <p dir="ltr">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 &ldquo;unsatisfactory&rdquo; at the South Bronx school where he was then teaching, and feared he would be unfairly forced out.</p> <p dir="ltr">Both Baiz and Bridgemohan <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/1148-when-making-a-great-teacher-is-a-team-effort" target="_blank">had been mentored</a> by Pryce-Harvey at PS/MS 4 in the South Bronx, which all three described as utterly dysfunctional and were eager to escape.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Russell&rsquo;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, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/61-topics/technology/504-a-harlem-middle-school-bets-on-technology" target="_blank">provided a home computer</a> for every Global Tech child.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&mdash;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&rsquo;s train tickets to work.</p> <p dir="ltr">When I asked Russell, recently, if she could ever see herself back in the public school system, she responded elliptically: &ldquo;The Bloomberg-Klein years were the ones for me.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Russell groomed David Baiz as her successor. She had once said of Baiz: &ldquo;David is skilled; he&rsquo;s always moving forward.&rdquo; &ldquo;[H]e gives 125 percent&rdquo; virtually every day, she added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Baiz&rsquo;s accomplishments at Global Tech <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/1148-when-making-a-great-teacher-is-a-team-effort" target="_blank">were considerable</a>. 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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Pryce-Harvey has taken over as principal of P.S. 7, the K-to-8 school that shares a building with Global Tech.</p> <p dir="ltr">The promotions of Baiz and Pryce-Harvey are a testament to Global Tech&rsquo;s reputation. During 2012-2013, the school&rsquo;s third year, and the last year for which such data is available&mdash;the de Blasio administration discontinued school grades as well as test-score comparisons among &ldquo;peer&rdquo; schools&mdash;Global Tech&rsquo;s student growth scores were far above &ldquo;peer schools&rdquo; in both ELA and math. The scores were especially high for kids in the &ldquo;bottom third&rdquo; of their classes.</p> <p dir="ltr">In math, the &ldquo;growth scores&rdquo; of the bottom-third of Global Tech students almost equaled the performance of a comparable cohort of students citywide&mdash;that is schools with both affluent and poor children. Global Tech also enjoyed a 94 percent attendance rate, far above &ldquo;peer&rdquo; schools. The school earned an &ldquo;A&rdquo; for the student progress portion of the report card, which measures how much individual students improved over the previous year, and a &ldquo;highly developed&rdquo; on the academic rigor portion of the evaluation.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">But the future of Global Tech also could turn out to be a referendum on the leadership of Carmen Fari&ntilde;a, who is not particularly keen on small schools, and is reputed never to have met a Bloomberg-era innovation that she likes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even as Baiz and Russell, who had just returned from Rwanda, were hastily putting together the reunion, the future of the school is uncertain.</p> <p dir="ltr">For the reunion, close to half of the 60-or-so students in Global Tech&rsquo;s first cohort showed up in the school&rsquo;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&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Almost every alum at the reunion said she or he was going on to college&mdash;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&mdash;and sometimes homeless&mdash;she is instead going to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">To hear Kaira tell it, school, especially at Global Tech, has been a refuge and a beacon. &ldquo;It may be that I&rsquo;m struggling with a problem in English class or math, but it&rsquo;s nothing like whatever struggle I deal with at home,&rdquo; Kaira said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s easier to find solutions&rdquo; to those academic problems, than the ones she faces in her personal life.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My education has always been a therapeutic experience,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That place where I can escape.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">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, &ldquo;which is bizarre,&rdquo; says the 18-year-old with a big smile.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tabitha, Kaira&rsquo;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&rsquo;s administration. Tabitha, too, succeeded in graduating and is planning on attending community college.</p> <p dir="ltr">Miguel said of himself, at the reunion, that he had been a &ldquo;horrible student&rdquo; at Global Tech, one who was &ldquo;always suspended&rdquo;&mdash;though the suspensions usually involved doing his school work in Russell&rsquo;s office. He transferred in and out of high schools, but eventually got his GED. He&rsquo;s now enrolling in CUNY&rsquo;s BMCC and planning to major in business management.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Quentin went from Global Tech to Cardinal Hayes, which he described as a &ldquo;really good&rdquo; 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 &ldquo;difficult,&rdquo; he says. He &ldquo;got too comfortable,&rdquo; but snapped back at the &ldquo;last second.&rdquo; He says he&rsquo;s going to Monroe College in New Rochelle. His goal, he says without prompting, is &ldquo;to take my mom out of the &lsquo;hood.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Several students who didn&rsquo;t get word of the reunion in time or couldn&rsquo;t attend also are headed to college, among them David and Derek.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Global Tech is a real family,&rdquo; 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. &ldquo;Of all the schools Amanda went to, this was the one with heart,&rdquo; Maria said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet, not all Global Tech graduates have overcome the considerable obstacles these kids face&mdash;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. &ldquo;I'm devastated,&rdquo; emailed Russell when she first got the news this Spring. &ldquo;Love that kid. And wow did Jackie and I ever spend a lot of time with him and his family.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Russell and Pryce-Harvey both visited Franklin at Rikers and Russell showed up in court. Russell, who says she considers Franklin&rsquo;s incarceration a &ldquo;personal failure,&rdquo; has petitioned the judge to allow her to take Franklin with her to Boston&mdash;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&rsquo;s decision. Russell says of Franklin: &ldquo;He has no hate in his heart. And he is so smart.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In a letter he wrote to the judge while he was incarcerated at Rikers, Franklin <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/days-inside-rikers-island-39249132" target="_blank">pleaded</a> for the opportunity to finish his education.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;t seen each other in four years reconnected.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet, unbeknownst to its alumni, Global Tech faces an uncertain future. In a reversal of Bloomberg&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;s leadership and that Talati continue running the P.S. 7 elementary school. Talati, &nbsp;however, is said to have made a bid to run both schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;s most recent quality review, dated 2014-2015, was decidedly mediocre even though more than one experienced educator has referred to him as &ldquo;one of the best principals in Harlem.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">On the only &ldquo;quality review&rdquo; posted by the DOE under Fari&ntilde;a, Global Tech earned a &ldquo;developing&rdquo;&mdash;the second lowest on a four-point scale&mdash;on two of five evaluation criteria, and a &ldquo;proficient&rdquo; on three criteria. The school did not earn a single &ldquo;well developed&rdquo;&mdash;the highest rating&mdash;not even for school culture, even though, since its inception, Global Tech has scored off-the-charts school-environment surveys.</p> <p dir="ltr">By contrast, the administration gave P.S. 7, under Talati, six &lsquo;proficients,&rsquo; four &lsquo;well-developeds,&rsquo; and no &lsquo;developings&rsquo; on his last quality review in 2013-2014, on a slightly more detailed rubric than the one used by the DOE the following year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Similarly, on P.S. 7&rsquo;s next quality review, which took place just two months after Pryce-Harvey took over, the school received four &lsquo;proficients,&rsquo; one &lsquo;well-developed,&rsquo; and no &lsquo;developings.&rsquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Baiz&rsquo;s mistake, says one educator close to the school, was that he didn&rsquo;t &ldquo;play the game,&rdquo; relying on the reviewer to look at the students &ldquo;digital portfolios&rdquo; where students keep copies of their work.</p> <p dir="ltr">Russell also believes that Baiz&rsquo;s reluctance to fight the planned takeover by P.S. 7 may have been &ldquo;viewed as weakness&rdquo; by the superintendent.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&mdash;including curriculum, parent engagement, and teacher evaluations.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;s best principals conceded that the businessman-mayor&rsquo;s school administration had made their lives easier. For principals who survived the New York City iZone&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, the Bloomberg/Klein era was also one of creative destruction, which has been described by insiders as a deliberate Humpty Dumpty strategy&mdash;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&mdash;control over their budgets&mdash;has not proved sacrosanct. For example, when Baiz sought to promote Bridgemohan, his long-time colleague, to fill Pryce-Harvey&rsquo;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&rsquo;s seven year history.</p> <p dir="ltr">Estrella did not return repeated requests for an interview.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;s micromanagement.</p> <p dir="ltr">For Global Tech, one of the few certainties is that as long as Baiz and the school&rsquo;s long-time teachers remain, they will continue to serve a much needed support for students and alums.</p> <p><em>PRIOR COVERAGE OF GLOBAL TECH, THE IZONE, &amp; MORE FROM ANDREA GABOR:</em></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/61-topics/technology/504-a-harlem-middle-school-bets-on-technology" target="_blank">A Harlem Middle School Bets on Technology</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/609-city-schools-gamble-on-going-digital" target="_blank">City Schools Gamble on Going Digitial</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/education/4227-in-the-waning-months-of-bloombergs-tenure-a-signature-education-innovation-is-at-a-crossroads" target="_blank">In the Waning Months of Bloomberg's Tenure, A Signature Education Innovation is at a Crossroads</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/1148-when-making-a-great-teacher-is-a-team-effort" target="_blank">When Making a Great Teacher is a Team Effort</a></p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />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 <a href="https://twitter.com/aagabor" target="_blank">@aagabor</a>.</p> <p>

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/reunion_photo_Andrea_story1.jpg" alt="reunion photo Andrea story1" width="600" height="360" /></p> <p>reunion photo by&nbsp;Chrystina Russell, former principal of Global Tech</p> <hr /> <p>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&rsquo;s first class of eighth-graders, who were now, four years after their middle-school commencement, graduating from high school.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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 Fari&ntilde;a. A number of changes, some driven by the new administration&rsquo;s desire to merge small schools&mdash;a major departure from Bloomberg policy&mdash;foreshadowed significant shifts at the school.</p> <p dir="ltr">I learned about Global Tech when I served on the New York State Regents&rsquo; 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&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Pryce-Harvey and Russell had met in the New York City Teaching Fellows program and hit it off immediately&mdash;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&rsquo;s technological skills didn&rsquo;t extend much beyond sending emails.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;t have to worry as much about not knowing the texts written by old white men, she was sure.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, both women were part of a generation of educators who had developed their careers in the wake of New York City&rsquo;s small-schools movement, which dates back at least to Tony Alvarado and Debbie Meier&rsquo;s &ldquo;Miracle in Harlem,&rdquo; which began in District 4 in the 1970s, and was newly embraced by Bloomberg.</p> <p dir="ltr">Global Tech joined the administration&rsquo;s &ldquo;Innovation Zone,&rdquo; or iZone initiative, to use &ldquo;new&rdquo; 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 &nbsp;New York City years before the Bloomberg administration.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Many early iZone schools dropped out of the program. But Global Tech thrived, and the school eagerly signed onto Chancellor Joel Klein&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Pryce-Harvey was willing to help mid-wife the new school and to serve as the unofficial assistant principal&mdash;at least until she completed the administrator&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">And so it was that during the summer of 2009 the two women began hosting Sunday brunches in Pryce-Harvey&rsquo;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&rsquo;s frequent travel companion to Albany, she invited me to attend the brunches and watch the school incubate.</p> <p dir="ltr">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 &ldquo;unsatisfactory&rdquo; at the South Bronx school where he was then teaching, and feared he would be unfairly forced out.</p> <p dir="ltr">Both Baiz and Bridgemohan <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/1148-when-making-a-great-teacher-is-a-team-effort" target="_blank">had been mentored</a> by Pryce-Harvey at PS/MS 4 in the South Bronx, which all three described as utterly dysfunctional and were eager to escape.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.)</p> <p dir="ltr">Russell&rsquo;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, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/61-topics/technology/504-a-harlem-middle-school-bets-on-technology" target="_blank">provided a home computer</a> for every Global Tech child.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&mdash;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&rsquo;s train tickets to work.</p> <p dir="ltr">When I asked Russell, recently, if she could ever see herself back in the public school system, she responded elliptically: &ldquo;The Bloomberg-Klein years were the ones for me.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Russell groomed David Baiz as her successor. She had once said of Baiz: &ldquo;David is skilled; he&rsquo;s always moving forward.&rdquo; &ldquo;[H]e gives 125 percent&rdquo; virtually every day, she added.</p> <p dir="ltr">Baiz&rsquo;s accomplishments at Global Tech <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/1148-when-making-a-great-teacher-is-a-team-effort" target="_blank">were considerable</a>. 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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Pryce-Harvey has taken over as principal of P.S. 7, the K-to-8 school that shares a building with Global Tech.</p> <p dir="ltr">The promotions of Baiz and Pryce-Harvey are a testament to Global Tech&rsquo;s reputation. During 2012-2013, the school&rsquo;s third year, and the last year for which such data is available&mdash;the de Blasio administration discontinued school grades as well as test-score comparisons among &ldquo;peer&rdquo; schools&mdash;Global Tech&rsquo;s student growth scores were far above &ldquo;peer schools&rdquo; in both ELA and math. The scores were especially high for kids in the &ldquo;bottom third&rdquo; of their classes.</p> <p dir="ltr">In math, the &ldquo;growth scores&rdquo; of the bottom-third of Global Tech students almost equaled the performance of a comparable cohort of students citywide&mdash;that is schools with both affluent and poor children. Global Tech also enjoyed a 94 percent attendance rate, far above &ldquo;peer&rdquo; schools. The school earned an &ldquo;A&rdquo; for the student progress portion of the report card, which measures how much individual students improved over the previous year, and a &ldquo;highly developed&rdquo; on the academic rigor portion of the evaluation.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">But the future of Global Tech also could turn out to be a referendum on the leadership of Carmen Fari&ntilde;a, who is not particularly keen on small schools, and is reputed never to have met a Bloomberg-era innovation that she likes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even as Baiz and Russell, who had just returned from Rwanda, were hastily putting together the reunion, the future of the school is uncertain.</p> <p dir="ltr">For the reunion, close to half of the 60-or-so students in Global Tech&rsquo;s first cohort showed up in the school&rsquo;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&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Almost every alum at the reunion said she or he was going on to college&mdash;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&mdash;and sometimes homeless&mdash;she is instead going to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">To hear Kaira tell it, school, especially at Global Tech, has been a refuge and a beacon. &ldquo;It may be that I&rsquo;m struggling with a problem in English class or math, but it&rsquo;s nothing like whatever struggle I deal with at home,&rdquo; Kaira said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s easier to find solutions&rdquo; to those academic problems, than the ones she faces in her personal life.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My education has always been a therapeutic experience,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That place where I can escape.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">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, &ldquo;which is bizarre,&rdquo; says the 18-year-old with a big smile.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tabitha, Kaira&rsquo;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&rsquo;s administration. Tabitha, too, succeeded in graduating and is planning on attending community college.</p> <p dir="ltr">Miguel said of himself, at the reunion, that he had been a &ldquo;horrible student&rdquo; at Global Tech, one who was &ldquo;always suspended&rdquo;&mdash;though the suspensions usually involved doing his school work in Russell&rsquo;s office. He transferred in and out of high schools, but eventually got his GED. He&rsquo;s now enrolling in CUNY&rsquo;s BMCC and planning to major in business management.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Quentin went from Global Tech to Cardinal Hayes, which he described as a &ldquo;really good&rdquo; 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 &ldquo;difficult,&rdquo; he says. He &ldquo;got too comfortable,&rdquo; but snapped back at the &ldquo;last second.&rdquo; He says he&rsquo;s going to Monroe College in New Rochelle. His goal, he says without prompting, is &ldquo;to take my mom out of the &lsquo;hood.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">Several students who didn&rsquo;t get word of the reunion in time or couldn&rsquo;t attend also are headed to college, among them David and Derek.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Global Tech is a real family,&rdquo; 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. &ldquo;Of all the schools Amanda went to, this was the one with heart,&rdquo; Maria said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet, not all Global Tech graduates have overcome the considerable obstacles these kids face&mdash;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. &ldquo;I'm devastated,&rdquo; emailed Russell when she first got the news this Spring. &ldquo;Love that kid. And wow did Jackie and I ever spend a lot of time with him and his family.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Russell and Pryce-Harvey both visited Franklin at Rikers and Russell showed up in court. Russell, who says she considers Franklin&rsquo;s incarceration a &ldquo;personal failure,&rdquo; has petitioned the judge to allow her to take Franklin with her to Boston&mdash;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&rsquo;s decision. Russell says of Franklin: &ldquo;He has no hate in his heart. And he is so smart.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In a letter he wrote to the judge while he was incarcerated at Rikers, Franklin <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/days-inside-rikers-island-39249132" target="_blank">pleaded</a> for the opportunity to finish his education.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;t seen each other in four years reconnected.</p> <p dir="ltr">Yet, unbeknownst to its alumni, Global Tech faces an uncertain future. In a reversal of Bloomberg&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;s leadership and that Talati continue running the P.S. 7 elementary school. Talati, &nbsp;however, is said to have made a bid to run both schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;s most recent quality review, dated 2014-2015, was decidedly mediocre even though more than one experienced educator has referred to him as &ldquo;one of the best principals in Harlem.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">On the only &ldquo;quality review&rdquo; posted by the DOE under Fari&ntilde;a, Global Tech earned a &ldquo;developing&rdquo;&mdash;the second lowest on a four-point scale&mdash;on two of five evaluation criteria, and a &ldquo;proficient&rdquo; on three criteria. The school did not earn a single &ldquo;well developed&rdquo;&mdash;the highest rating&mdash;not even for school culture, even though, since its inception, Global Tech has scored off-the-charts school-environment surveys.</p> <p dir="ltr">By contrast, the administration gave P.S. 7, under Talati, six &lsquo;proficients,&rsquo; four &lsquo;well-developeds,&rsquo; and no &lsquo;developings&rsquo; on his last quality review in 2013-2014, on a slightly more detailed rubric than the one used by the DOE the following year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Similarly, on P.S. 7&rsquo;s next quality review, which took place just two months after Pryce-Harvey took over, the school received four &lsquo;proficients,&rsquo; one &lsquo;well-developed,&rsquo; and no &lsquo;developings.&rsquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Baiz&rsquo;s mistake, says one educator close to the school, was that he didn&rsquo;t &ldquo;play the game,&rdquo; relying on the reviewer to look at the students &ldquo;digital portfolios&rdquo; where students keep copies of their work.</p> <p dir="ltr">Russell also believes that Baiz&rsquo;s reluctance to fight the planned takeover by P.S. 7 may have been &ldquo;viewed as weakness&rdquo; by the superintendent.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&mdash;including curriculum, parent engagement, and teacher evaluations.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;s best principals conceded that the businessman-mayor&rsquo;s school administration had made their lives easier. For principals who survived the New York City iZone&rsquo;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, the Bloomberg/Klein era was also one of creative destruction, which has been described by insiders as a deliberate Humpty Dumpty strategy&mdash;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.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&mdash;control over their budgets&mdash;has not proved sacrosanct. For example, when Baiz sought to promote Bridgemohan, his long-time colleague, to fill Pryce-Harvey&rsquo;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&rsquo;s seven year history.</p> <p dir="ltr">Estrella did not return repeated requests for an interview.</p> <p dir="ltr">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&rsquo;s micromanagement.</p> <p dir="ltr">For Global Tech, one of the few certainties is that as long as Baiz and the school&rsquo;s long-time teachers remain, they will continue to serve a much needed support for students and alums.</p> <p><em>PRIOR COVERAGE OF GLOBAL TECH, THE IZONE, &amp; MORE FROM ANDREA GABOR:</em></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/61-topics/technology/504-a-harlem-middle-school-bets-on-technology" target="_blank">A Harlem Middle School Bets on Technology</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/609-city-schools-gamble-on-going-digital" target="_blank">City Schools Gamble on Going Digitial</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/education/4227-in-the-waning-months-of-bloombergs-tenure-a-signature-education-innovation-is-at-a-crossroads" target="_blank">In the Waning Months of Bloomberg's Tenure, A Signature Education Innovation is at a Crossroads</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/city/1148-when-making-a-great-teacher-is-a-team-effort" target="_blank">When Making a Great Teacher is a Team Effort</a></p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />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 <a href="https://twitter.com/aagabor" target="_blank">@aagabor</a>.</p> <p>

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

</p>
With De Blasio Appearing Vulnerable, Heightened Examination of Paths to Defeat Him 2016-08-14T04:00:00+00:00 2016-08-14T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6480:with-de-blasio-appearing-vulnerable-heightened-examination-of-paths-to-defeat-him Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/28132525604_33be991e32_z.jpg" alt="de blasio balcony" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed, Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio often says he doesn&rsquo;t put much stock in public opinion polls; he believes they&rsquo;re about as accurate as weather predictions. When asked, he didn&rsquo;t express much concern after a <a href="https://www.qu.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/new-york-city/release-detail?ReleaseID=2369" target="_blank">Quinnipiac University poll</a> released August 1 showed that 51 percent of New York City voters don&rsquo;t think he deserves to be re-elected in 2017. But even if de Blasio didn&rsquo;t care, his critics and potential opponents surely did, and are likely buoyed in their belief that there is a way to beat an incumbent Democrat who has been arguably the most progressive mayor in the city&rsquo;s history and overseen dropping crime, growing jobs, and a record tourism.</p> <p dir="ltr">As polls show de Blasio&rsquo;s relative weakness, some voices have grown louder calling for his ouster, and potential opponents weigh jumping into the race, one key question is the best path to defeating him. In an overwhelmingly Democratic city that saw 20 years of Republican dominance of the mayoralty before his election, it&rsquo;s not immediately clear where de Blasio is most vulnerable.</p> <p dir="ltr">As can be expected, political consultants are divided on the prospect of de Blasio&rsquo;s re-election. Republican consultants believe he can be beaten if an opponent uses the right strategy, aptly highlighting the mayor&rsquo;s weaknesses, while many Democrats are certain the chances of that are negligible at best.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;[De Blasio&rsquo;s opponents] need to make it a referendum on his competence and his management,&rdquo; said Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist. &ldquo;That includes Democrats, especially in the primaries.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;An incompetent mayor can lose,&rdquo; he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">It is the competence argument that is already being made by the loudest voice to thus far openly declare intention to defeat de Blasio in 2017 - that of consultant Bradley Tusk, who ran former Mayor Michael Bloomberg&rsquo;s third successful mayoral campaign, in 2009. Tusk has said, though, that he believes the most likely path to defeating de Blasio in 2017 is through the Democratic primary. He&rsquo;s currently waging a public relations campaign to damage the mayor while he attempts to recruit the strongest candidate possible.</p> <p dir="ltr">As Tusk and others, even Republicans, acknowledge, the voter registration numbers don&rsquo;t lie. They also see that while de Blasio&rsquo;s approval rating is low, he still has fairly strong support among Democrats, especially African-Americans.</p> <p dir="ltr">In order to beat de Blasio, &ldquo;Republicans and independents will have to appeal to disaffected Democrats and have to bring in pretty much every constituency,&rdquo; said Siegfried. &ldquo;Bill de Blasio is absolutely beatable only if you run a good and strong campaign with a solid candidate...They should aim to peel off the pork from where de Blasio is strong, particularly the African-American community.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">On the Republican end, there are already a few candidates who&rsquo;ve indicated they may run against the mayor, including Queens City Council Member Eric Ulrich; billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, who lost in the 2013 Republican primary; real estate developer Paul Massey; and former professional football player and Harlem pastor Michel Faulkner. The latter two have officially declared their runs.</p> <p dir="ltr">Republican campaign consultant Jessica Proud of The November Team, who is working for Massey&rsquo;s campaign, believes there is a path to victory against the incumbent mayor. &ldquo;Clearly de Blasio has not been able to inspire the confidence of voters,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He has not shown himself to be a good manager of the city.&rdquo; Proud said Massey&rsquo;s appeal is that he&rsquo;s not a politician. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not an ideologue, his approach would be one of good management,&rdquo; she said, with an implicit nod toward a Bloomberg-esque technocrat and citing Massey&rsquo;s top priorities in the campaign: public safety and quality of life issues, housing, and improving city schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">The management issue is a common refrain and relates directly to competence. Even though crime is down, Republican consultants point to polls that show the perception of crime remains skewed. Many people believe other quality of life issues, like street cleanliness, are getting worse even if there is evidence to the contrary. The Quinnipiac poll released August 1 showed that 49 percent of New York City voters disapproved of how the mayor is handling crime, compared to 42 percent who approved.</p> <p dir="ltr">George Arzt, a Democratic consultant, said, &ldquo;[De Blasio is] vulnerable to a challenge but not from a Republican.&rdquo; He said that contenders like Massey or Catsimatidis don&rsquo;t have the same level of resources as Bloomberg did, and that they definitely don&rsquo;t have the political skills or organization. &ldquo;There were circumstances that cannot be duplicated as we see now,&rdquo; he said of Bloomberg&rsquo;s election as a Republican candidate. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s doubtful that anyone even with money can make a go of it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Another Democratic strategist, Hank Sheinkopf, said a Republican candidate could only be elected if the city were to undergo a serious crisis, say a crime wave, massive corruption, or another recession. De Blasio's administration and campaign allies are being investigated on multiple fronts by state and federal law enforcement officials - the results of those investigations could shift political dynamics drastically, of course. Short of major indictments, Sheinkopf did point out early indicators of problems -- certain crimes have increased, like rape, but overall the crime rate is at historic lows; school test scores may be improving but the schools are underperforming in general; violence in the city&rsquo;s jails; and future budget deficits despite the city being flush with cash.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even with those considerations, Sheinkopf said, &ldquo;A fusion candidate will have a better chance,&rdquo; &nbsp;referring to a candidate who runs on multiple party lines. &ldquo;They have the Republican line and other lines which makes it easier for people to vote for them.&rdquo; An effective Republican challenger would have to draw crossover votes from traditionally Democratic voting sections of the population, as Siegfried also suggested and any Republican candidate or consultant must understand.</p> <p dir="ltr">Democrats&rsquo; immense voter registration advantage is simply a reality that all involved in New York City political campaigns must recognize. However, one caveat to the voter registration numbers are the voter turnout numbers, which are often quite low. If a certain candidate, incumbent or otherwise, can motivate more people to vote in a significant mass, an election can be swung.</p> <p dir="ltr">As of April 1, there are more than 4 million <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr16.pdf" target="_blank">active registered voters</a> in the city, of which 2.75 million are Democrats and only 414,478 are Republicans. However, that advantage isn&rsquo;t necessarily borne out by history, a fact pointed to by Steven Romalewski, director of the mapping service at the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center. In an interview with Gotham Gazette, Romalewski said, &ldquo;The enrollment advantage doesn&rsquo;t necessarily tell you much. It matters less than personality of the candidates and the issues. If everyone turned out to vote who is registered to vote and voted the party line, a Democrat would win. But that doesn&rsquo;t always happen.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Romalewski noted that a 2013 general election analysis showed that in certain districts, de Blasio received fewer Democratic votes than the total votes cast by registered Democrats, indicating that some may have voted for his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota. In other districts, de Blasio received more votes than the total Democratic votes cast, meaning he had support from outside the Democratic party as well. There were six major qualified parties and 14 minor parties on the general election ballot, with de Blasio holding the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city also has nearly 800,000 unaffiliated voters, often called &ldquo;independents,&rdquo; which adds another facet to the Democrat-Republican enrollment imbalance.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In 2017, I think the same kind of analysis holds,&rdquo; Romalewski said in an email. &ldquo;If none or just a small number of Democrats vote for de Blasio's opponent, he'll do ok. &nbsp;But if his challenger can persuade enough Dems to "defect," he'll be in trouble.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">But de Blasio&rsquo;s great strength, as Romalewski pointed out, is that he &ldquo;not only did well and much better than the prior three Democratic candidates [for mayor] but also did well in areas where Bloomberg did well. He kinda combined the traditional Democratic base -- Black and Hispanic areas -- with liberal white areas.&rdquo; De Blasio won a dominant 73 percent of the general election vote against Lhota in 2013.</p> <p dir="ltr">Critics point to the fact that only 26 percent of registered voters cast ballots in that election, which indicates some combination of apathy, recognition that de Blasio had a huge polling advantage heading toward Election Day, and limited enthusiasm for Lhota from Republicans and independents.</p> <p dir="ltr">A Republican would have to have a &ldquo;cache&rdquo; of progressive politics combined with the skills of a good manager, Romalewski said, to cut into de Blasio&rsquo;s voter base. &ldquo;The conventional wisdom is that it&rsquo;s unlikely [de Blasio will] have effective challengers,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Most observers assume that the mayor will only face a stiff challenge in the Democratic primary, due to the aforementioned factors and no obvious other big name Republican or independent waiting in the wings. And a tough Democratic primary is only possible, some say, if a single strong candidate runs against de Blasio instead of multiple candidates who could split the anti-de Blasio vote. &ldquo;If two or three Democrats challenge the mayor, he&rsquo;s going to win,&rdquo; said Bill Cunningham, managing director at DKC and former communications director for Bloomberg. &ldquo;If only one runs, there&rsquo;s a chance to coalesce the people who view [de Blasio] unfavorably and give them a place to go vote.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">One other path some experts float would be for a strong African-American candidate to enter the race - someone like Congressional Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, for example - who would chip away at de Blasio&rsquo;s deep African-American base, and one strong white candidate - someone like Comptroller Scott Stringer - who could pick up as many other disaffected Democrats as possible.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cunningham said for a competitive race, &ldquo;You need a message, a messenger and you need to be able to deliver that to the public. There&rsquo;s no mystery to what the recipe is. The trick is finding a candidate who is intelligent and can campaign effectively and has the money to deliver the message to the voters.&rdquo; Bloomberg had those qualities, he pointed out, but the current crop of contenders don&rsquo;t. Along with Stringer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is currently seen as the other most likely Democratic challenger to the mayor.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked about potential opponents, de Blasio has repeatedly said he&rsquo;s ready to take on all comers, at times mentioning the pillars of his term: universal pre-kindergarten, affordable housing, and low crime. At one point last year de Blasio discussed his "record of achievement" and said of potential 2017 opponents, "come one, come all."</p> <p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for de Blasio&rsquo;s campaign, Dan Levitan, emailed a statement about the prospects for 2017, saying, &ldquo;Crime just hit another all-time low, jobs are at record highs, the City is building and preserving affordable housing at a record pace, while graduation rates and test scores continue to improve. That is Mayor de Blasio's record and that is what next year's election will be about.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Even Tusk, who is arguably de Blasio&rsquo;s most vocal opponent right now, acknowledges that he&rsquo;ll be hard pressed to find a candidate who fits the bill of a Democrat with appeal among Republican voters. He recently indicated to the <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/nyregion/weakened-de-blasio-may-be-vulnerable-to-3rd-party-bid-by-a-democrat.html?partner=rss&amp;emc=rss&amp;utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">New York Times</a> that a successful candidate could run on a third-party line in the general even if they lost the Democratic primary; or a candidate could possibly skip the Democratic primary altogether and run on an independent line.</p> <p dir="ltr">As CUNY&rsquo;s Romalewski notes, in the 2009 general, Bloomberg did well in areas where he consistently won votes in the prior two elections -- much of Queens, the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Downtown Manhattan, South Brooklyn, and almost all of Staten Island. His Democratic opponent at the time, Bill Thompson, made it a close race, losing by less than five points. Thompson, who is black, won large blocks in Southeast Queens, Central Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx. Unfortunately for him, though, turnout wasn&rsquo;t as high in these areas as he needed for a victory. De Blasio upended the pattern in 2013, pulling votes from constituencies that voted for both Bloomberg and Thompson in &lsquo;09.</p> <p dir="ltr">Romalewski&rsquo;s analysis of the 2013 election also notes areas de Blasio lost to Lhota, including the traditionally Republican-leaning Upper East Side, Middle Village and other areas in northeast Queens, a few orthodox Jewish communities in Southern Brooklyn, and most of Staten Island. In general, these areas were dominated by white New Yorkers who have been increasingly critical of de Blasio. The mayor overwhelmingly won communities dominated by African-Americans and Hispanics, who continue to support him. The Quinnipiac poll noted as much, finding that in hypothetical match-ups whites largely favored Comptroller Scott Stringer and former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn over de Blasio, who maintained huge margins among African-Americans and Hispanics. (The poll did not include possible Republican candidates.)</p> <p dir="ltr">In terms of approval rating, 63 percent of black voters and 50 percent of Hispanic voters approve of de Blasio&rsquo;s handling of the job, while only 25 percent of white voters felt the same. The Democrat-Republican divide is even greater, with 55 percent of Democrats giving de Blasio a thumbs up and only 9 percent of Republicans doing so. Among independents, 30 percent approved of the mayor.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tusk&rsquo;s &ldquo;NYC Deserves Better&rdquo; <a href="http://www.nycdeservesbetter.com/blog/2016/8/12/new-podcast-bradley-tusk-with-jefrey-pollock" target="_blank">podcast</a>, Democratic consultant and pollster Jefrey Pollock pointed out that despite the mayor&rsquo;s weakening numbers, he has enough support among African-Americans and Hispanics for a strong showing in the Democratic primary. Pollock noted, and Tusk reiterated, that popular adage that almost every political expert and consultant says of the mayoral race -- &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t beat somebody with nobody.&rdquo; Pollock said independent groups support an opponent of de Blasio, if an effective one were to emerge.</p> <p>&ldquo;That is the great challenge,&rdquo; Tusk said.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/28132525604_33be991e32_z.jpg" alt="de blasio balcony" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed, Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Mayor Bill de Blasio often says he doesn&rsquo;t put much stock in public opinion polls; he believes they&rsquo;re about as accurate as weather predictions. When asked, he didn&rsquo;t express much concern after a <a href="https://www.qu.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/new-york-city/release-detail?ReleaseID=2369" target="_blank">Quinnipiac University poll</a> released August 1 showed that 51 percent of New York City voters don&rsquo;t think he deserves to be re-elected in 2017. But even if de Blasio didn&rsquo;t care, his critics and potential opponents surely did, and are likely buoyed in their belief that there is a way to beat an incumbent Democrat who has been arguably the most progressive mayor in the city&rsquo;s history and overseen dropping crime, growing jobs, and a record tourism.</p> <p dir="ltr">As polls show de Blasio&rsquo;s relative weakness, some voices have grown louder calling for his ouster, and potential opponents weigh jumping into the race, one key question is the best path to defeating him. In an overwhelmingly Democratic city that saw 20 years of Republican dominance of the mayoralty before his election, it&rsquo;s not immediately clear where de Blasio is most vulnerable.</p> <p dir="ltr">As can be expected, political consultants are divided on the prospect of de Blasio&rsquo;s re-election. Republican consultants believe he can be beaten if an opponent uses the right strategy, aptly highlighting the mayor&rsquo;s weaknesses, while many Democrats are certain the chances of that are negligible at best.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;[De Blasio&rsquo;s opponents] need to make it a referendum on his competence and his management,&rdquo; said Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist. &ldquo;That includes Democrats, especially in the primaries.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;An incompetent mayor can lose,&rdquo; he added.</p> <p dir="ltr">It is the competence argument that is already being made by the loudest voice to thus far openly declare intention to defeat de Blasio in 2017 - that of consultant Bradley Tusk, who ran former Mayor Michael Bloomberg&rsquo;s third successful mayoral campaign, in 2009. Tusk has said, though, that he believes the most likely path to defeating de Blasio in 2017 is through the Democratic primary. He&rsquo;s currently waging a public relations campaign to damage the mayor while he attempts to recruit the strongest candidate possible.</p> <p dir="ltr">As Tusk and others, even Republicans, acknowledge, the voter registration numbers don&rsquo;t lie. They also see that while de Blasio&rsquo;s approval rating is low, he still has fairly strong support among Democrats, especially African-Americans.</p> <p dir="ltr">In order to beat de Blasio, &ldquo;Republicans and independents will have to appeal to disaffected Democrats and have to bring in pretty much every constituency,&rdquo; said Siegfried. &ldquo;Bill de Blasio is absolutely beatable only if you run a good and strong campaign with a solid candidate...They should aim to peel off the pork from where de Blasio is strong, particularly the African-American community.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">On the Republican end, there are already a few candidates who&rsquo;ve indicated they may run against the mayor, including Queens City Council Member Eric Ulrich; billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, who lost in the 2013 Republican primary; real estate developer Paul Massey; and former professional football player and Harlem pastor Michel Faulkner. The latter two have officially declared their runs.</p> <p dir="ltr">Republican campaign consultant Jessica Proud of The November Team, who is working for Massey&rsquo;s campaign, believes there is a path to victory against the incumbent mayor. &ldquo;Clearly de Blasio has not been able to inspire the confidence of voters,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He has not shown himself to be a good manager of the city.&rdquo; Proud said Massey&rsquo;s appeal is that he&rsquo;s not a politician. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not an ideologue, his approach would be one of good management,&rdquo; she said, with an implicit nod toward a Bloomberg-esque technocrat and citing Massey&rsquo;s top priorities in the campaign: public safety and quality of life issues, housing, and improving city schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">The management issue is a common refrain and relates directly to competence. Even though crime is down, Republican consultants point to polls that show the perception of crime remains skewed. Many people believe other quality of life issues, like street cleanliness, are getting worse even if there is evidence to the contrary. The Quinnipiac poll released August 1 showed that 49 percent of New York City voters disapproved of how the mayor is handling crime, compared to 42 percent who approved.</p> <p dir="ltr">George Arzt, a Democratic consultant, said, &ldquo;[De Blasio is] vulnerable to a challenge but not from a Republican.&rdquo; He said that contenders like Massey or Catsimatidis don&rsquo;t have the same level of resources as Bloomberg did, and that they definitely don&rsquo;t have the political skills or organization. &ldquo;There were circumstances that cannot be duplicated as we see now,&rdquo; he said of Bloomberg&rsquo;s election as a Republican candidate. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s doubtful that anyone even with money can make a go of it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Another Democratic strategist, Hank Sheinkopf, said a Republican candidate could only be elected if the city were to undergo a serious crisis, say a crime wave, massive corruption, or another recession. De Blasio's administration and campaign allies are being investigated on multiple fronts by state and federal law enforcement officials - the results of those investigations could shift political dynamics drastically, of course. Short of major indictments, Sheinkopf did point out early indicators of problems -- certain crimes have increased, like rape, but overall the crime rate is at historic lows; school test scores may be improving but the schools are underperforming in general; violence in the city&rsquo;s jails; and future budget deficits despite the city being flush with cash.</p> <p dir="ltr">Even with those considerations, Sheinkopf said, &ldquo;A fusion candidate will have a better chance,&rdquo; &nbsp;referring to a candidate who runs on multiple party lines. &ldquo;They have the Republican line and other lines which makes it easier for people to vote for them.&rdquo; An effective Republican challenger would have to draw crossover votes from traditionally Democratic voting sections of the population, as Siegfried also suggested and any Republican candidate or consultant must understand.</p> <p dir="ltr">Democrats&rsquo; immense voter registration advantage is simply a reality that all involved in New York City political campaigns must recognize. However, one caveat to the voter registration numbers are the voter turnout numbers, which are often quite low. If a certain candidate, incumbent or otherwise, can motivate more people to vote in a significant mass, an election can be swung.</p> <p dir="ltr">As of April 1, there are more than 4 million <a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr16.pdf" target="_blank">active registered voters</a> in the city, of which 2.75 million are Democrats and only 414,478 are Republicans. However, that advantage isn&rsquo;t necessarily borne out by history, a fact pointed to by Steven Romalewski, director of the mapping service at the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center. In an interview with Gotham Gazette, Romalewski said, &ldquo;The enrollment advantage doesn&rsquo;t necessarily tell you much. It matters less than personality of the candidates and the issues. If everyone turned out to vote who is registered to vote and voted the party line, a Democrat would win. But that doesn&rsquo;t always happen.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Romalewski noted that a 2013 general election analysis showed that in certain districts, de Blasio received fewer Democratic votes than the total votes cast by registered Democrats, indicating that some may have voted for his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota. In other districts, de Blasio received more votes than the total Democratic votes cast, meaning he had support from outside the Democratic party as well. There were six major qualified parties and 14 minor parties on the general election ballot, with de Blasio holding the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.</p> <p dir="ltr">The city also has nearly 800,000 unaffiliated voters, often called &ldquo;independents,&rdquo; which adds another facet to the Democrat-Republican enrollment imbalance.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In 2017, I think the same kind of analysis holds,&rdquo; Romalewski said in an email. &ldquo;If none or just a small number of Democrats vote for de Blasio's opponent, he'll do ok. &nbsp;But if his challenger can persuade enough Dems to "defect," he'll be in trouble.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">But de Blasio&rsquo;s great strength, as Romalewski pointed out, is that he &ldquo;not only did well and much better than the prior three Democratic candidates [for mayor] but also did well in areas where Bloomberg did well. He kinda combined the traditional Democratic base -- Black and Hispanic areas -- with liberal white areas.&rdquo; De Blasio won a dominant 73 percent of the general election vote against Lhota in 2013.</p> <p dir="ltr">Critics point to the fact that only 26 percent of registered voters cast ballots in that election, which indicates some combination of apathy, recognition that de Blasio had a huge polling advantage heading toward Election Day, and limited enthusiasm for Lhota from Republicans and independents.</p> <p dir="ltr">A Republican would have to have a &ldquo;cache&rdquo; of progressive politics combined with the skills of a good manager, Romalewski said, to cut into de Blasio&rsquo;s voter base. &ldquo;The conventional wisdom is that it&rsquo;s unlikely [de Blasio will] have effective challengers,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Most observers assume that the mayor will only face a stiff challenge in the Democratic primary, due to the aforementioned factors and no obvious other big name Republican or independent waiting in the wings. And a tough Democratic primary is only possible, some say, if a single strong candidate runs against de Blasio instead of multiple candidates who could split the anti-de Blasio vote. &ldquo;If two or three Democrats challenge the mayor, he&rsquo;s going to win,&rdquo; said Bill Cunningham, managing director at DKC and former communications director for Bloomberg. &ldquo;If only one runs, there&rsquo;s a chance to coalesce the people who view [de Blasio] unfavorably and give them a place to go vote.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">One other path some experts float would be for a strong African-American candidate to enter the race - someone like Congressional Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, for example - who would chip away at de Blasio&rsquo;s deep African-American base, and one strong white candidate - someone like Comptroller Scott Stringer - who could pick up as many other disaffected Democrats as possible.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cunningham said for a competitive race, &ldquo;You need a message, a messenger and you need to be able to deliver that to the public. There&rsquo;s no mystery to what the recipe is. The trick is finding a candidate who is intelligent and can campaign effectively and has the money to deliver the message to the voters.&rdquo; Bloomberg had those qualities, he pointed out, but the current crop of contenders don&rsquo;t. Along with Stringer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is currently seen as the other most likely Democratic challenger to the mayor.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked about potential opponents, de Blasio has repeatedly said he&rsquo;s ready to take on all comers, at times mentioning the pillars of his term: universal pre-kindergarten, affordable housing, and low crime. At one point last year de Blasio discussed his "record of achievement" and said of potential 2017 opponents, "come one, come all."</p> <p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for de Blasio&rsquo;s campaign, Dan Levitan, emailed a statement about the prospects for 2017, saying, &ldquo;Crime just hit another all-time low, jobs are at record highs, the City is building and preserving affordable housing at a record pace, while graduation rates and test scores continue to improve. That is Mayor de Blasio's record and that is what next year's election will be about.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Even Tusk, who is arguably de Blasio&rsquo;s most vocal opponent right now, acknowledges that he&rsquo;ll be hard pressed to find a candidate who fits the bill of a Democrat with appeal among Republican voters. He recently indicated to the <a href="http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/nyregion/weakened-de-blasio-may-be-vulnerable-to-3rd-party-bid-by-a-democrat.html?partner=rss&amp;emc=rss&amp;utm_source=dlvr.it&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">New York Times</a> that a successful candidate could run on a third-party line in the general even if they lost the Democratic primary; or a candidate could possibly skip the Democratic primary altogether and run on an independent line.</p> <p dir="ltr">As CUNY&rsquo;s Romalewski notes, in the 2009 general, Bloomberg did well in areas where he consistently won votes in the prior two elections -- much of Queens, the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Downtown Manhattan, South Brooklyn, and almost all of Staten Island. His Democratic opponent at the time, Bill Thompson, made it a close race, losing by less than five points. Thompson, who is black, won large blocks in Southeast Queens, Central Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx. Unfortunately for him, though, turnout wasn&rsquo;t as high in these areas as he needed for a victory. De Blasio upended the pattern in 2013, pulling votes from constituencies that voted for both Bloomberg and Thompson in &lsquo;09.</p> <p dir="ltr">Romalewski&rsquo;s analysis of the 2013 election also notes areas de Blasio lost to Lhota, including the traditionally Republican-leaning Upper East Side, Middle Village and other areas in northeast Queens, a few orthodox Jewish communities in Southern Brooklyn, and most of Staten Island. In general, these areas were dominated by white New Yorkers who have been increasingly critical of de Blasio. The mayor overwhelmingly won communities dominated by African-Americans and Hispanics, who continue to support him. The Quinnipiac poll noted as much, finding that in hypothetical match-ups whites largely favored Comptroller Scott Stringer and former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn over de Blasio, who maintained huge margins among African-Americans and Hispanics. (The poll did not include possible Republican candidates.)</p> <p dir="ltr">In terms of approval rating, 63 percent of black voters and 50 percent of Hispanic voters approve of de Blasio&rsquo;s handling of the job, while only 25 percent of white voters felt the same. The Democrat-Republican divide is even greater, with 55 percent of Democrats giving de Blasio a thumbs up and only 9 percent of Republicans doing so. Among independents, 30 percent approved of the mayor.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Tusk&rsquo;s &ldquo;NYC Deserves Better&rdquo; <a href="http://www.nycdeservesbetter.com/blog/2016/8/12/new-podcast-bradley-tusk-with-jefrey-pollock" target="_blank">podcast</a>, Democratic consultant and pollster Jefrey Pollock pointed out that despite the mayor&rsquo;s weakening numbers, he has enough support among African-Americans and Hispanics for a strong showing in the Democratic primary. Pollock noted, and Tusk reiterated, that popular adage that almost every political expert and consultant says of the mayoral race -- &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t beat somebody with nobody.&rdquo; Pollock said independent groups support an opponent of de Blasio, if an effective one were to emerge.</p> <p>&ldquo;That is the great challenge,&rdquo; Tusk said.</p> <p>

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

Read more by this writer.

</p>
New York Primaries are Closed, Repetitive and Costly 2016-07-14T04:00:00+00:00 2016-07-14T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6438:new-york-primaries-are-closed-repetitive-and-costly Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/22127912963_5f30becd97_z_2.jpg" alt="cuomo voting 2015 machine" width="600" height="390" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Gov. Cuomo votes in 2015 (photo via Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">In April, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won the Democratic and Republican New York presidential primaries, respectively. New York has a well-publicized and worsening voter turnout problem, and approximately one in four registered New York voters could have no say in the presidential primary outcomes even if they wanted to - other than by changing their party affiliation more than a year prior.</p> <p dir="ltr">New York is one of only <a href="http://www.fairvote.org/primaries#presidential_primary_or_caucus_type_by_state" target="_blank">nine states</a> in the country, as of 2016, in which both major parties run closed primaries, meaning that voting in the Democratic primary is only open to registered Democrats and voting in the Republican primary is only open to registered Republicans. Closed party primaries are closed to unaffiliated registered voters - often referred to as independents - and to voters registered with smaller parties like the Green Party.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr16.pdf" target="_blank">According to the New York State Board of Elections</a>, as of April 1 there are 11,726,842 registered voters in New York (this figure includes both active and inactive voters). Of those voters, 2,485,475 are unaffiliated with a party, and 717,182 are registered with parties outside the two major political parties (Conservative, Green, Libertarian, Working Families, Independence, etc. - people regularly register with the Independence Party incorrectly thinking they are registering as &ldquo;independent,&rdquo; or unaffiliated). There are almost as many unaffiliated registered voters in New York as there are registered Republicans (2.7 million). There are 5.8 million registered Democrats across the state.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite not being allowed to vote in party primary elections, unaffiliated voters, along with registered Democrats and Republicans and &ldquo;third party&rdquo; voters, foot the bill for the administration of those elections. In New York, <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/state/index.ssf/2016/02/ny_could_save_25m_in_2016_if_all_primary_elections_were_held_same_day.html" target="_blank">the cost of a primary election in 2016 is $25 million</a>, which amounts to the <a href="http://www.openprimaries.org/taxpayer_costs_of_closed_primaries" target="_blank">fourth most expensive primary election in the country</a>, and this cost to taxpayers is not limited to presidential primaries; New York Congressional primaries and local and state legislative primaries cost $25 million each. In 2016, New York is holding three different primary days (presidential in April, congressional in June, and state/local in September).</p> <p dir="ltr">New York&rsquo;s closed primary system and the costs associated with it - both monetary and democratic - have resulted in calls for change.</p> <p dir="ltr">New York State Assemblymember Michael Cusick, a Democrat who represents part of Staten Island, introduced legislation earlier this year that would consolidate all non-presidential primaries to a single election day (<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&amp;bn=A09108&amp;term=2015&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Actions=Y&amp;Votes=Y&amp;Memo=Y&amp;Text=Y" target="_blank">Assembly bill A09108</a>). Currently, U.S. Congressional primaries and state and local primaries are held on two separate days, costing the state $50 million, about half of which could be saved by consolidating. In February, the Democrat-controlled Assembly passed the bill, which would move all non-presidential primaries to the fourth Tuesday in June, the current date of congressional primaries. In the Republican-led state Senate, however, the bill was not taken up.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some state senators are hesitant to support legislation that would require them to prepare for an election while they are still working in the capital - the state legislative session runs from January to mid-June. Currently, senators and Assembly members have the summer of election years to prepare for their September primaries as needed (state legislators serve two-year terms).</p> <p dir="ltr">A bill almost identical to Assemblymember Cusick&rsquo;s was introduced to the state Senate by Republican Sen. Fred Ashkar, who represents the Binghamton area (<a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2015/S6604" target="_blank">Senate bill S6604</a>). But, Ashkar&rsquo;s bill would assign the third Tuesday in August as the singular election day for all non-presidential New York primary elections rather than the fourth Tuesday in June. The bill, introduced in January and passed by the Senate in March, would still save taxpayers money by consolidating election days but because it calls for an August election day, it would allow state legislators to avoid the conflict between working and campaigning. Yet, Ashkar&rsquo;s bill has no chance in the Assembly because Democrats see it as an effort to suppress the vote, given the late August date, when people are even less likely than usual to be paying attention to politics or in town to vote.</p> <p dir="ltr">While either consolidation of the congressional and state/local primaries would save taxpayers money, without opening up the primaries voters registered as unaffiliated would remain unable to vote until the November general elections.</p> <p dir="ltr">Assemblymember Fred Thiele of Long Island is unaffiliated with a political party. Thiele introduced legislation (<a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2015/a9661/amendment/original" target="_blank">Assembly bill A9661</a>) in March that would allow unaffiliated voters to vote in primary elections. Many voters were hoping that the bill would be passed in time for this year&rsquo;s presidential primary; however, election day came and went as the bill sat in committee.</p> <p dir="ltr">This year&rsquo;s presidential primaries were notably frustrating for many New York voters. While unaffiliated New York voters are ordinarily unable to vote in their state&rsquo;s closed party primaries, thousands of voters found themselves unable to vote despite having registered in one of the two major parties. With one day remaining before the April 19 primaries, voter advocacy group Election Justice USA <a href="http://electionjusticeusa.org/index.php/what-we-do/" target="_blank">filed a lawsuit</a> in New York federal court on behalf of thousands of voters.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Election Justice USA, the lawsuit represented both voters whose party affiliation had been inexplicably changed to unaffiliated and voters who had been left off of voter rolls.The group&rsquo;s goal was to secure an emergency declaratory judgement, which would open New York&rsquo;s Democratic primary to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/live/new-york-primary-2016/group/" target="_blank">voters registered as unaffiliated and Republican</a>. The judgement was deferred and the primary remained closed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Jerry Skurnik, partner at Prime New York, a consultancy, specializes in providing political candidates with demographic information on New York voters. He believes that open elections have benefits for less partisan candidates.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Most of the talk this year had to do with the presidential primary, and it was sort of an exception in that a lot of young people who were unaffiliated were vehemently for [Bernie] Sanders, but I think in general, [open primaries] would probably help more moderate candidates and less partisan Democrats,&rdquo; Skurnik said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">While less strict partisanship might be one potential benefit of opening primary elections, Skurnik also points out that there is a question of fairness that should be considered when discussing open primaries.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;[A closed primary] allows people who are supporters of the Democratic or Republican party to pick the candidates. It doesn&rsquo;t allow people who really aren&rsquo;t loyal or committed Democrats or Republicans to have a say in who&rsquo;s going to be the party nominee. There&rsquo;s an argument -- why should someone who votes for Democrats for office 25 percent of the time have any say in picking a Democratic candidate?&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">This question of fairness is not limited to the role of unaffiliated voters in the Democratic and Republican primaries. While much smaller than the Democratic and Republican parties, third parties have active registered voters, and opening presidential primaries to allow any voter to vote in any primary regardless of party affiliation could be detrimental to these minor parties.</p> <p dir="ltr">Minor parties, according are Skurnik, &ldquo;are really ideological parties.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They stand for something, so why should the conservative who&rsquo;s unaffiliated have a right to vote in the primary for the Green Party -- someone who&rsquo;s in favor of fracking. Because they&rsquo;re unaffiliated, should they be allowed to vote in the Green Party or vice versa? Should someone who&rsquo;s pro-choice, should they be allowed to help pick the Conservative Party candidate because they&rsquo;re unaffiliated?&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">While they tend to be actively engaged in politics, voters registered with minor parties don&rsquo;t make up a large portion of the electorate in New York. For example, there are 50,000 voters registered with the Working Families Party across New York according to Skurnik, and while unaffiliated New York voters are more numerous than &ldquo;third party&rdquo; voters, their political tendencies are more difficult to determine. However, there is one observable pattern shared among unaffiliated voters.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We may not know where [unaffiliated voters] lean politically, but we do know they vote less often than people who registered in a party,&rdquo; Skurnik said. &ldquo;A higher percentage of Democrats and a higher percentage of Republicans and even a higher percentage of minor party registrants vote in general elections than unaffiliated voters. So a larger proportion of unaffiliated voters are less active, more apathetic.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Across the country, 43 percent of all registered voters are registered as unaffiliated. According to Open Primaries, an advocacy group that advocates for the establishment of open primaries in all 50 states, there are approximately 26 million registered voters closed out of voting in major party primary elections across the country. Currently, there are <a href="http://www.fairvote.org/primaries#presidential_primary_or_caucus_type_by_state" target="_blank">14 states</a> in which both major parties run open presidential primaries.</p> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://www.openprimaries.org/taxpayer_costs_of_closed_primaries" target="_blank">total cost</a> of running elections in all closed primary states is $300 million. This figure only includes closed primaries run by the state -- caucuses, while also exclusionary to unaffiliated voters, do not cost taxpayers anything in the states in which they are held. This is because caucuses are paid for by the parties themselves. Some question why states pay for and implement closed primary elections at all given that they are controlled by the parties. (For the recent presidential primaries in New York, Democratic voters voted not just for a nominee, but also for delegates to the party convention; Republicans voted only for a nominee, their New York delegates to the RNC are chosen at a party meeting.)</p> <p dir="ltr">One alternative to the closed primary system is the system employed by California for its presidential primary elections, which is something of a hybrid. In California, parties can choose between running a closed primary or a modified closed primary in which the party can choose to allow &ldquo;no party preference&rdquo; (NPP) voters, otherwise known as independent or unaffiliated voters, to vote in their primaries. In this year&rsquo;s California presidential primary held on June 7, the Republican Party chose to run a closed primary, excluding NPP voters and allowing only registered Republicans to vote. The Democratic Party chose to run a modified closed primary, allowing both registered Democrats and NPP voters to vote in the Democratic primary.</p> <p dir="ltr">California not only runs a modified closed presidential primary, but it also joins Washington and Nebraska in running a &ldquo;top two&rdquo; open primary system for all non-presidential primary elections. In the &ldquo;top two&rdquo; system, all qualified candidates are listed on the ballot; all voters, irrespective of party affiliation, can vote for whichever candidate they prefer; and the top two vote-getters, irrespective of party affiliation, move on to the general election. This system often results in two candidates of the same party opposing each other in the general election.</p> <p dir="ltr">This system is also known as a nonpartisan primary, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - a Democrat turned Republican turned independent - once unsuccessfully advocated for its establishment in New York during his mayoral tenure. In New York City, Democrats hold an even more stark registration advantage than across the state: there are just over 3 million registered Democrats in New York City and just about 460,000 registered Republicans. Meanwhile, there are more than 785,700 registered New York City voters not affiliated with a party.</p> <p dir="ltr">While Bloomberg&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703636404575353460741823880" target="_blank">efforts failed in 2003</a>, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, recently supported the implementation of nonpartisan primaries in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/22/opinion/charles-schumer-adopt-the-open-primary.html?_r=2&amp;module=ArrowsNav&amp;contentCollection=Opinion&amp;action=keypress&amp;region=FixedLeft&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank">a 2014 New York Times op-ed</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Within the op-ed, Senator Schumer not only called for nonpartisan primaries in New York, but for nonpartisan primaries all across the United States.</p> <p>&ldquo;We need a national movement to adopt the &ldquo;top-two&rdquo; primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff,&rdquo; Schumer wrote. &ldquo;This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.&rdquo;</p> <p>***<br />by Libby Wetzler for Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/22127912963_5f30becd97_z_2.jpg" alt="cuomo voting 2015 machine" width="600" height="390" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Gov. Cuomo votes in 2015 (photo via Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">In April, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won the Democratic and Republican New York presidential primaries, respectively. New York has a well-publicized and worsening voter turnout problem, and approximately one in four registered New York voters could have no say in the presidential primary outcomes even if they wanted to - other than by changing their party affiliation more than a year prior.</p> <p dir="ltr">New York is one of only <a href="http://www.fairvote.org/primaries#presidential_primary_or_caucus_type_by_state" target="_blank">nine states</a> in the country, as of 2016, in which both major parties run closed primaries, meaning that voting in the Democratic primary is only open to registered Democrats and voting in the Republican primary is only open to registered Republicans. Closed party primaries are closed to unaffiliated registered voters - often referred to as independents - and to voters registered with smaller parties like the Green Party.</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/enrollment/county/county_apr16.pdf" target="_blank">According to the New York State Board of Elections</a>, as of April 1 there are 11,726,842 registered voters in New York (this figure includes both active and inactive voters). Of those voters, 2,485,475 are unaffiliated with a party, and 717,182 are registered with parties outside the two major political parties (Conservative, Green, Libertarian, Working Families, Independence, etc. - people regularly register with the Independence Party incorrectly thinking they are registering as &ldquo;independent,&rdquo; or unaffiliated). There are almost as many unaffiliated registered voters in New York as there are registered Republicans (2.7 million). There are 5.8 million registered Democrats across the state.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite not being allowed to vote in party primary elections, unaffiliated voters, along with registered Democrats and Republicans and &ldquo;third party&rdquo; voters, foot the bill for the administration of those elections. In New York, <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/state/index.ssf/2016/02/ny_could_save_25m_in_2016_if_all_primary_elections_were_held_same_day.html" target="_blank">the cost of a primary election in 2016 is $25 million</a>, which amounts to the <a href="http://www.openprimaries.org/taxpayer_costs_of_closed_primaries" target="_blank">fourth most expensive primary election in the country</a>, and this cost to taxpayers is not limited to presidential primaries; New York Congressional primaries and local and state legislative primaries cost $25 million each. In 2016, New York is holding three different primary days (presidential in April, congressional in June, and state/local in September).</p> <p dir="ltr">New York&rsquo;s closed primary system and the costs associated with it - both monetary and democratic - have resulted in calls for change.</p> <p dir="ltr">New York State Assemblymember Michael Cusick, a Democrat who represents part of Staten Island, introduced legislation earlier this year that would consolidate all non-presidential primaries to a single election day (<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&amp;bn=A09108&amp;term=2015&amp;Summary=Y&amp;Actions=Y&amp;Votes=Y&amp;Memo=Y&amp;Text=Y" target="_blank">Assembly bill A09108</a>). Currently, U.S. Congressional primaries and state and local primaries are held on two separate days, costing the state $50 million, about half of which could be saved by consolidating. In February, the Democrat-controlled Assembly passed the bill, which would move all non-presidential primaries to the fourth Tuesday in June, the current date of congressional primaries. In the Republican-led state Senate, however, the bill was not taken up.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some state senators are hesitant to support legislation that would require them to prepare for an election while they are still working in the capital - the state legislative session runs from January to mid-June. Currently, senators and Assembly members have the summer of election years to prepare for their September primaries as needed (state legislators serve two-year terms).</p> <p dir="ltr">A bill almost identical to Assemblymember Cusick&rsquo;s was introduced to the state Senate by Republican Sen. Fred Ashkar, who represents the Binghamton area (<a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2015/S6604" target="_blank">Senate bill S6604</a>). But, Ashkar&rsquo;s bill would assign the third Tuesday in August as the singular election day for all non-presidential New York primary elections rather than the fourth Tuesday in June. The bill, introduced in January and passed by the Senate in March, would still save taxpayers money by consolidating election days but because it calls for an August election day, it would allow state legislators to avoid the conflict between working and campaigning. Yet, Ashkar&rsquo;s bill has no chance in the Assembly because Democrats see it as an effort to suppress the vote, given the late August date, when people are even less likely than usual to be paying attention to politics or in town to vote.</p> <p dir="ltr">While either consolidation of the congressional and state/local primaries would save taxpayers money, without opening up the primaries voters registered as unaffiliated would remain unable to vote until the November general elections.</p> <p dir="ltr">Assemblymember Fred Thiele of Long Island is unaffiliated with a political party. Thiele introduced legislation (<a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2015/a9661/amendment/original" target="_blank">Assembly bill A9661</a>) in March that would allow unaffiliated voters to vote in primary elections. Many voters were hoping that the bill would be passed in time for this year&rsquo;s presidential primary; however, election day came and went as the bill sat in committee.</p> <p dir="ltr">This year&rsquo;s presidential primaries were notably frustrating for many New York voters. While unaffiliated New York voters are ordinarily unable to vote in their state&rsquo;s closed party primaries, thousands of voters found themselves unable to vote despite having registered in one of the two major parties. With one day remaining before the April 19 primaries, voter advocacy group Election Justice USA <a href="http://electionjusticeusa.org/index.php/what-we-do/" target="_blank">filed a lawsuit</a> in New York federal court on behalf of thousands of voters.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Election Justice USA, the lawsuit represented both voters whose party affiliation had been inexplicably changed to unaffiliated and voters who had been left off of voter rolls.The group&rsquo;s goal was to secure an emergency declaratory judgement, which would open New York&rsquo;s Democratic primary to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/live/new-york-primary-2016/group/" target="_blank">voters registered as unaffiliated and Republican</a>. The judgement was deferred and the primary remained closed.</p> <p dir="ltr">Jerry Skurnik, partner at Prime New York, a consultancy, specializes in providing political candidates with demographic information on New York voters. He believes that open elections have benefits for less partisan candidates.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Most of the talk this year had to do with the presidential primary, and it was sort of an exception in that a lot of young people who were unaffiliated were vehemently for [Bernie] Sanders, but I think in general, [open primaries] would probably help more moderate candidates and less partisan Democrats,&rdquo; Skurnik said in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette.</p> <p dir="ltr">While less strict partisanship might be one potential benefit of opening primary elections, Skurnik also points out that there is a question of fairness that should be considered when discussing open primaries.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;[A closed primary] allows people who are supporters of the Democratic or Republican party to pick the candidates. It doesn&rsquo;t allow people who really aren&rsquo;t loyal or committed Democrats or Republicans to have a say in who&rsquo;s going to be the party nominee. There&rsquo;s an argument -- why should someone who votes for Democrats for office 25 percent of the time have any say in picking a Democratic candidate?&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">This question of fairness is not limited to the role of unaffiliated voters in the Democratic and Republican primaries. While much smaller than the Democratic and Republican parties, third parties have active registered voters, and opening presidential primaries to allow any voter to vote in any primary regardless of party affiliation could be detrimental to these minor parties.</p> <p dir="ltr">Minor parties, according are Skurnik, &ldquo;are really ideological parties.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They stand for something, so why should the conservative who&rsquo;s unaffiliated have a right to vote in the primary for the Green Party -- someone who&rsquo;s in favor of fracking. Because they&rsquo;re unaffiliated, should they be allowed to vote in the Green Party or vice versa? Should someone who&rsquo;s pro-choice, should they be allowed to help pick the Conservative Party candidate because they&rsquo;re unaffiliated?&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">While they tend to be actively engaged in politics, voters registered with minor parties don&rsquo;t make up a large portion of the electorate in New York. For example, there are 50,000 voters registered with the Working Families Party across New York according to Skurnik, and while unaffiliated New York voters are more numerous than &ldquo;third party&rdquo; voters, their political tendencies are more difficult to determine. However, there is one observable pattern shared among unaffiliated voters.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We may not know where [unaffiliated voters] lean politically, but we do know they vote less often than people who registered in a party,&rdquo; Skurnik said. &ldquo;A higher percentage of Democrats and a higher percentage of Republicans and even a higher percentage of minor party registrants vote in general elections than unaffiliated voters. So a larger proportion of unaffiliated voters are less active, more apathetic.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Across the country, 43 percent of all registered voters are registered as unaffiliated. According to Open Primaries, an advocacy group that advocates for the establishment of open primaries in all 50 states, there are approximately 26 million registered voters closed out of voting in major party primary elections across the country. Currently, there are <a href="http://www.fairvote.org/primaries#presidential_primary_or_caucus_type_by_state" target="_blank">14 states</a> in which both major parties run open presidential primaries.</p> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://www.openprimaries.org/taxpayer_costs_of_closed_primaries" target="_blank">total cost</a> of running elections in all closed primary states is $300 million. This figure only includes closed primaries run by the state -- caucuses, while also exclusionary to unaffiliated voters, do not cost taxpayers anything in the states in which they are held. This is because caucuses are paid for by the parties themselves. Some question why states pay for and implement closed primary elections at all given that they are controlled by the parties. (For the recent presidential primaries in New York, Democratic voters voted not just for a nominee, but also for delegates to the party convention; Republicans voted only for a nominee, their New York delegates to the RNC are chosen at a party meeting.)</p> <p dir="ltr">One alternative to the closed primary system is the system employed by California for its presidential primary elections, which is something of a hybrid. In California, parties can choose between running a closed primary or a modified closed primary in which the party can choose to allow &ldquo;no party preference&rdquo; (NPP) voters, otherwise known as independent or unaffiliated voters, to vote in their primaries. In this year&rsquo;s California presidential primary held on June 7, the Republican Party chose to run a closed primary, excluding NPP voters and allowing only registered Republicans to vote. The Democratic Party chose to run a modified closed primary, allowing both registered Democrats and NPP voters to vote in the Democratic primary.</p> <p dir="ltr">California not only runs a modified closed presidential primary, but it also joins Washington and Nebraska in running a &ldquo;top two&rdquo; open primary system for all non-presidential primary elections. In the &ldquo;top two&rdquo; system, all qualified candidates are listed on the ballot; all voters, irrespective of party affiliation, can vote for whichever candidate they prefer; and the top two vote-getters, irrespective of party affiliation, move on to the general election. This system often results in two candidates of the same party opposing each other in the general election.</p> <p dir="ltr">This system is also known as a nonpartisan primary, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - a Democrat turned Republican turned independent - once unsuccessfully advocated for its establishment in New York during his mayoral tenure. In New York City, Democrats hold an even more stark registration advantage than across the state: there are just over 3 million registered Democrats in New York City and just about 460,000 registered Republicans. Meanwhile, there are more than 785,700 registered New York City voters not affiliated with a party.</p> <p dir="ltr">While Bloomberg&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703636404575353460741823880" target="_blank">efforts failed in 2003</a>, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, recently supported the implementation of nonpartisan primaries in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/22/opinion/charles-schumer-adopt-the-open-primary.html?_r=2&amp;module=ArrowsNav&amp;contentCollection=Opinion&amp;action=keypress&amp;region=FixedLeft&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank">a 2014 New York Times op-ed</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Within the op-ed, Senator Schumer not only called for nonpartisan primaries in New York, but for nonpartisan primaries all across the United States.</p> <p>&ldquo;We need a national movement to adopt the &ldquo;top-two&rdquo; primary (also known as an open primary), in which all voters, regardless of party registration, can vote and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, then enter a runoff,&rdquo; Schumer wrote. &ldquo;This would prevent a hard-right or hard-left candidate from gaining office with the support of just a sliver of the voters of the vastly diminished primary electorate; to finish in the top two, candidates from either party would have to reach out to the broad middle.&rdquo;</p> <p>***<br />by Libby Wetzler for Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> Addressing NYC's School Overcrowding Crisis 2016-03-07T19:27:28+00:00 2016-03-07T19:27:28+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6210:addressing-nycs-school-overcrowding-crisis Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/img2424.jpg" alt="img2424" height="401" width="600" /></p> <p>Protesting school overcrowding in Queens</p> <hr /> <p>All parents in New York City deserve the peace of mind that their children will be able to attend a school where they can thrive and grow. Unfortunately, following years of neglect from the Bloomberg administration, our city's school system is plagued by school overcrowding and excessive class sizes, where hundreds of thousands of our children simply don't have adequate space to learn.</p> <p>With education a top priority for the city, it's critical that our leaders take strong action to address the chronic underfunding of our city's school infrastructure. Key to addressing this issue is investing sufficient capital resources in the city budget, as well as improving the current school planning process, which is broken.</p> <p>Recently, we've had some good news. When the city Department of Education (DOE) released its school capital plan, it included a commitment from Mayor de Blasio to invest nearly $900 million in additional resources to build more school seats. In the same plan, the DOE raised its needs assessment to 83,000 additional seats, given enrollment projections and existing overcrowding. This is closer to the 100,000-seat figure that Class Size Matters estimated in its recent report, "<a href="http://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SPACE-CRUNCH-Report-Final-OL.pdf" target="_blank">Space Crunch</a>." Together, these two adjustments are a welcome acknowledgement of the crisis in school overcrowding, and we applaud them.</p> <p>But more should be done. The number of new seats in the capital plan is 49,000—only about 59 percent of the DOE's own admitted need—and New York City's population is growing faster than any other large city in the nation. The mayor is now urging the City Council to adopt rezoning plans to accelerate the construction of thousands of new affordable and market-rate housing units, which will increase pressure on our school system. At this critical moment, the city has a real opportunity to address housing and education together.</p> <p>Right now, more than half a million students are crammed into over-utilized schools, according to DOE data. In many cases, this means excessive class sizes of 30 or more, a loss of art, music, or science rooms, and a lack of dedicated spaces for students to receive counseling or mandated special education services – no less the wraparound services inherent in the community school model.</p> <p>According to the analysis in a recent report by Make the Road New York—"<a href="http://www.maketheroad.org/report.php?ID=4178" target="_blank">Where's My Seat?</a>"—immigrant communities have especially egregious overcrowding problems and even greater unmet needs in the DOE capital plan. In many of the schools in these neighborhoods, children are forced to eat their lunch as early as 10 a.m. or are bused to schools far away from their homes. Many do not have adequate opportunity for physical education because there is not enough space in their gyms.</p> <p>We need to build, lease, and expand more schools. At least the 83,000 seats that the DOE projects are necessary. In addition, the process of school planning and siting must be made more efficient. There are many communities, like Sunset Park, which have suffered from extreme overcrowding for a decade or more, even though funding to build more schools in the neighborhood has existed in the capital plan, because the School Construction Agency has not been able to site a single one.</p> <p>According to the DOE, only 15 percent of the school seats needed by 2019 have sites identified and are in the process of being designed. In seven districts, that percentage is zero. The city will fall even further behind in creating seats if the mayor's rezoning proposals are adopted, unless much more is done to build and site schools. A recent Environmental Impact Statement for the East New York rezoning proposal found it would exacerbate school overcrowding, and, along with other changes, drive high school overcrowding in the borough to 109 percent of capacity. Yet the DOE capital plan does not include a single Brooklyn high school to be built.</p> <p>That is why we are urging the City Council, along with the mayor, to create a commission or task force of experts and stakeholder groups, to propose reforms to the school planning process, so that schools must be built along with housing, instead of decades afterwards. Among the issues to be considered would be reforms to the zoning process, including whether the threshold to consider the need for a new school should be lowered – especially when the schools are already overcrowded; whether the formula used by City Planning to estimate the impact of new housing on schools needs to be updated; whether the city should require impact fees from developers and/or use eminent domain more frequently; and how the trends in lost seats, utilization rates, and enrollment could be made more transparent and more accurate through regular reporting by the DOE.</p> <p>As Mayor de Blasio repeated in his recent State of the City speech, the goal across our city must be to ensure that neighborhoods thrive. There cannot be successful neighborhoods unless there are schools with enough space for the children in every community across the city to learn and prosper. It's time to invest all the necessary resources and improve the school planning process to ensure the bright future that all of our children deserve.</p> <p>***<br />Leonie Haimson is the Executive Director of Class Size Matters. Javier H. Valdés is the Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/leoniehaimson" target="_blank">@leoniehaimson</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/javierhvaldes" target="_blank">@javierhvaldes</a>.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/img2424.jpg" alt="img2424" height="401" width="600" /></p> <p>Protesting school overcrowding in Queens</p> <hr /> <p>All parents in New York City deserve the peace of mind that their children will be able to attend a school where they can thrive and grow. Unfortunately, following years of neglect from the Bloomberg administration, our city's school system is plagued by school overcrowding and excessive class sizes, where hundreds of thousands of our children simply don't have adequate space to learn.</p> <p>With education a top priority for the city, it's critical that our leaders take strong action to address the chronic underfunding of our city's school infrastructure. Key to addressing this issue is investing sufficient capital resources in the city budget, as well as improving the current school planning process, which is broken.</p> <p>Recently, we've had some good news. When the city Department of Education (DOE) released its school capital plan, it included a commitment from Mayor de Blasio to invest nearly $900 million in additional resources to build more school seats. In the same plan, the DOE raised its needs assessment to 83,000 additional seats, given enrollment projections and existing overcrowding. This is closer to the 100,000-seat figure that Class Size Matters estimated in its recent report, "<a href="http://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SPACE-CRUNCH-Report-Final-OL.pdf" target="_blank">Space Crunch</a>." Together, these two adjustments are a welcome acknowledgement of the crisis in school overcrowding, and we applaud them.</p> <p>But more should be done. The number of new seats in the capital plan is 49,000—only about 59 percent of the DOE's own admitted need—and New York City's population is growing faster than any other large city in the nation. The mayor is now urging the City Council to adopt rezoning plans to accelerate the construction of thousands of new affordable and market-rate housing units, which will increase pressure on our school system. At this critical moment, the city has a real opportunity to address housing and education together.</p> <p>Right now, more than half a million students are crammed into over-utilized schools, according to DOE data. In many cases, this means excessive class sizes of 30 or more, a loss of art, music, or science rooms, and a lack of dedicated spaces for students to receive counseling or mandated special education services – no less the wraparound services inherent in the community school model.</p> <p>According to the analysis in a recent report by Make the Road New York—"<a href="http://www.maketheroad.org/report.php?ID=4178" target="_blank">Where's My Seat?</a>"—immigrant communities have especially egregious overcrowding problems and even greater unmet needs in the DOE capital plan. In many of the schools in these neighborhoods, children are forced to eat their lunch as early as 10 a.m. or are bused to schools far away from their homes. Many do not have adequate opportunity for physical education because there is not enough space in their gyms.</p> <p>We need to build, lease, and expand more schools. At least the 83,000 seats that the DOE projects are necessary. In addition, the process of school planning and siting must be made more efficient. There are many communities, like Sunset Park, which have suffered from extreme overcrowding for a decade or more, even though funding to build more schools in the neighborhood has existed in the capital plan, because the School Construction Agency has not been able to site a single one.</p> <p>According to the DOE, only 15 percent of the school seats needed by 2019 have sites identified and are in the process of being designed. In seven districts, that percentage is zero. The city will fall even further behind in creating seats if the mayor's rezoning proposals are adopted, unless much more is done to build and site schools. A recent Environmental Impact Statement for the East New York rezoning proposal found it would exacerbate school overcrowding, and, along with other changes, drive high school overcrowding in the borough to 109 percent of capacity. Yet the DOE capital plan does not include a single Brooklyn high school to be built.</p> <p>That is why we are urging the City Council, along with the mayor, to create a commission or task force of experts and stakeholder groups, to propose reforms to the school planning process, so that schools must be built along with housing, instead of decades afterwards. Among the issues to be considered would be reforms to the zoning process, including whether the threshold to consider the need for a new school should be lowered – especially when the schools are already overcrowded; whether the formula used by City Planning to estimate the impact of new housing on schools needs to be updated; whether the city should require impact fees from developers and/or use eminent domain more frequently; and how the trends in lost seats, utilization rates, and enrollment could be made more transparent and more accurate through regular reporting by the DOE.</p> <p>As Mayor de Blasio repeated in his recent State of the City speech, the goal across our city must be to ensure that neighborhoods thrive. There cannot be successful neighborhoods unless there are schools with enough space for the children in every community across the city to learn and prosper. It's time to invest all the necessary resources and improve the school planning process to ensure the bright future that all of our children deserve.</p> <p>***<br />Leonie Haimson is the Executive Director of Class Size Matters. Javier H. Valdés is the Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/leoniehaimson" target="_blank">@leoniehaimson</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/javierhvaldes" target="_blank">@javierhvaldes</a>.</p> Is Mayor De Blasio Putting Students First? 2016-02-04T17:04:12+00:00 2016-02-04T17:04:12+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6146:is-mayor-de-blasio-putting-students-first Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/21286254099_7a9ba6c03c_z.jpg" alt="de blasio education" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio (photo via The Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor de Blasio's annual State of the City address is a natural time to take a step back and review his performance running the largest school system in the United States. For StudentsFirstNY, our most basic litmus test for policymakers is a simple question – are they putting the interests of students first? After two full years with Mayor de Blasio, we can definitively say that the answer is "no."</p> <p>In analyzing Mayor de Blasio's stewardship of city schools, there are several themes that emerge. First, there is a distinct lack of urgency in delivering results for students. Second, his policies are not based on research. He has ignored evidence that programs like small schools and expanded choice work. Third, he has not shown results on failing schools. And finally, the mayor has ignored teacher quality.</p> <p>Throughout the course of his time in office, this mayor has not shown much fondness for the details of his job. He seems more comfortable pondering the course of progressive philosophy or knocking on doors in Iowa, for example, than he does in setting specific timelines and metrics for results. Take his much-hyped program to have every child read by third grade. The goal is noble, but he doesn't promise results that can be measured until 2026 – long after he is gone from office. What good does that do for kids who will be trying to learn to read this year, or next year, or for years after that?</p> <p>A strong education leader understands that setting realistic short-term targets is essential to tracking results and ensuring progress towards a greater goal. Without real, deliverable metrics, these programs are little more than press releases with empty promises that may never come to fruition.</p> <p>Another hallmark of Mayor de Blasio's time in office has been a fundamental rejection of data and research-based decision-making. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the school system was improving – but Mayor de Blasio has rejected the use of evidence as a personal rebuke of his predecessor. In its place is a menu of nice sounding initiatives that have never been shown to actually improve educational outcomes for kids.</p> <p>Time and time again, Mayor de Blasio has opted to make education decisions based on politics, even when it means rejecting policies that have a proven track record of success. Take small schools as an example. Countless studies have shown that small schools work, but the de Blasio administration has rejected them for political reasons.</p> <p>The same is true with charter schools. Even though New York City has the longest waiting list in the country, with tens of thousands of parents hoping to get spots for their kids in charter schools, the mayor has fought tooth-and-nail against them. Why? It's not about serving kids; the mayor's political allies in the teachers union want to stifle their competition.</p> <p>These politically-motivated decisions threaten to trap another generation of students in failing schools, with no hope of a turnaround. The "Renewal" model was supposed to be Mayor de Blasio's signature program, but so far it has accomplished little for kids in the city's lowest performing schools. Some Renewal schools hit their target goals before the program had even started – a sure sign of artificially low expectations. And despite the claims of progress, objective student achievement measures show that these schools continue to perform poorly.</p> <p>Finally, Mayor de Blasio has not lifted a finger to improve teacher quality. He missed a golden opportunity to improve teacher quality with fundamental reforms during the 2014 teacher contract negotiations. Instead of reform, de Blasio caved to the UFT on every key issue – everything from merit pay for great teachers to eliminating the unwanted teachers from the ATR pool. The mayor likes to call this "collaboration," but in reality, the UFT gets what it wants at the expense of kids. So students are stuck with ineffective teachers and the teachers that no principal wants are forced back into the classroom.</p> <p>At the end of the day, we need to know that students are learning and have access to the highest quality schools possible. Halfway through Mayor de Blasio's term, it's not enough to talk a good game. It's time to deliver results.</p> <p>***<br />Jenny Sedlis is the Executive Director of StudentsFirstNY. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/JennySedlis" target="_blank">@JennySedlis</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/StudentsFirstNY" target="_blank">@StudentsFirstNY</a>.</p> <p>

***
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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/21286254099_7a9ba6c03c_z.jpg" alt="de blasio education" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio (photo via The Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor de Blasio's annual State of the City address is a natural time to take a step back and review his performance running the largest school system in the United States. For StudentsFirstNY, our most basic litmus test for policymakers is a simple question – are they putting the interests of students first? After two full years with Mayor de Blasio, we can definitively say that the answer is "no."</p> <p>In analyzing Mayor de Blasio's stewardship of city schools, there are several themes that emerge. First, there is a distinct lack of urgency in delivering results for students. Second, his policies are not based on research. He has ignored evidence that programs like small schools and expanded choice work. Third, he has not shown results on failing schools. And finally, the mayor has ignored teacher quality.</p> <p>Throughout the course of his time in office, this mayor has not shown much fondness for the details of his job. He seems more comfortable pondering the course of progressive philosophy or knocking on doors in Iowa, for example, than he does in setting specific timelines and metrics for results. Take his much-hyped program to have every child read by third grade. The goal is noble, but he doesn't promise results that can be measured until 2026 – long after he is gone from office. What good does that do for kids who will be trying to learn to read this year, or next year, or for years after that?</p> <p>A strong education leader understands that setting realistic short-term targets is essential to tracking results and ensuring progress towards a greater goal. Without real, deliverable metrics, these programs are little more than press releases with empty promises that may never come to fruition.</p> <p>Another hallmark of Mayor de Blasio's time in office has been a fundamental rejection of data and research-based decision-making. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the school system was improving – but Mayor de Blasio has rejected the use of evidence as a personal rebuke of his predecessor. In its place is a menu of nice sounding initiatives that have never been shown to actually improve educational outcomes for kids.</p> <p>Time and time again, Mayor de Blasio has opted to make education decisions based on politics, even when it means rejecting policies that have a proven track record of success. Take small schools as an example. Countless studies have shown that small schools work, but the de Blasio administration has rejected them for political reasons.</p> <p>The same is true with charter schools. Even though New York City has the longest waiting list in the country, with tens of thousands of parents hoping to get spots for their kids in charter schools, the mayor has fought tooth-and-nail against them. Why? It's not about serving kids; the mayor's political allies in the teachers union want to stifle their competition.</p> <p>These politically-motivated decisions threaten to trap another generation of students in failing schools, with no hope of a turnaround. The "Renewal" model was supposed to be Mayor de Blasio's signature program, but so far it has accomplished little for kids in the city's lowest performing schools. Some Renewal schools hit their target goals before the program had even started – a sure sign of artificially low expectations. And despite the claims of progress, objective student achievement measures show that these schools continue to perform poorly.</p> <p>Finally, Mayor de Blasio has not lifted a finger to improve teacher quality. He missed a golden opportunity to improve teacher quality with fundamental reforms during the 2014 teacher contract negotiations. Instead of reform, de Blasio caved to the UFT on every key issue – everything from merit pay for great teachers to eliminating the unwanted teachers from the ATR pool. The mayor likes to call this "collaboration," but in reality, the UFT gets what it wants at the expense of kids. So students are stuck with ineffective teachers and the teachers that no principal wants are forced back into the classroom.</p> <p>At the end of the day, we need to know that students are learning and have access to the highest quality schools possible. Halfway through Mayor de Blasio's term, it's not enough to talk a good game. It's time to deliver results.</p> <p>***<br />Jenny Sedlis is the Executive Director of StudentsFirstNY. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/JennySedlis" target="_blank">@JennySedlis</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/StudentsFirstNY" target="_blank">@StudentsFirstNY</a>.</p> <p>

***
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Give New York Manufacturers the Space They Need 2016-01-26T03:51:27+00:00 2016-01-26T03:51:27+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6114:give-new-york-manufacturers-the-space-they-need Super User <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/19045984283_9e1b508ca8_z.jpg" alt="manufacturing background" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo: William Alatriste</p> <hr /> <p>In November, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito released a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/0" target="_blank">manufacturing policy</a>&nbsp;that makes a strong commitment to the city’s Industrial Business Zones (IBZs). This is the culmination of a growing consensus among certain sectors of the city, from the Progressive Caucus of the&nbsp;<a href="http://council.nyc.gov/downloads/pdf/NYEO.pdf" target="_blank">City Council</a> to the <a href="http://prattcenter.net/sites/default/files/hotel_development_in_nyc_report-pratt_center-march_2015.pdf" target="_blank">Hotel Trades Council</a> the editorial board of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150227/OPINION/150229861/no-housing-is-affordable-without-a-job" target="_blank">Crain’s NY Business</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The ten-point plan includes investments in city-owned manufacturing facilities such as the Navy Yard, the creation of a shared advanced manufacturing incubation space, and, controversially, strengthening the prohibition of residential uses within IBZs. Naturally, however, some developers and real estate investors are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/11/8581735/mayor-city-council-ban-housing-citys-21-industrial-business-zones" target="_blank">skeptical</a>, according to Politico New York:</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>"Several developers…were predictably troubled by the idea that they could not build apartments and condos in these zones … “There are areas of the city that manufacturing is never going to return to. With the housing crisis being what it is, it doesn’t make sense to preserve them for jobs that aren’t coming,” said one developer."</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Steve Cuozzo at the Post&nbsp;<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/11/8581735/mayor-city-council-ban-housing-citys-21-industrial-business-zones" target="_blank">goes farther</a>, calling it “delusional:”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>"What’s looney is the misallocated priority. While the city moves at a snail’s pace to rezone East Midtown, chief engine of the city’s tax base, and buries shopkeepers and small businesses under an avalanche of fines and regulations, it’s throwing the kitchen sink into massaging a sector that counts for peanuts in relation to a financial-, media- and service-driven economy."</em></p> <p dir="ltr">As outlined by Saskia Sassen in <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6943.html" target="_blank">The Global City</a>, New York’s economy today, like most global cities, is built on producer services like finance, law, and marketing, which make New York into a command-and-control center for the global economy. When Cuozzo tells us to focus on rezoning East Midtown and the “financial- media- and service-driven economy” that operates there, he is arguing that New York should further specialize in producer services, on the assumption that they can sustain the city’s economy and finances indefinitely.</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s natural to ask, why not? Why make space for manufacturing, when other sectors are contributing so much to the region’s economy, and with affordable housing in such short supply?</p> <p dir="ltr">For one, cities need manufacturing. Urban production is a self-sustaining engine of prosperity. Not large-scale industrial monocultures like the Detroit auto industry in the “big three” era, but a large variety of small manufacturers buying and selling to one another, like New York’s economy was built on.</p> <p dir="ltr">As Jane Jacobs argues in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/86059/the-economy-of-cities-by-jane-jacobs/9780394705842/" target="_blank">The Economy of Cities</a> and <a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/86051/cities-and-the-wealth-of-nations-by-jane-jacobs/" target="_blank">Cities and the Wealth of Nations</a>, with support from <a href="http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~nowlan/papers/jacobs.pdf" target="_blank">many economists</a>, cities grow and thrive when small enterprises start producing things they previously imported from other cities, creating new markets for suppliers, maintenance, and distributors, while creating knowledge spillovers that lead to new innovation. The cycle continues as the new imports are replaced in turn. This cycle, she argues, is the very process of economic development.</p> <p dir="ltr">Jacobs even went so far as to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brooklynrail.org/2005/05/local/letter-to-mayor-bloomberg" target="_blank">criticize</a> Mayor Bloomberg’s rezoning of Greenpoint and Williamsburg in the last year of her long life, in part because it robbed the neighborhood of manufacturing land. Even Bloomberg recognized the importance of production, since his administration created the IBZs and, with <a href="http://prattcenter.net/research/brooklyn-navy-yard" target="_blank">great success</a>, redeveloped the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a productive manufacturing space.</p> <p dir="ltr">Producer services may result in high profits, but the majority of working-class jobs they create are precarious, low-wage service jobs. Without manufacturing jobs to fill the gap, workers can’t keep up with the rising rents and fares on the paltry wages they make mopping floors and mixing lattes. Fighting back against that inequality, whether through struggles for a $15 minimum wage, against racist police violence, and to preserve and expand affordable housing are crucial. So is building a stronger, more sustainable economic base for working-class New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr">To create that base, the city must reserve space for job-creating production to occur. Forget the market balancing supply and demand: in such a hot market, there is more demand for various land uses than the city will ever have the square footage to supply. Without public action, only the highest-margin uses will win out, so reserving space for manufacturing, just as it does for affordable housing, is exactly what the city should be doing. Affordable housing, public services, and manufacturing all contribute to the needs, prosperity and culture of the city, but if they are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151110/OPINION/151109863/industrial-businesses-should-find-city-s-zoning-plan-worth-the-wait" target="_blank">caught in a bidding war</a>&nbsp;with finance and high-end real estate, they will lose. The city isn’t just a space to consume, it’s a place to produce.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Matthew Rigney is a Master of City and Regional Planning Candidate at Rutgers University.</p> <p dir="ltr">

***
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</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/19045984283_9e1b508ca8_z.jpg" alt="manufacturing background" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">photo: William Alatriste</p> <hr /> <p>In November, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito released a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/0" target="_blank">manufacturing policy</a>&nbsp;that makes a strong commitment to the city’s Industrial Business Zones (IBZs). This is the culmination of a growing consensus among certain sectors of the city, from the Progressive Caucus of the&nbsp;<a href="http://council.nyc.gov/downloads/pdf/NYEO.pdf" target="_blank">City Council</a> to the <a href="http://prattcenter.net/sites/default/files/hotel_development_in_nyc_report-pratt_center-march_2015.pdf" target="_blank">Hotel Trades Council</a> the editorial board of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150227/OPINION/150229861/no-housing-is-affordable-without-a-job" target="_blank">Crain’s NY Business</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The ten-point plan includes investments in city-owned manufacturing facilities such as the Navy Yard, the creation of a shared advanced manufacturing incubation space, and, controversially, strengthening the prohibition of residential uses within IBZs. Naturally, however, some developers and real estate investors are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/11/8581735/mayor-city-council-ban-housing-citys-21-industrial-business-zones" target="_blank">skeptical</a>, according to Politico New York:</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>"Several developers…were predictably troubled by the idea that they could not build apartments and condos in these zones … “There are areas of the city that manufacturing is never going to return to. With the housing crisis being what it is, it doesn’t make sense to preserve them for jobs that aren’t coming,” said one developer."</em></p> <p dir="ltr">Steve Cuozzo at the Post&nbsp;<a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/11/8581735/mayor-city-council-ban-housing-citys-21-industrial-business-zones" target="_blank">goes farther</a>, calling it “delusional:”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>"What’s looney is the misallocated priority. While the city moves at a snail’s pace to rezone East Midtown, chief engine of the city’s tax base, and buries shopkeepers and small businesses under an avalanche of fines and regulations, it’s throwing the kitchen sink into massaging a sector that counts for peanuts in relation to a financial-, media- and service-driven economy."</em></p> <p dir="ltr">As outlined by Saskia Sassen in <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6943.html" target="_blank">The Global City</a>, New York’s economy today, like most global cities, is built on producer services like finance, law, and marketing, which make New York into a command-and-control center for the global economy. When Cuozzo tells us to focus on rezoning East Midtown and the “financial- media- and service-driven economy” that operates there, he is arguing that New York should further specialize in producer services, on the assumption that they can sustain the city’s economy and finances indefinitely.</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s natural to ask, why not? Why make space for manufacturing, when other sectors are contributing so much to the region’s economy, and with affordable housing in such short supply?</p> <p dir="ltr">For one, cities need manufacturing. Urban production is a self-sustaining engine of prosperity. Not large-scale industrial monocultures like the Detroit auto industry in the “big three” era, but a large variety of small manufacturers buying and selling to one another, like New York’s economy was built on.</p> <p dir="ltr">As Jane Jacobs argues in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/86059/the-economy-of-cities-by-jane-jacobs/9780394705842/" target="_blank">The Economy of Cities</a> and <a href="http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/86051/cities-and-the-wealth-of-nations-by-jane-jacobs/" target="_blank">Cities and the Wealth of Nations</a>, with support from <a href="http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~nowlan/papers/jacobs.pdf" target="_blank">many economists</a>, cities grow and thrive when small enterprises start producing things they previously imported from other cities, creating new markets for suppliers, maintenance, and distributors, while creating knowledge spillovers that lead to new innovation. The cycle continues as the new imports are replaced in turn. This cycle, she argues, is the very process of economic development.</p> <p dir="ltr">Jacobs even went so far as to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brooklynrail.org/2005/05/local/letter-to-mayor-bloomberg" target="_blank">criticize</a> Mayor Bloomberg’s rezoning of Greenpoint and Williamsburg in the last year of her long life, in part because it robbed the neighborhood of manufacturing land. Even Bloomberg recognized the importance of production, since his administration created the IBZs and, with <a href="http://prattcenter.net/research/brooklyn-navy-yard" target="_blank">great success</a>, redeveloped the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a productive manufacturing space.</p> <p dir="ltr">Producer services may result in high profits, but the majority of working-class jobs they create are precarious, low-wage service jobs. Without manufacturing jobs to fill the gap, workers can’t keep up with the rising rents and fares on the paltry wages they make mopping floors and mixing lattes. Fighting back against that inequality, whether through struggles for a $15 minimum wage, against racist police violence, and to preserve and expand affordable housing are crucial. So is building a stronger, more sustainable economic base for working-class New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr">To create that base, the city must reserve space for job-creating production to occur. Forget the market balancing supply and demand: in such a hot market, there is more demand for various land uses than the city will ever have the square footage to supply. Without public action, only the highest-margin uses will win out, so reserving space for manufacturing, just as it does for affordable housing, is exactly what the city should be doing. Affordable housing, public services, and manufacturing all contribute to the needs, prosperity and culture of the city, but if they are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151110/OPINION/151109863/industrial-businesses-should-find-city-s-zoning-plan-worth-the-wait" target="_blank">caught in a bidding war</a>&nbsp;with finance and high-end real estate, they will lose. The city isn’t just a space to consume, it’s a place to produce.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Matthew Rigney is a Master of City and Regional Planning Candidate at Rutgers University.</p> <p dir="ltr">

***
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</p>