District 7
West Harlem/Washington Heights/Inwood

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District 7 - Robert Jackson
751 West 183rd St., 10033
City Hall: (212) 788-7007
District: (212) 928-1322
Fax: (212) 234-0552

Committee Assignments:
Contracts, Chair
Education, member
Finance, member
Housing & Buildings, member
Sanitation & Solid Waste Management, member

Schools Must Be Funded, Not Just Governed

By Robert Jackson

The mayor has done what no other mayor in the last 25 years has been able to do: he has gained control over the city schools. I have been against giving the mayor control of the schools, but now that he has won, I congratulate him on it. I hope that he is successful. The mayor has said he wants to be held accountable and now he will be.

But governance is only a small part of the equation. The larger issue is how to fund a sound, basic education for New York City's children. A good education means providing enough schools, curriculum, up-to-date computers, science labs, and the hiring and retaining qualified teachers and principals. All of that takes money. You can not do it with governance alone.

A recent study by the Independent Budget Office found that the city would need $3.3 billion more a year (or $3,029 for each of the 1.1 million school children) to provide the same level of education as suburban schools.

Some are praising the recent news that the Albany will give $200 million to the city school system: $163 million from the state legislature and the promise of $37 million from State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. That is not enough. It does not even match inflation and the increase in the teachers' contracts. We have fought all this time for a measly $200 million from the state, when we need $3.3 billion to fix the school system. Is this news supposed to make us shout "hooray?"

I believe that education is the key to lifting families out of poverty, to better health, to reducing crime and to protecting our environment. I have served as an officer of the parents' association of my children's school for 20 years. I served as a member and president of Community School Board 6 and was founder of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

In 1992, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity sued the State of New York on behalf of our schools and our families arguing the current system of funding is unconstitutional. We won our case in the New York Supreme Court in January 2001. After nine years of litigation and $30 million in legal fees, Supreme Court Justice Leland DeGrasse ruled in our favor and found that the children of New York City have been denied their constitutional right to a sound, basic education. And because 84 percent of the school children in the city are children of color, he found that the system discriminated against them and violated Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Governor George Pataki appealed the decision, and we expect the Appellate Division to rule in the upcoming months.

If we believe children are our future, then we have to raise the revenue to educate them. If that means raising taxes, so be it. The people of New York City have said that they us as elected officials to put education first. They do not want to have to send their children to parochial schools or private schools. They do not want to have to move outside of the city.

The mayor and the United Federation of Teachers have also reached a contract agreement that is long overdue. Starting teachers at $39,000 at least puts them at par with the suburbs, but I believe our teachers' salaries should be higher than the suburbs. New York City has a huge system and schools with immense challenges. We need to give teachers an extra incentive to want to teach here.

Now the city must now turn to the police department and their contract. We are losing police officers at the same rate that we are losing teachers. Recently, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey hired 80 police officers and 72 of them came from New York Police Department. That should not happen. We have to turn to the police, and fire department and all of the other municipal employees that are working without contracts.

In my district, which includes neighborhoods like Washington Heights, Manhattanville, and Inwood, I am also working to improve public safety, housings, the environment, and to create jobs.

I have begun to work the local police precinct commanders and other police officials to address the concerns of the many different neighborhoods in the district so that all members of our community can feel safe when they walk down the street at night.

As a member of The Metropolitan Council on Housing and a tenant who lives in a rent stabilized apartment, I understand the importance of having adequate, affordable housing. I have organized tenants, led a rent strike, and lobbied other lawmakers to ensure that our housing rights are not watered down.

I share the concerns of residents over the sewage treatment plant and waste transfer station, which are both located along the Hudson River in West Harlem. I, too, have smelled the foul air from the treatment plant and will work to limit the diesel garbage trucks traveling to the transfer station, bringing more fumes, noise, and pollution to our area.

I also agree with the many residents of district 7 who want to protect our parkland in the area. I live across the street from Bennett Park and within walking distance of Fort Tryon and Riverside Park. As a member of the council's committee on parks and recreation, I will fight to keep these parks well funded.

And in times like these when the city has lost 125,000 jobs since September 11, we must do all we can to keep people in New York City and in good jobs.

That is the goal of my "Displaced Worker" bill, which would guarantee building service workers' jobs for at least 90 days when their buildings are sold or change cleaning companies. It would protect workers from losing their jobs without warning, create better job security, and improve security for building tenants in the nearly 300 buildings that change hands or cleaning contractors annually.

As the chair of the contracts committee, I have also been working to develop legislation that will reform the city's contracting process. We can streamline our practices and save the city millions of dollars, making the city friendlier to both large and small businesses and creating more jobs.

I am advocating forcefully for the needs of our district and the city. I welcome every one of my constituents to share their concerns and ideas for solutions with my staff and I. We need everyone's participation. In unity there is strength.

Posted June 17, 2002

Robert Jackson is City Council Member-Elect from District 7.

Community Boards for District 7
Community Board No. 9
565 W. 125th St., NY, NY 10027
(212) 864-6200/38
Mr. George Goodwill, Chair
Mr. Lawrence McClean, District Manager
Community Board No. 12
711 W. 168th St., Ground Fl., NY, NY 10032
(212) 568-8500
Mr. Walter G. Delgado, Chair
Mr. Gregoria Feliciano, District Manager

Community Plans for District 7 (PDF format)
197-a plan (Manhattan Community Board 9)

Waterfront Revitalization and Access Plan - Comprehensive Manhattan Waterfront Plan (Manhattan Borough President's Office)

Ethnic Makeup and Political Registration

Ethnic Makeup

Political Registration

Public Schools

Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

High Schools

To find out what school district you live in, call the Board of Education at 718-935-2000 or link to Public School Reports

Police Precincts

Although many precincts cover areas solely within one City Council district, there are many which overlap with other districts. In most cases the overlap of precincts among districts is no more than a few blocks. Wherever there is overlap, we have made sure to alert you.

City Parks
Click thumbnail for larger image of parks in this district

Learn more about the condition of the city parks in your district at the New Yorkers for Parks (PDF file).

Community Gardens

Click for larger image
Find out more about community gardens from
the Council on the Environment of New York City

Historic Districts and Landmarks
Learn more about the historic districts and landmarks in this area.

The Waterfront

A map listing suggestions for use and improvement of the waterfront in this district from the Metropolitan Waterfront
Alliance. (pdf format only)