Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Department of Education

Department of Education

  • course village elem

    Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks at a school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    In an interview late last year, New York City’s new schools chancellor, David Banks, vowed to “transform the lives of…[New York City] children, but particularly Black and brown children who have struggled the most in this system.” While all students have struggled during the pandemic,...

  • de blasio visits school

    Mayor de Blasio at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    When he first ran for Mayor, Bill de Blasio portrayed himself as a leader who would make a host  of progressive changes in our schools. He promised to be a far different leader than Michael Bloomberg, who had expanded high-stakes testing, proceeded to grade teachers and schools primarily via test scores, closed dozens of public schools displacing thousands of students, and helped charter schools expand in their place. 

    Bloomberg and his schools chancellors had done all

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  • schools students covid safety

    Students back at school (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    The pandemic has exacerbated the mental health risks faced by students in our public schools. Last spring, in an effort to monitor students' social-emotional health, the de Blasio administration awarded an $18 million contract to Aperture Education, a South Carolina-based “social enterprise” founded in 2017, to assess students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) at at all grade levels. As a public high school student, I am

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  • classroom covid

    Kids and teachers safe in school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we had a mayor who thought school safety was important. Bill de Blasio didn’t, or he wouldn’t have placed the ridiculous plan we’ve had since September into effect. Eric Adams doesn’t, or he wouldn’t have rubber-stamped the ‘doubling’ of the anemic de Blasio plan.

    Here’s the problem. You can say we’re testing 10%, 20%, or whatever percentage you choose for covid, but it’s not a real figure unless you’re talking about everyone. Right now, we are

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  • uft mulgrew de blasio600

    UFT President Michael Mulgrew (photo: @UFT)


    December 7, 2021 - Max Politics Podcast: Teachers Union President Michael Mulgrew on Pandemic Schooling, Class Sizes, & Mayor-Elect Adams

    New York City teachers union president Michael Mulgrew joined the show to discuss where things stand in city schools amid another pandemic school year, vaccine mandates and covid testing, learning loss and other classroom themes, the UFT's relationship with Mayor-elect Eric Adams, and more.

    Listen to the

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  • Gotham Gazette The Big, Bold Idea of Smaller Class Sizes

    Students (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    This week, the City Council heard debate about a bill that would require the New York City Department of Education to cap how many people it can squeeze into our classrooms. The purpose is to ensure better ventilation and reduce the possibility of viral spread — a health safeguard in the era of COVID-19.

    The end result would be fewer students in each classroom — a reduction in class size that New York City students, families, and educators have been

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  • chancellor rising off

    Mayor de Blasio and school kids (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Despite New York City Department of Education officials’ claims during this past week’s City Council hearing that the city’s school reopening plan for this fall represents “the gold standard,” the reality is that the plan is riddled with profound flaws.

    First, and perhaps

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  • cm greenfield townhall

    (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)


    Six years ago, I filed a complaint with the New York City Department of Education (DOE) alongside 51 others because there are dozens of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Yeshivas in our city that do not provide their students with an adequate secular education, as required by law.

    As a result of the complaint, the city announced an investigation on July 28, 2015. Yet now more than six years later, despite ...

  • 1 city holds oversight scho plans

    Council Speaker Johnson, right, and Council Member Treyger (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    UPDATE: On Saturday August 21, following the publication of this article on the evening of Thursday August 19, the City Council scheduled an oversight hearing by the education committee on the city's school reopening plans for Wednesday September 1. The hearing will come less than two weeks before the first official day of school for more than 900,000 public school students on Monday September 13. The article below has been

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  • equity for art

    School during covid (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    For years we’ve heard from the mayor and his schools chancellors that our Department of Education is all about “equity and excellence.” Lofty goals, lofty promises, and grand announcements of progress have followed, giving the impression that we are much further along than we really are. You may not share the DOE’s faith in utopia, but my school, Francis Lewis High School, is located right on Utopia Parkway in Queens. 

    This notwithstanding, I’m not persuaded. Next school

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  • mhc middle school

    Mayor de Blasio at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    I’m writing this on June 25—the last day of the 2020-2021 school year.

    And while we know next school year will start on September 13, there's so much we still don't know.

    There are some factors—vaccination rate, CDC guidelines—that are holding up some of the details, but the lack of a clear plan and clear communication from Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Department of Education now promises some amount of chaos two months from now. And for those of us

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  • moving toward a

    Kids back at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    On Tuesday, April 27, my kids returned to full-time in-person school for the first time since Friday the 13th of March, 2020. But approximately 600,000 kids in New York City are still learning from home. We must do better.

    One surprising outcome of this pandemic: My three elementary school daughters -- Sadie, Juno and Ruby -- were thrilled at the promise of more time in the classroom. Their first morning back had the first-day-of-school energy as they giggled at reuniting friends

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  • mayor cha sch

    Pandemic education (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Leading Democratic candidates for mayor have appeared at several recent forums to outline their priorities on education and the possibility of running the country’s largest school system, as well as their strategies for achieving those aims. Discussion at the various forums, hosted by a number of diverse groups, was often focused on how the mayoral hopefuls would shape equitable and inclusive educational policy for New York City students, especially amid the fallout of the coronavirus

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  • first lady cm

    The Mayor, First Lady, & Chancellor at a school (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    Last week, Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carranza announced that they will administer the controversial and problematic test for admissions to “gifted and talented” classes this spring, for perhaps a final year. Then: 

    “We will spend the next year engaging communities around what kind of programming they would like to see that is more inclusive, enriching, and truly supports the needs of academically advanced and diversely talented students at a more appropriate

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  • schools communites dec

    The men making schools decisions (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    School reopening has been a particular challenge for women in New York City. From lack of communication between the Department of Education, staff, and caregivers, constantly changing schedules, failure to invest in a care economy that values domestic labor and childcare, lack of tech support, and lack of funding to the daily demands of remote learning and the material conditions in schools, women have been hit hardest by the struggles our schools face. 

    As we think about how

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  • mayor school crowd

    Mayor de Blasio at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Mayor de Blasio's mishandling of the public school pandemic response has led to calls to reform or replace mayoral control of New York City schools.

    Almost six years ago, I wrote in these pages advocating the case for mayoral control based on the still-valid theory that quality education depends on maximum funding based on the Mayor's control of the city budget and the need for political

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  • bck 2 sch

    Students back in school amid a pandemic (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects for children across New York City and State, as well as their families, like the loss of a loved one, economic distress, food insecurity, and the shutdown of school buildings, switch to remote learning, and lack of in-person social connections.

    During the first five months of the pandemic, an estimated 4,200 of 4 million children in the state lost a parent or caregiver to coronavirus, a rate of more than one out of every 1,000, according to a

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  • 3 cm joins

    Council Member Mark Treyger, right (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    November 18, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: City Council Education Chair Mark Treyger on What's Next for City Schools

    Brooklyn City Council Member Mark Treyger, chair of the Council's education committee and a former teacher, joined the show to discuss the closure of city school buildings and what's next, including a proposal he has for how to restructure in-person learning.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter ...

  • 1 school ag

    Children at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    While parents of color have been less likely to send their children into New York City school buildings when they reopened amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, thousands of Black, Hispanic, and Asian students recently completed their first month of blended learning, which includes at least one day per week of in-person school.

    When nearly all public school buildings

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  • remote learning NYC schools

    Remote learning in action (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Confidence in the New York City Department of Education and other local leaders is low for Yalena Figueroa, a Hispanic mother of two public school students learning remotely this school year from Astoria, Queens.

    Figueroa wanted to send her fifth-grader and ninth-grader back to school, especially her teenager starting at a new high school. However, due to the concerns raised by teachers and news outlets, she said remote learning was a no-brainer for her. Both Figueroa

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  • village academy queens 600

    Mayor de Blasio & Chancellor Carranza visit a school (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    September 2, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Even After Delay, Will City Schools Be Ready to Reopen?

    Asamia Diaby, an organizer with the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), joined the show to discuss concerns about the city's school reopening plans, remote and blended learning, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax

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  • first day school

    School will be either blended or all-remote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office )


    The City prudently delayed the reopening of schools this week, meaning all students will learn from home until at least September 21. Meanwhile, nearly 400,000 public school families had already opted for their children to learn fully remotely indefinitely — continuing a dramatic shift in the way we educate our kids. All of our 1.1 million public school students will rely on remote learning this school year, either entirely or significantly.  

    But the learn-from-home

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  • 2 comm school

    Mayor de Blasio at a community schools celebration (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    As New York City prepares for a return to school, city leaders are once again turning to community-based organizations (CBOs) to play a central role in supporting the reopening of schools. This is understandable. CBO partnership has always been a pivotal cornerstone of success for our young people and families and it is again critical to the success of all of these reopening plans. But recent, deep financial cuts to the sector – and the potential for further cuts – makes this

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  • farina tour school

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The question of how to resume our children’s education safely has understandably preoccupied parents, educators, and elected officials. And because the difference between the various models being proposed (‘blended’ vs fully remote) may well be the difference between life and death for a fellow human being, we need to rely on the best available science. 

    Yet the question of ‘how’ to restart school for the city’s 1.1 million public school students is not the only one we need to be asking. Two others that

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  • 1 meal hub ps1

    Mayor de Blasio at a school food hub (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The uncertainty around how New York City public schools will be reopened come September extends to the emergency food initiative greatly expanded by city government during the devastating coronavirus outbreak that led to mass unemployment and food insecurity, as a large portion of the program was using public schools to distribute millions of free meals.

    A part of the massive program that has distributed over 100 million free meals since March will likely shift as students and

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