Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics



  • It’s Time for New York State to Finally Address Our Literacy Crisis and Ensure All Kids Can Read

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

    The literacy rate amongst children is at a crisis level: two-thirds of fourth-gradersnationwide are unable to read proficiently. This represents a complete failure to prepare our students for the most basic of life skills, in part due to the continued use of flawed literacy instruction methods. 


  • Now's the Time to Boost Social-Emotional Learning, Not Undercut It

    Students (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    It is budget season in New York City, a time when we all try to calculate the relative value of the things that are important to us. At a time when young people are struggling to cast off the psychic weight of the pandemic and great social unease, it is common to hear talk of the value of mental health, particularly for adolescents.

    If that talk is sincere (and as the Head of School at

    CUNY Funding a Key Issue in State and City Budget Negotiations


    Gov. Hochul speaks at LaGuardia Community College CUNY (photo: @CUNY)

    Funding for the City University of New York, CUNY, is among a number of major focus issues as elected officials negotiate a new state budget this month and a new city budget by July.

    Lawmakers, students, faculty, and others are concerned about proposals in both Governor Kathy Hochul’s and Mayor Eric Adams’ budget proposals, which are now the source of negotiations with their respective legislatures. Though Hochul included a modest increase in overall funding for CUNY in her January executive budget, she also proposed

  • Max Politics Podcast: UFT President Mike Mulgrew on Contract Negotiations, Charter Schools, & More

    UFT President Michael Mulgrew (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    February 28, 2023 - Max Politics Podcast: UFT President Mike Mulgrew on Contract Negotiations, Charter Schools, & More

    Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), joined the show to discuss his union's contract negotiations with the city, the governor's charter school expansion proposal, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen to the show through the

  • No More Baby Steps: Commissioner Rosa Must End the Yeshiva-Gate Scandal

    Mayor de Blasio in Williamsburg (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa’s demand for June completion of New York City yeshiva investigations is a step in the right direction. But her order will be hollow unless deficiencies are quickly addressed. Every day that ultra-Orthodox yeshivas fail to provide substantially equivalent secular instruction to their students is a day that those children are

  • Mayor Adams, If NYC Schools are ‘Segregated Intentionally,’ Why Increase Segregation with More Admissions Screening?

    Mayor Adams talks with students (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    On September 29, the Adams Administration announced changes to the high school and middle school admissions process for the 2023-24 school year. Most significantly, middle schools, which had been unscreened for the last two academic years, can resume academic screening of fifth-grade students in admissions if the district superintendent so chooses.  

    Admissions to New York City high schools are the nation’s most competitive. The most coveted schools

  • Fires, Storms, Covid, and Asylum-Seekers: Emergency Spending and the New York City Budget

    Mayor Adams at a City Hall press conference (photo: Violet Mendelsund/Mayor's Office)

    Earlier this year, Mayor Eric Adams pleaded with the federal government for $500 million in emergency funding to address the “humanitarian crisis” of thousands of migrant asylum seekers who have arrived in New York City in the last few months. But despite the clear health and safety risk to thousands of people, who have the right to shelter under New York law, the crisis is not the type of emergency – like the COVID-19 pandemic or

  • Reimagine Alumni Support So It Works for All Students

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

    I was a kid from Harlem, a first generation immigrant, and the first in my family to graduate from college – the U.S. education system was not built for kids like me to succeed.

    Thankfully, along the way, I got the support I needed to excel and live out the dreams that my parents had for me as well as the aspirations I had for myself. Sadly, that is not the reality for countless kids from underserved communities just like me. But it

  • Max Politics Podcast: How Principals are Navigating the New School Year, with Administrators Union President Mark Cannizzaro

    CSA President Mark Cannizzaro (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    September 13, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: How Principals are Navigating the New School Year, with Administrators Union President Mark Cannizzaro

    Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, joined the show to discuss how principals and other school leaders are navigating the new school year, budget cuts to many schools, and other challenges.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter ...

  • Max Politics Podcast: The Start of a New School Year in New York City

    Mayor Adams says hello to students (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    September 9, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: The Start of a New School Year in New York City

    Alex Zimmerman, reporter at Chalkbeat New York, joined the show to discuss the start of the new school year, the controversy around school budget cuts, and more education news.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode

  • Troubling Series of Uncertainties Mars Reopening of New York City Schools

    Mayor Adams visits a school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    After two-and-a-half years of a chaos and disruptions due to the covid pandemic and a change in mayoral administrations, many parents, teachers, and advocates were yearning for a steadier, supportive, and safe re-opening of a new school year, in which students would get the attention and the stability they need. Sadly, that  does not seem to be in store. 

    The pandemic is not over, no matter how much one may wish for it. The covid test

  • The Latest Education Budget Fiasco Shows We Must Scrap New York’s School Funding Formula

    Mayor Adams, Chancellor Banks, and students (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)

    The Trojan Horse called “Fair Student Funding” that allocates $10 billion of city funds to our 1,700 public schools needs to be scrapped. The attractively alliterative system inadequately funds the real needs of schools and, according to an unreleased 2021 Fair Student Funding Task Forcestudy

    I Started College at 16; Many Other Students Can Too

    DOE Chancellor Banks at Bard High School Early College (photo: @BHSEC)

    Although prom, soccer games, and spirit weeks are all memorable parts of my high school experience, my favorite time of the year takes place two weeks before the semester ends; course selection. Each semester, 300 students in the 11th and 12th grades refresh their mailboxes, eagerly awaiting the pamphlet filled with all the college courses that will be offered the following semester. 

    I attend Bard High School Early College Queens, so in addition to 17

  • Max Politics Podcast: Comptroller Lander on the City's Economy and Finances, School Budget Cuts, & More


    Comptroller Brad Lander (photo: Office of New York City Comptroller)

    July 20, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Comptroller Lander on City Finances, School Budget Cuts, NYC Ferry, & More

    New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, the city's chief financial officer, joined the show to discuss the city's economic and fiscal outlook, the school budget cut controversy and what to do about it, and much more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen to the show through

  • What’s Next for CUNY After Three Tumultuous Pandemic School Years


    CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodriguez (third from left) visits Guttman Community College (photo: CUNY)

    The City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban public university system in the country, is at something of a crossroads. Coming out of two especially challenging pandemic school years, the university just completed a mostly in-person year, with the usual sweep of celebratory in-person graduations, and graduates entering a strong economy.

    On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic is not gone, and neither are the

  • New York Should Increase STEM Education Funding for All Schools

    Students doing STEM

    As we close the books on another challenging school year, it’s worth recognizing a little-known state program that’s reaping big benefits for our school children.

    This year, New York funded $30 million to reimburse non-public schools for the salaries of qualified science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers for grades 3–12 as part of an innovative, first-of-its kind program first approved by the State Legislature in 2017.

    Although you might not have

  • With the Stroke of a Pen, Governor Hochul Can Bring Smaller Classes to New York City Schools

    Gov. Hochul's signature (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)

    The families in my district need – and deserve – smaller classes for their children. The Legislature has overwhelmingly approved a measure that will set new class size limits in New York City public schools. It is now up to Governor Hochul to ensure that the city brings these benefits to our kids.

    For years New York City’s children have had to deal with class sizes among the largest in the state, and my district in Queens is no

  • Max Politics Podcast: The State of CUNY, with Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez

    CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez (photo: CUNY)

    June 23, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez on the State of CUNY

    CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez joined the show to discuss the "state of CUNY," including his message to this year's graduates, how CUNY is working to better prepare graduates for jobs and careers, pandemic enrollment challenges, hiring additional full-time professors, and much more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter ...

  • How ‘Gifted and Talented’ Shows the Failures of One Man Rule of Our Schools


    Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Last week, community school districts across New York City submitted their plans for the schools chancellor’s new, unimaginative Gifted and Talented program. Last month, the Department of Education announced that superintendents would work with local Community Education Councils to determine the sites for third grade G&T programs in their districts. While Chancellor David Banks, with support from Mayor Eric Adams, who appointed him, has claimed to value “authentic parent,

  • We Need a Comprehensive Education Plan to Get Our Children Back on Track

    Helping students recover (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    “Have you been reading to your child and teaching them about letters daily? Ever since the pandemic, we have seen a delay in letter recognition and this is a very important skill for kindergarten children.”

    This is what was conveyed to each of us individually when we brought our children to tutors to assess whether they were on track to learn to read. As working mothers who engage with schools on a daily basis, it was very difficult for us to

  • State Budget Includes Big Boost for CUNY

    City University of New York (photo: CUNY)

    The $220 billion state budget passed by Governor Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature over the weekend included a significant increase in operational and capital funding for CUNY, the City University of New York that educates roughly 275,000 students across 25 schools.

    The new funding will help cover student tuition assistance, faculty hiring, child care programs, fringe benefits for staffers and more. But while significant, the increase of roughly $240 million in CUNY

  • Food for Thought: Healthy School Meals are a No-Brainer

    The Mayor & Chancellor at School (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    When Mayor Adams launched his campaign to improve school nutrition, he opened the door to solving a devastating and long-neglected issue that has left generations of New York City students without the fuel they need to get through the day.

    We’ve all seen photos of disappointing school lunches over the years — the same sloppy joe’s, wilted veggies, and lukewarm pizza that generations of New York City students have sadly grown up on for decades.

  • To Boost the City's Recovery, Get ‘Learning Leaders’ Back in School

    Parents back to school (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography)

    Two non-profit organizations I led later closed down, for very different reasons. One, the September 11th Fund, closed in 2004, having allocated all its funds and determining that many other organizations were in place to continue to provide funding and services to victims of 9/11. This was the right, though difficult thing to do, and it probably should happen more often. 

    But sometimes a

  • ‘Go Visit Charter Schools’: NYC Charter School Center CEO James Merriman on Growth, Challenges, and Raising the Cap

    A past rally for charter schools with James Merriman, right (photo: @nyccharters)

    “We have a lot more friends in private than we do in public,” James Merriman, the CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, told host Ben Max in a recent conversation on Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast. Half-joking about the political environment related to charter schools in New York, Merriman outlined the current duality for the controversial sector of privately-run public schools:

  • As City Pilots New Weapons Scanner in Bronx Hospital, Adams Eyes Expansion Into Schools

    Scanners at work (photo: Evolv Technology)

    New York City is currently running a pilot program at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx using an advanced weapon detection system created by Evolv Technology, a Massachusetts-based security technology firm, and Mayor Eric Adams has indicated that the technology could eventually be rolled out in schools across the city.

    In the wake of several incidents of gun violence in the city this year, Mayor Adams has...