Posts tagged "Bill de Blasio"
June 19, 2013
For education voters, the mayoral campaign season has been building in large part to today, when the United Federation of Teachers will announce which candidate it is supporting.
But the decision, which will come out around 5:45 p.m. today, hardly ends the education election. Instead, it simply opens a new phase, one in which education policy’s prominence is far from assured.
From the time that campaign season kicked off so many moons ago, all of the Democratic candidates have been careful not to alienate the UFT. While the union’s picks don’t always win — as Mayor Bloomberg pointed out on Monday, it hasn’t backed a winning mayoral candidate in over two decades — the UFT endorsement does confer money, cachet, and bodies to fuel a ground game that will be essential in the coming months.
Even candidates seen as unlikely to win the union’s support, such as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose help letting Bloomberg suspend term limits four years ago put her at a sharp disadvantage, were careful to infuse their education platforms with union-friendly positions. And all of the candidates who attended a forum the union held at its annual spring conference were effusive in their praise. (more…)
June 18, 2013
Even as Bill Thompson has continued to criticize the Bloomberg administration’s education policies, he has courted the mayor’s education allies.
Thompson has privately dined with charter school backers and assuaged their fears about what his mayoralty would mean for them. He’s taken thousands of dollars in campaign donations from a Success Academy board member and won the fundraising support of Merryl Tisch, a top state education official who helped expand the charter school sector.
Most recently, he has distanced himself from some Democratic rivals by refusing to oppose a key education policy that the Bloomberg administration has used to help non-union charter schools thrive.
Thompson has managed to stay in favor with these groups even while getting support from Randi Weingarten, an old friend, and emerging as a favorite to get the United Federation of Teachers endorsement, which is scheduled to come on Wednesday (The principals union, a close UFT ally, is endorsing him on Tuesday). His ability to cultivate support from advocates who are often at odds with one another on education is a testament to his political savvy and his experience as a schools policymaker in New York City, political observers say. (more…)
June 13, 2013
A common criticism during campaign season has been that standardized testing plays too large a role in city schools. Today, some who have made the claim most loudly backed up their rhetoric with policy proposals.
In a press conference on the steps of City Hall, the teachers union and New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a coalition that formed to oppose the Bloomberg administration’s school policies, outlined steps that the next mayor should take to end high-stakes testing and improve the Department of Education’s school accountability system. (more…)
June 11, 2013
Democrats for Education Reform, the national political organization with local roots, is urging calm for anxious supporters who fear that a new mayor could weaken their hold on favored education policies.
“Don’t believe all of the doomsday talk you’ve heard surrounding the NYC mayoral race,” a political briefing memo on the mayoral race begins. The memo, which GothamSchools obtained from DFER, was sent out internally last month to supporters and funders.
The briefing was written in response to concerns raised by people who’ve pestered DFER to explain what its plans are in the race, according to an email sent by Executive Director Joe Williams.
“Since we are getting a lot of questions on this, I wanted to update you on our latest thinking regarding the NYC Mayor’s race,” Williams writes.
The briefing paints a surprisingly rosy picture of the race from a perspective of education advocates who have supported Mayor Bloomberg’s policies and often clashed with the teachers union. It goes on to suggest that its allies take a long view of the mayoral race, excuse the Democratic field’s eagerness to please the United Federation of Teachers, and take a second look at some of the candidates who’ve previously been antagonistic.
“You probably wouldn’t want to be supporting a candidate who was too stupid to try to get enough endorsements to win,” the memo says, referring to some of the candidates’ embrace of the UFT. (more…)
June 3, 2013
For mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, sleeping on the city’s new teacher and principal evaluation plans was an illuminating experience.
Thompson was the first candidate to issue an official response to the educator evaluation plans that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on the city late Saturday. Speaking less than two hours after King released an overview of the plan, Thompson said the plan represented a victory for the teachers union’s approach to evaluating teachers.
“Let’s remember where this process started: The mayor wanted to be able to fire teachers at will, because he believes you can somehow fire your way to student success. That approach is now off the table for good,” he said. “Instead, teachers are going to get the support and professional development they need.”
But a day later, Thompson’s outlook was less sanguine. He issued a second press release on Sunday afternoon highlighting the many pitfalls that the plan faces in getting implemented. (more…)
May 13, 2013
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn fought hard to distance herself from the Bloomberg administration during a mayoral debate hosted by the teachers union on Saturday, but she could not escape being the only candidate to be booed by union members angry at the mayor’s education policies.
When UFT officials asked the mayoral candidates at the teachers union’s spring conference whether they believed the next chancellor needs to be an educator, Quinn’s answer stood out from the chorus of “yes” responses.
“Not necessarily,” she said.
It was not a new stance for Quinn, who has said for months that she believes a qualified non-educator could successfully lead the school system. But when she cited as someone who fit the bill U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, whose agenda overlaps with Bloomberg’s, she drew loud boos from the crowd.
It was a major misstep for Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, as she worked to hit the right notes during the United Federation of Teachers’ mayoral debate, which came a month before the union — one of the city’s most powerful political forces — plans to endorse a mayoral candidate for the first time since 2001. (more…)
May 8, 2013
Mayoral candidates had to dig deep into history to unearth an unpleasant memory about the United Federation of Teachers at a schools forum in the Bronx on Tuesday night.
Asked to recall a time when they disagreed with the UFT, Bill Thompson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn cited the union’s initial opposition to district centralization nearly 20 years ago.
Thompson at first praised the UFT’s role in the re-centralization, which shifted some hiring responsibilities to the chancellor and required changes to state law. Pressed to name a time that he disagreed with the UFT, Thompson said it was when the union obstructed the same shift.
“The resistance, before that, of the UFT to change the system that existed, to changing from decentralization, was a mistake,” he said. (more…)
May 3, 2013
City schools’ annual letter grades would become a thing of the past if any of the mayoral candidates who attended a parent-oriented forum in Brooklyn Thursday evening takes over City Hall next year.
Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, and Bill Thompson each vowed to stop issuing the grades, which the Bloomberg administration has issued since 2007. The city has used the grades — which are almost entirely based on student test scores for elementary and middle schools — to pick which schools to close and which principals to reward.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and all of the non-Democratic candidates in the race skipped the forum, which was organized by a parent group that formed to oppose high-stakes testing and co-sponsored by the teachers union-aligned Alliance for Quality Education.
The school grading issue was one on which the candidates had not clearly staked out positions before moderator — and outspoken critic of the Bloomberg administration — Diane Ravitch asked them about it. But their unanimity reflected the tenor of the evening, in which the four men clamored to demonstrate their alignment with the parents who organized the event and against Mayor Bloomberg’s school policies. (more…)
April 29, 2013
For thousands of sixth-graders at 20 city middle schools, the school day is about to get a lot longer.
The schools will offer an hour of intensive literacy tutoring and 90 additional minutes of community-inspired programming such as yoga and gardening, as part of the city’s latest effort to spur improvements in the lowest-performing middle schools.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced today that they are adding 40 schools to the city’s two-year-old Middle School Quality Initiative. Twenty of those schools will be randomly chosen for the three-year extended day pilot program.
Walcott made middle schools his priority when he took office, rebranding an initiative that Quinn had spearheaded as MSQI and expanding it to include focuses on literacy, teacher collaboration, and using data to drive instruction. Since then, MSQI has grown from 18 to 49 schools, and in the fall, it will include 89 schools. (more…)
April 22, 2013
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s campaign against charter school operator Eva Moskowitz continued today when the mayoral candidate called for an independent investigation into the way the city treats Moskowitz’s Success Academy schools.
Citing a column by Juan Gonzalez in Friday’s New York Daily News, de Blasio said Cobble Hill Success Academy had toxin-ridden light fixtures removed before other schools in its Brooklyn public school building. (The city is in the midst of a lumbering process to rid hundreds of school buildings of lights that contain PCBs.)
De Blasio brought students and parents to the steps of the Department of Education’s headquarters on Chambers Street today to call for an investigation into what he said was preferential treatment by the department of the charter network. He got an assist from the United Federation of Teachers, who wrote to city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott today to ask for the investigation. (more…)