Posts tagged "Bill de Blasio"
September 5, 2012
Visiting schools to shake hands with students and pose with parents on the first day of school is a time-honored stop on elected officials’ public schedules.
But few of them will be pounding the pavement on Thursday. That’s because their presence is required at a different kind of political event: the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
All of the leading contenders in next year’s mayoral race have made first-day-of-school stops in the recent past. Last year, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn appeared in Inwood with United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew to celebrate their budget victory that prevented thousands of teacher layoffs.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer handed out “Back 2 Basics Guides” at several schools, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was in Fort Greene calling on parents to get more involved in their children’s education. As comptroller in 2009, Bill Thompson used the first day of school to criticize the city for increasing class sizes.
This year, all four are part of the roughly 450-member New York State delegation that will help nominate President Barack Obama for a second term Thursday evening. On Tuesday, the delegates approved the party platform, presented by Newark mayor Cory Booker, which included a hefty slate of education policy positions. (more…)
August 21, 2012
Most of the 2013 mayoral contenders are still keeping an arm’s length from a union-backed campaign to tie StudentsFirstNY’s agenda to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. But that hasn’t stopped a slew of other political hopefuls from throwing their support behind the effort.
New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a coalition of public unions, community-based organizations and liberal advocacy groups, has released a list of 33 elected officials and candidates who have signed on to a pledge to refuse support from StudentsFirstNY, which is seeking to advance the education polices started by the Bloomberg administration. The list includes candidates for Manhattan and Brooklyn Borough President, Public Advocate and a slew of City Council members and state legislators.
Noticeably absent are frontrunners in the one race that New Yorkers for Great Public Schools and StudentsFirstNY hope to influence the most: the 2013 mayoral election. Only one prospective candidate, John Liu, has said he’d reject StudentsFirstNY’s support.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said last week she’d be fine accepting their support, as did long-shot Tom Allon. Former Comptroller Bill Thompson was non-committal in his response and one other candidates, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has stayed mum on the subject. (more…)
July 24, 2012
Michael Duffy remembers the moment he decided City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was his pick for mayor.
It was in the summer of 2011, at an informal lunch with community leaders that Duffy attended. Duffy, who formerly oversaw the city’s charter schools office, said Quinn gave her unqualified support for the controversial practice of giving charter schools free space in public schools.
“She went right to the issue and said that charters couldn’t grow in the way that they have been able to without co-location and that’s why she thought it was a good policy,” Duffy said last week.
Duffy, now the managing director at Victory Education Partners, went on to contribute $1,250 to Quinn’s campaign and has helped her raise thousands more from charter school leaders.
Most of those contributions came in 2011, however. Donors from the education world largely sat out of mayoral fundraising activities over the past six months, according to campaign filings released last week.
Duffy, who is planning to open a charter school in New York City in 2013, contributed $250 to Quinn this year. The small donation made him one of the only charter school leaders to give to any prospective mayoral campaign so far in 2012.
“Folks are all over the map in terms of their views of the mayoral candidates,” said Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, a political action committee that supports candidates who favor the expansion of charter schools. (more…)
May 23, 2012
A handful of parent leaders are exploring their political viability for the upcoming election cycles, hoping to tap into a growing dissatisfaction with the city’s handling of the school system.
Previously, the parents have held seats on their school’s parent-teacher association or served top posts on their district’s Community Education Councils. Some are seasoned organizers and have family histories steeped in New York City politics. Still others are looking beyond the five boroughs as a way to influence education policy.
Two have declared for State Assembly races this fall, but most at the city level have yet to open campaign chests or secure any key endorsements. Few have connections to the political organizations that frequently power candidates into office. But they are testing the waters and, in interviews, they share a common gripe when speaking about their pursuit of a higher office.
“We’ve been completely marginalized by the current administration,” said Noah Gotbaum, who said he is considering a run in the already crowded race for public advocate, a position his stepmother, Betsy Gotbaum, occupied from 2001 to 2009. (His father, Victor Gotbaum, headed DC-37, one of the city’s largest unions, for two decades until 1987.)
“The DOE flat out ignores parents across the board,” said Sam Pirozzolo, a parent council president from Staten Island who is actively campaigning for State Assembly this year.
It’s just one part of a larger, if uncoordinated, organizing effort by groups seeking greater influence over policy decisions once Mayor Bloomberg departs after 12 years in office. Last week, a coalition of unions and advocacy groups announced it would work to galvanize opposition to Bloomberg’s least popular policies, which include closing troubled schools and expanding the number of charter schools, in the mayoral race. (more…)
May 11, 2012
Critics of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to slash after-school services to tens of thousands of students are forecasting that the cuts will have a grave effect.
Today, they earned an accidental endorsement from an unusual source: Bloomberg.
“We have a lot of kids who unfortunately don’t have parents at home when they leave in the morning or get home in the afternoon and it’s harder to supervise kids,” Bloomberg said during a radio appearance this morning to promote the city’s anti-truancy campaign.
The comments were convenient fodder for Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, who released a report today that painted a doomsday scenario about how the cuts would contribute to crime and hurt citywide employment rates.
De Blasio called Bloomberg “disconnected” and said the issues he raised on the radio were precisely a reason to preserve the after-school programs. (more…)
April 17, 2012
After closing 140 schools since taking over the system in 2003, Mayor Bloomberg shouldn’t be allowed to shut down any more, according to Bill Thompson, who would like to succeed the mayor.
Thompson today announced that he has been lobbying legislators in Albany to impose a moratorium on school closures in New York City until after Bloomberg leaves office at the end of 2013.
Thompson, who narrowly lost to Bloomberg in 2009, said he had heard rumors from sources “inside and outside” the Department of Education, including legislators, that the Bloomberg administration is planning to close 75 schools next year.
“Why would we allow that to happen in the last year of a Bloomberg administration?” Thompson said. “We need to be protected against the DOE right now.”
Bloomberg dismissed Thompson’s comment this afternoon, saying, ”We can’t possibly know what we’re going to do next year.” But he added that his administration would “keep doing what we do right up until December 31, 2013″ when his term ends. (more…)
March 7, 2012
A bill that the City Council passed to make government more accountable will be a useful weapon for those who advocate releasing teachers’ ratings to the public.
That’s what Mayor Bloomberg said today as he signed the bill into law at City Hall. The law, sponsored by 21 council members and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, requires the city to make incrementally more data available each year until 2018, when all city data will have to be posted to a single online warehouse and made available to researchers and members of the public. (more…)
February 27, 2012
UFT President Michael Mulgrew started his week at P.S. 321, a high-performing elementary school in Park Slope whose principal has taken an unusually outspoken stance against the release of thousands of individual teachers’ city ratings.
Elizabeth Phillips, the school’s longtime principal, published a column on the New York City Public School Parents blog this weekend arguing that the Teacher Data Reports were based on inaccurate data and generated results that conflicted with her own assessments’ of teachers.
The reports are years-old “value-added” assessments of teacher effectiveness for about 18,000 city teachers who taught math and reading in grades 4-8 between 2007 and 2010. They were released Friday after a long legal fight, and many local news organizations chose to publish them. GothamSchools did not because of concerns about the data.
Dick Riley, a union spokesman, said P.S. 321 had been chosen for Mulgrew’s appearance because it was a successful school that was accessible for reporters. That Phillips had taken a strong stance against publication was “serendipitous,” he said.
Standing outside the school as teachers and families started to trickle in, Mulgrew said the reports’ release was potentially a watershed moment for city teachers.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to prevent the mayor doing any more damage to the city’s schools,” he told reporters. The comment echoed one he made to the New York Times, which reported today that the release could wind up being a political win for the union by galvanizing support at a time when Mayor Bloomberg and others have taken aim at the union and its members.
Today, Mulgrew told GothamSchools, “More and more teachers are becoming more motivated to really start pushing against this mayor.” (more…)
February 13, 2012
It would be a big mistake for New York City to let Gov. Andrew Cuomo settle its teacher evaluations dispute, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Sunday.
The press conference came four days before Cuomo’s deadline for school districts to agree on new evaluations. If they don’t settle on new evaluations by Feb. 16, he said, he would “do it for them” — presumably by using the budgeting process to change the state’s teacher evaluations law.
In recent weeks, Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott have signaled that they might prefer letting Cuomo take the lead, possibly because they hope he would side with them in a seemingly intractable local dispute. The city and teachers union have been stuck for more than a month on the issue of appeals for teachers who receive low ratings under a new system.
But de Blasio warned that passing the buck could backfire for the city.
“The minute it goes to Albany anything can happen,” he said. “There’s a much better chance of a plan that will work it’s agreed to up front.” (more…)
January 31, 2012
A press conference about the city’s school closure policy looked a lot like a campaign stop for four men eyeing 2013 mayoral runs.
Four leading mayoral candidates — Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, and former comptroller and 2009 mayoral runner-up Bill Thompson — spoke at the event on the steps of City Hall. The press conference was organized by the Coalition for Educational Justice, a nonprofit that has spearheaded protests against many of the 25 closures proposed this year.
Flanked by advocates and parents, the men echoed concerns outlined in a report CEJ released last week about the inclusion of students with special needs in new small schools. (That report responded to a report by an independent research firm that found the schools had increased students’ chances of graduating.) The candidates all said the Bloomberg administration had been too quick to close schools without trying other interventions and had “warehoused” high-needs students in schools that are now facing closure.
They also demanded that the city release details about what happened to students who had not yet graduated when their schools closed — information that is required by law to come out tomorrow.
But they stopped short of explaining how they would do things differently if they became mayor and gained control of the schools. The closest anyone got was Stringer, who took aim at an Achilles’ Heel for Bloomberg: the way the Department of Education engages parents and communities. (more…)