Posts tagged "election 2009"
November 2, 2009
On the night of his primary election victory, city comptroller candidate John Liu stood in the city’s teacher union headquarters and thanked the United Federation of Teachers for delivering his win. In the mayoral race, by contrast, the UFT chose to sit on the sidelines and not endorse the Democratic candidate, as it has historically done.
How much of a difference has the UFT’s decision to sit out the race made for comptroller Bill Thompson’s campaign? The answer likely rests on the continuum between not much and not at all, election observers said today.
Those who argue that a UFT endorsement would have helped Thompson, if only modestly, point to the UFT’s powerful voter turnout machine. In an election predicted to see few voters, the ability to mobilize teachers and parents could be a deciding factor in who wins tomorrow.
A spokesman for the union, Dick Riley, estimated that union volunteers had made about 200,000 calls and distributed 50,000 pieces of campaign literature this year on behalf of endorsed candidates in citywide, borough and city council elections. The union also sends out robocalls urging its members to vote for candidates and its president, Michael Mulgrew, made appearances with candidates at press conferences. (more…)
October 26, 2009
With little more than a week before the mayoral election, candidate Bill Thompson and Christopher Cerf, an adviser to Mayor Bloomberg’s reelection campaign, touted their future plans for the city’s schools on WNYC today.
Given half an hour each on the Brian Lehrer Show, Thompson and Cerf took questions on school safety, the accountability structure, and what major changes they (or their candidate — Cerf hasn’t said whether he’ll return to the Department of Education after the election) would put in place over the next four years. Throughout the interview, Thompson emphasized his interest in lowering class sizes and shifting school administrators’ focus away from standardized tests. Cerf spoke at length about the importance of using technology to cater to students’ different learning styles. Neither offered clues to how the city would pay for these changes.
Asked by host Brian Lehrer to name the greatest innovation he’d bring to the city’s schools, Thompson had one word: curriculum. (more…)
Nothing the candidates said during tonight’s mayoral debate was more surprising than the Rev. Billy Talen’s spirited heckling, but a few choice comments were made about the city’s schools and mayoral control.
Right out of the gate, Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched into a list of comparisons between the Department of Education during the last eight years and the Board of Education during the time that Comptroller Bill Thompson was president. He recited graduation statistics, said that schools are safer today than they were in the 1990s, and boasted about test scores increases.
September 28, 2009
In anticipation of tomorrow’s runoff election, which is likely to get a trickle of turnout, here’s a quick look at how the Democratic candidates for public advocate responded to GothamSchools’ education questionnaire.
Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn city councilman, and Mark Green, who was the public advocate during the Giuliani administration, have surprisingly little that they agree on, except that the city’s school system needs improvement.
De Blasio did not say where he stands on the growth of charter schools. Instead, he notes that the siting process needs to be improved and that teachers in charter schools should be able to unionize. Asked if the current statewide cap for charter schools needs to be changed, he writes only that the number should be evaluated.
Green, who is typically more blunt, states that he does not support curbing charter schools’ growth and that he believes the cap, which is currently set at 200, is “hindering” New York’s access to federal education dollars. (more…)
September 25, 2009
As the mayoral race heats up, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Comptroller Bill Thompson are butting heads over Thompson’s education record.
Thompson describes himself as a prescient reformer who, as president of the Board of Education, a position he held from 1996 to 2001, oversaw a higher test score increase than Bloomberg has as mayor.
In its first televised attack ad, which aired today, Bloomberg’s campaign calls Thompson a do-nothing bureaucrat who allowed a broken system to remain as it was. “When Thompson was president of the Board of Education, he ran the old system,” the ad says. “Dropout rates increased. Kids promoted even if they didn’t learn.”
The truth is far away from both of these poles. Interviews with people who worked with Thompson at the time and a review of newspaper articles from the period suggest that Thompson’s tenure at the Board of Education was neither innovative nor obstructive. It is better summarized by a story about a creamsicle.
In the 1990s, when Thompson was president of the board, a colleague with young children offered him a seat in his office and Thompson, accepting, unwittingly rested his arm in melted popsicle goo.
“I managed to get kids’ melted creamsicle popsicle crap all over his suit and he walked around like that all day,” said the colleague, who asked to remain anonymous because he still works in education. “He never got upset or went bonkers.” Instead, Thompson laughed off the sticky predicament, teased his co-worker, and in his typical unflappable manner, went back to work. (more…)
You can say a lot of things about Chris Cerf, the top Klein deputy who’s now joining the Bloomberg campaign. He’s passionate and fearlessly blunt about his view for how to improve schools. He can also be jolly and pragmatic, managing despite his tough talk on teachers unions to craft a solid working relationship with Randi Weingarten. But for someone who falls squarely on one side of a bitterly divided education world, this line just doesn’t make sense:
Mr. Cerf, a widely admired figure in the education world,
Which education world, New York Times?
The first thing we can learn from this piece of news is that Bloomberg definitely means to continue trying to shape the education world into the one Cerf supports. But whether Cerf will really be capable of doing what the Bloomberg campaign seems to expect him to do — deliver the charter school parent vote — is a wide open question. (more…)
September 3, 2009
Mark Green, the frontrunner in the race, is probably not scratching his head over this choice. In 2001, when Green ran for mayor, then-president of the UFT Randi Weingarten dismissed his education policy proposals and ended up endorsing one of his rivals in the Democratic primary, Alan Hevesi. (NY Mag called Weingarten and Green nemeses.) When Hevesi took last place, the union picked Fernando Ferrer in the runoff against Green, only backing Green when he ran against Michael Bloomberg.
In a statement released by the UFT, union president Michael Mulgrew heaped praise on de Blasio.
“Bill’s willingness to tackle tough issues and causes has been particularly impressive as has his desire to make building community partnerships a top priority. His work on behalf of educators, especially early childhood educators, and the students they serve, has been critical, as has his work to preserve safety net services that so many New Yorkers are depending on during these difficult economic times. To be an effective Public Advocate, one must not be afraid of speaking truth to power, and Bill always speaks the truth.”
September 1, 2009
Choosing its first favorite for a citywide race, the United Federation of Teachers will endorse John Liu for comptroller today at noon.
A recent poll shows comptroller candidate Melinda Katz has a modest lead over Liu, her main rival, though the four-way race remains tight, making union endorsements particularly important.
In a phone interview this morning, UFT president Michael Mulgrew said that Liu had impressed the teachers union with his work on the City Council’s Education Committee.
“He went out of the way to make sure he did his homework. He really knew all of the subjects,” Mulgrew said. “His homework that he would do on the city contracts was quite impressive — that he would know all the internal pieces and got into them, and the questioning of the no bid contracts.”
Mulgrew added that Liu’s business background and his work as chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee — he has frequently criticized the Department of Education’s re-writing of the school bus routes in 2007 — had been an additional draw. (more…)
August 12, 2009
Democratic primary day is sneaking up on the city, but candidates in district and city-wide races have offered little in the way of public pronouncements on the city’s schools.
To remedy this, GothamSchools is blanketing candidates’ inboxes with an education survey, asking candidates for their opinions on matters from how schools in their districts should be improved, to whether Chancellor Joel Klein should keep his job.
But there are dozens of races and even more candidates, so we’re asking our readers for assistance. If you know that a candidate in your district or borough is dodging important questions about the schools or has an interesting background in education, send us an email. (more…)
August 11, 2009
Joel Klein stayed positive about his reputation in an interview last night on NY1, even as host Dominic Carter played two different clips showing elected officials (both candidates for citywide office) criticizing the schools chancellor.
Klein chalked up any complaints he’s received to politics — and said President Obama is receiving the same kind of flak on the national stage, for implementing a similar education program.
“He’s putting those out there, and you know what’s happening? You get push back,” Klein said.
(I put in a call to David Cantor, Klein’s spokesman, and I’ll write to Klein too, because I’m curious what push back he’s referencing. Both teachers unions have largely supported the Race to the Top stimulus fund, if tentatively. Maybe Klein has in mind Diane Ravitch? Or could he have read Leonie Haimson’s Huffington Post piece yesterday, “Arne Duncan Has Become An Embarrassment”?)
Klein was particularly sanguine about the proposed extension of the city’s so-called “social promotion” ban announced yesterday. “When I came on here in 2004, when the mayor ended social promotion, you had the pictures — everybody was demonstrating, and all the noise,” Klein said. “Now it is 2009 and we have ended social promotion in every one of these grades, and you know what? You don’t hear noise any more, Dominic. You know why? People know what’s right for kids.” (more…)