Posts tagged "noah gotbaum"
April 8, 2013
Noah Gotbaum’s City Council campaign got off to a bumpy start this weekend, when parents charged him with seeking to politicize their school’s involvement in a redevelopment proposal.
Gotbaum, a seasoned education advocate hoping to distinguish himself in the crowded Upper West Side race to fill Gale Brewer’s seat, held his campaign launch event on Saturday at P.S. 199, a popular neighborhood elementary school. It is one of three schools whose property the city may use for a luxury residential development, a controversial plan that was first discovered by parents when they saw advertisements about it.
As part of any development deal, the new luxury towers would have to include space on the ground floors to house the school that they displaced during construction.
Gotbaum, who opposes the plan, said he picked P.S. 199 because it was symbolic of what he believed would be a crucial issue in the election. He said he is the only candidate in the race who has called for an immediate halt to the plan. (more…)
August 7, 2012
Not satisfied with simply railing against the Bloomberg administration’s education policies in the lead-up to the 2013 mayoral election, more than 20 community and advocacy groups have formed a coalition to urge a different path.
And if the coalition, called A+ NYC, is successful, that path will be lined with education research.
A+ NYC is the latest entrant into a crowded field of education advocates aiming to influence the mayoral election. It is driven by many of the same advocacy groups that just four months ago signed on to New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, which aims to oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s schools policies.
But organizers of both coalitions say they have very different strategies. Participants in A+ NYC say their coalition doesn’t share the blanket opposition to his education policies that New Yorkers for Great Public Schools proclaimed when it announced itself in May. Instead, they say, the new coalition is about policy, not politics.
“I think that this coalition is not focused on Bloomberg at all,” said Megan Hester, a coordinator for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, which supports the Coalition for Educational Justice. ”It’s focused on what we want from the next mayor.”
Hester said A+ NYC, which convened for the first time last week, would focus on compiling education research to share with candidates as they develop their platforms. Eventually, she said, A+ NYC would establish its own policy recommendations and push candidates to adopt similar positions. (more…)
June 22, 2012
Parents and community activists protested in Harlem yesterday, taking turns to give speeches and heed warnings to schools that will soon share space with a controversial charter network.
But unlike previous protests against the Success Charter network, the rally was significantly smaller. Noticeably missing were the politicians who came out to support a protest against the plan to bring a new Success Academy to the building where Wadleigh Secondary School of Performing Arts operates.
Organizers said they didn’t expect politicians or union to attend because they were busy dealing with last-minute city budget affairs and the close of the state legislative session. Instead, they said the rally was planned specifically with parents in mind – after state exams ended this week.
“This is not a union rally. This is not a special interest rally. This is a parent and a community rally,” said Noah Gotbaum, a vocal education activist and member of Community Education Council 3.
At yesterday’s event, approximately 50 protestors chanted “separate is unequal” and held signs despite in 95 degree weather at 110th Street and Fredrick Douglass Boulevard, just a few blocks from Wadleigh. A handful of children attended the event. (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…)
February 28, 2012
When the Bloomberg Administration threatened to shut down a school in Assemblyman Keith Wright’s district this year, Wright vowed to create legislation to repeal mayoral control of the schools.
The city didn’t go through with the closure, but Wright is making good on his word — at least to a degree — by introducing a bill that would chip away at one of the mayor’s most controversial powers: the ability to install schools inside other schools’ buildings.
The bill would require elected parent councils known as Community Education Councils to approve any co-location proposal before it may go into effect.
Co-location proposals often generate heated debate within districts, particularly when the city is proposing to move a charter school into a district building. The CECs regularly play a vocal role in opposing charter school co-locations within their district schools, but they have no power to stop them or any other co-location.
Instead, the Panel for Educational Policy, which has never rejected a city proposal, must approve co-locations.
Parents, politicians, advocacy groups and representatives of at least three CECs rallied infront of Department of Education headquarters this morning to show their support for Wright’s bill, saying they hope it will pass because the CECs already must vote on zone lines within their districts.
Co-locations were the only subject of today’s rally; but according to Noah Gotbaum, a member of CEC for District 3, the CECs are hoping the co-location bill will be the first step toward legislation restricting the city’s ability to close schools, and eventually leading to the outright end of mayoral control. (more…)
September 7, 2011
The city should rethink the money used on outside consultants to save the jobs of the school aides, health workers, and parent coordinators who help schools function from the inside.
That was the message delivered by members of DC-37, parents, teachers, activists, and elected officials during a protest on the steps of Tweed Courthouse today against the impending layoffs of nearly 800 school workers, most of them DC-37 members. The cuts – announced Aug. 15 – are slated to take effect in October.
Noah Gotbaum, who is on the District 3 Community Education Council and a parent of three public school children, said the loss of parent coordinators is a significant setback. “One of the only things Bloomberg did right is creating the position of parent coordinator, and now he’s kicking them off,” he said.
Other parents said they were most concerned about how the layoffs would affect their children. “What about the safety of our children in the lunchroom? In the courtyard? In the hallways? On the buses?” asked Muba Yarofulani, a parent activist who has a chld and the parent of an eighth grader. “Safety is very important and the less school aides we have, the less schools are safe for our children.”
July 26, 2011
After less than a year on the job, Ojeda Hall, the director of the troubled office that oversaw this year’s botched parent leader elections, is out.
The Department of Education announced today that Jesse Mojica, head policy analyst for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., will replace Hall as head of the Office of Family Information and Action next month.
The position is also being promoted, so that Mojica will also be a member of Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s cabinet of advisors. Mojica will make $138,000 a year, compared to Hall’s $115,000 annual salary.
Walcott’s decision to bring on board the education point person of a critic of the city’s education policies comes after a disastrous spring for the long-beleaguered family engagement office. Community Education Council elections were problematic from the start, and even on a delayed timetable elicited few candidates and votes.
Some parents charged that the botched election process symbolized of the Bloomberg administration’s dismissive attitude toward parent engagement.
Walcott also expressed dissatisfaction with the process, but was previously unwavering in his support for Hall. Today, Walcott praised Hall but said he hoped that changes at OFIA would improve the relationship between the DOE and public school parents. (more…)
July 25, 2011
Just days after the city received some good news in a lawsuit targeting its policy on charter school co-locations, another legal battle has arrived.
A group of parent activists filed a long-threatened lawsuit against the Department of Education today, charging that it is in violation of state law that requires school districts to collect rent and utility money from charters schools that occupy public school buildings.
The state education law cited in the lawsuit, Section 2853(4)(c), asserts that charters may rent public space and be provided with basic maintenance services, such as custodial work, utility payments and safety measures. But the law also states that the expenses from these services should be provided to charters “at cost.”
The exact amount of “at cost” is not clearly explained in the law – and state education officials did not respond to emails seeking clarification – but the city currently charges $1 in annual rent to about 80 charter schools that operate in public school buildings. It also waives fees for utilities and provides operational services.
The lawsuit estimates that these costs add up to $100 million per year and should be shouldered entirely by charter schools. (more…)
June 9, 2011
Add one more snag to the list of woes plaguing this year’s community education council elections. Dozens of run-off elections happened this week with such scant notice that several parent leaders said that they weren’t aware the election existed until hours after it began.
The 48-hour run-off elections began Wednesday after first-round elections in 27 districts yielded either ties or fewer than the nine required council representatives. But information about the run-off was not announced until hours after online ballot boxes opened yesterday. Even then, several of the parent leaders who vote in these elections said that they weren’t notified of the run-offs .
The election will decide who will serve two-year terms on the community education councils beginning next school year. Representatives are scheduled to be announced tomorrow.
Caroline Hall, PTA co-president at P.S. 151, said she learned about the run-off from another parent yesterday.
“We didn’t get any official notification,” said Hall, whose husband, the PTA treasurer, is also one of the so-called “selector” parent leaders who vote in the elections. “If we weren’t the kind of people who were diligent, we would have given up.” (more…)
April 26, 2011
Lawyers for a charter school network are asking the State Supreme Court to dimiss a co-location lawsuit filed by parents on the Upper West Side.
The parents’ lawsuit seeks to block Success Academy network from opening a charter school in the Brandeis Educational Campus, which is currently home to five public high schools. It accuses the city’s Department of Education of using inaccurate enrollment numbers to make the case that the building has enough space for a sixth school. Responding to the lawsuit today, lawyers for the charter school said that the suit should be dismissed. City attorneys said they plan to file a similar response.
“We will be filing the papers with the court shortly and we oppose the relief sought by the plaintiffs,” said city attorney Thomas Crane.
In their response to the parents’ suit, Success Academy lawyers said that the parents’ arguments “nitpick to an absurd degree” and “engage in unseemly fearmongering.” They said that what’s driving the Upper West Side parents’ lawsuit is anger that despite massive opposition, the city’s school board voted to give the charter school space in Brandeis. (more…)