New York City’s top watchdog, the public advocate, carries no stick but can speak loudly — and does often, when it comes to how the city’s schools are run.
Since the position was created in the 1990s, public advocates have weighed in on mayoral control, parent participation, and the charter cap. The last public advocate, now-Attorney General Letitia James, sued the city’s Department of Education multiple times over special education issues.
Now, many of the candidates to fill the vacated spot say they have big ideas for the city’s schools, from addressing segregation to reforming discipline policy to filling school cafeterias with healthier food.
Whoever wins the special election Feb. 26 won’t be able to make anyone take action or impose new policies. But he or she will be able to call attention to issues, refer public complaints to city agencies, compile reports for the City Council and mayor, and sponsor City Council legislation.
We asked each of the 17 candidates appearing on the ballot two questions: What do you think is the biggest education issue facing the city, and what out-of-school factors that impact classrooms would you address?
Eleven answered. Scroll down to see every candidate’s response, or select individual names using the tool below to narrow the field. The responses were edited for clarity and length.
The following candidates did not respond to multiple requests: Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, Jared Rich, City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Helal Sheikh, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (Walker reportedly ended her campaign but will still appear on the ballot), and Benjamin Yee.