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August 15, 2013
Quinn, de Blasio tangle over schools as campaign trail heats up
Newly considered a frontrunner in the Democratic mayoral primary, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is taking aim at City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and he's using her education record as ammunition. Their dustup over after-school funding was only one of several statements that mayoral candidates made today about their plans for the city's schools, as the pace of proposals — and re-proposals — picks up with the primary just weeks away. Displaying a chart titled "New York City Out-of-School Time Seats Past Six Years Under Bloomberg and Quinn" at a press conference outside East Side Community High School today, de Blasio decried Quinn as complicit in recent cuts to city-funded after-school and child-care programs.
August 6, 2013
Mayoral hopefuls hit Bloomberg over looming test score decline
Mayoral candidates have declared open season on Mayor Bloomberg's education legacy on the eve of new test scores that will be much lower than in the past. What began last week as a fight between the teachers union and City Hall spilled out onto the campaign trail this week with a flurry of critical comments from Democratic contenders about test score gains under Bloomberg and his eagerness to tout them as evidence of his administration's success. "The days of the mayor dislocating his shoulder patting himself on the back should be over," Anthony Weiner told reporters this morning at an education event. Weiner said it wasn't "entirely fair" to blame Bloomberg for the anticipated drop in scores, which reflect student performance on state tests that were for the first time aligned to more challenging learning standards known as the Common Core. But Weiner later added that the "constant emphasis on testing in schools has created nothing but trouble" and even suggested that Bloomberg helped "fudge" the scores at top-performing schools for political gain. "There was a spate of press conferences about how amazing schools were doing that were later discredited when those numbers came crashing back to Earth," Weiner said.
August 5, 2013
Weiner's newest education ideas are old fodder for campaign
As he continued to deflect attention away from his online misdeeds, Anthony Weiner released a second set of policy proposals today, including more than a dozen priorities for the schools system that would guide him as mayor. Some of the ideas, contained in an updated version of his "Keys to the City" policy book, are new to the mayoral race. For instance, he wants to make financial literacy a required high school subject to help students manage college debt, and to create a new school leadership position that would exclusively handle a school's operational needs. But many of the priorities blend into similar proposals that have been offered repeatedly by other candidates in some form or another throughout the campaign. They include holding onto mayoral control, as well as proposals to improve career and technical education, increase teacher retention, extend learning time and expand community services provided by schools. One proposal, no. 89, is unclear about what new school reform it is trying to address. It says that new learning standards, known as the Common Core, are being introduced in the fall, and that teachers will "receive a very short training session" on implementation this month. But the new standards — and state tests aligned to them — rolled out last year and the city says it has spent more than $100 million to train teachers on the standards in the past two years.
July 25, 2013
Weiner evades issue dealing with sexual misconduct in schools
This week's Anthony Weiner sex scandal had an odd side effect for the education policy debate in the mayor's race. It caused AFT President Randi Weingarten to raise an issue that has been a thorn in the union's side. "So how can Anthony run for Mayor, when a teacher for the same conduct would be fired," Weingarten said in a tweet yesterday. She was referring to a push to tighten punishments for teachers found guilty of inappropriate behavior that the union here has opposed. Since 2007, the city has been unable to fire nearly 100 people working in schools for a variety of sexual indiscretions that range from verbal abuse to physical contact, according to the Daily News. It’s a tiny fraction of one percent of the city’s 80,000-plus school staff, but a group of anti-union advocates have tried to make the issue a question in the mayor's race, asking candidates if they support giving the city more power to fire people for sexual indiscretions. Weiner is one of the candidates who hasn't responded to a questionairre by the advocacy group pushing candidates to take a position on tightening the rules and his spokeswoman did not respond to GothamSchools' questions. Getting caught for sending lewd pictures of himself to women is the type of behavior that would put Weiner in the city's crosshairs if he were a teacher.
July 10, 2013
Weiner would give private schools equal standing at city DOE
Anthony Weiner presents a proposal to support non-public schools outside a shuttered Catholic school in the Bronx. Private schools would get a promotion in Anthony Weiner's Department of Education if he's elected mayor. A headlining proposal of Weiner's plan to save Catholic schools would be to elevate the head of the office that administers taxpayer-funded services to non-public schools to a cabinet position, "giving them essentially a seat at the table at the highest realm," the former congressman said today at a press conference where he unveiled his plans. Right now, the "Non-Public Schools Unit" is a relatively obscure office within the city's education department, falling under the Division of Operations. It distributes funds and services to which private schools are legally entitled under state and federal law. These include funding for textbooks and technology, and in-school nurses. In all, non-public schools, including charter schools, received $260 million for those services last year, according to the city's Independent Budget Office. But Weiner said non-public schools aren't taking full advantage of the funding streams they're entitled to. To make it easier, Weiner is proposing to digitize the loan process so schools could submit applications online. He said he'd also match the state's dollars with city money to provide additional technology for non-public schools.
June 12, 2013
Liu stands his ground, Weiner impresses in charter-led forum
Former congressman and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner poses with a parent and student from Girls Prep Bronx at a forum led by charter school parents Tuesday night. Many parents gave Weiner a favorable review. Some mayoral candidates who have been critical of charter schools avoided uncomfortable questions by skipping a forum hosted by charter school advocates Tuesday night. But Comptroller John Liu not only showed up but said he would issue a potentially crippling blow to the charter sector if he becomes mayor. Liu said he would charge rent to charter schools that occupy space in city buildings, reversing a Bloomberg administration policy of awarding unused space in school buildings to charter schools that want to operate there. The policy has allowed the city's charter sector to flourish. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former congressman Anthony Weiner — who emerged as the audience's clear favorites — both said they would not consider charging rent, something that some critics of charter schools want the next mayor to do. "The model of charter schools is in part based on not paying rent," Quinn said. "So if you say you're going to pay rent, then you're not going to have charters."
June 3, 2013
Candidates who'd have to execute evaluations walk a fine line
Mayoral candidates face political considerations when commenting on the city's state-imposed teacher evaluation system. Several have reflected concerns that the UFT raised. 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.
May 28, 2013
Weiner steps out, and against competitors, at education debate
In his first debate as a mayoral candidate, former congressman Anthony Weiner distinguished himself from his Democratic rivals and made it clear he was not going to tell the event's organizers what they wanted to hear. The debate Tuesday afternoon was organized by New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a group that formed to oppose the Bloomberg administration's school policies, and questions were tilted heavily toward the group's agenda. Weiner and all the other Democratic candidates, except City Council Speaker Christine Quinn who dropped out over the weekend, answered questions from moderator Zakiyah Ansari, a parent activist and spokeswoman for NY-GPS. Most of the candidates spent the debate reiterating positions they've taken in the past that fall close to what the group says it wants from the next mayor. They promised to refrain from closing schools and curbing school space-sharing arrangements, for example. But Weiner stood apart from his competitors, both by rising each time he answered a question and by staking out unpopular positions. He was the only candidate to say he would not shift control of school discipline from the New York Police Department to principals and would not earmark special funding for arts education in schools.
May 28, 2013
Mayoral debate on education grows contentious before it starts
At a forum hosted by ParentVoicesNY earlier this month, organizers left a seat open for Christine Quinn, who did not attend. Quinn is also not attending a debate hosted today by New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a group that opposes the Bloomberg administration's school policies. Christine Quinn won't attend today's education forum organized by a group that opposes the Bloomberg administration's school policies, but Anthony Weiner and an advocacy group that backs Bloomberg's policies will. The lineup for the debate that New Yorkers for Great Public Schools will host at New York University today changed several times over the weekend, with tweaks announced in a frenzied series of press releases. "In Quinn's absence, Weiner and other candidates will be able to rebut her public positions on key education issues," the group said in a press advisory this morning. The advisory appeared to confirm the expectation that Quinn, who received a chilly reception at a New Yorkers for Great Public Schools event last year, would not have an easy time if she did participate in today's debate.
May 23, 2013
Weiner supports co-locations, Catholic schools on first day out
Anthony Weiner's views on education policy became a little clearer on his first full day on the campaign trail, when he told WNYC's Brian Lehrer that he supports letting charter schools use space in public school buildings. The issue puts him at odds with several of his Democratic competitors for mayor, who have said they would impose a moratorium on the space-sharing arrangements. Co-location has induced tension in many school buildings, but it has also allowed the city's charter school sector to thrive, and whether to continue the practice is a major decision facing the next mayor. In fact, on the issue of school choice, Weiner suggested that his support extends well beyond the public school system. He proposed helping non-public schools — he cited cash-strapped Catholic schools in particular — with publicly funded support that they are already entitled to, including technology, health care and security. He first floated the idea in his 2009 policy book "Keys to the City," which he re-released last month.
May 22, 2013
Weiner enters race with education platform a big question mark
Anthony Weiner points to a public school in the video he released today to announce his mayoral campaign. New Yorkers know a lot of things about the latest entrant to the mayoral race — but not where he stands on hot-button education policy issues. Anthony Weiner, who resigned from Congress in 2011 after a sexting scandal, launched his campaign with an video posted – apparently prematurely — early this morning. He becomes the sixth major Democratic candidate, landing in second place to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a poll released today. Though his candidacy is seen as a long shot, Weiner is assured of media attention and is in a position to influence campaign trail conversation. In the campaign kickoff video, he cites high housing costs and a scarcity of jobs that offer benefits to paint a picture of himself as a champion of the middle class. He also mentions education, saying, "Our schools aren't what they should be." But Weiner's vision for the city's schools is not at all clear. He barely broached the topic of education in 2005, when he ran for mayor, and 2009, when he briefly considered running again.
May 6, 2013
Weiner's proposal to "remove troublesome students" draws fire
Students rallied outside Anthony Weiner's apartment building against the possible mayoral candidate's position on school discipline. (Photo: New Yorkers for Great Public Schools) Anthony Weiner has no campaign office or campaign stops, because he has no mayoral campaign, at least for now. So students are heading to his home on Park Avenue today to protest a centerpiece of his education policy proposals. Students who are part of the Urban Youth Collaborative are rallying outside Weiner's apartment building this afternoon to oppose what they say is a "discriminatory" position on school discipline. The students — who are no newcomers to political theater — say Weiner's proposal to "streamline the process of removing troublesome kids from the classroom" would unfairly target black and Latino students. The proposal topped Weiner's education agenda in a recent policy booklet, "Keys to the City," which was an updated version of a 2009 document by the same name. Weiner's policy proposal says nothing about the race of the students the policy would affect, of course. But the students are pointing to data about who bears the brunt of discipline under the Bloomberg administration to suggest that those trends would likely hold true.
April 18, 2013
Maybe-candidate Weiner's education priorities are a throwback
The city's schools are different now from how they were in 2009, the last time Anthony Weiner considered a mayoral run. Two chancellors have left, and two have arrived; budgets are tighter after successive years of cuts; and students and teachers are being asked to meet higher standards. But for Weiner, the disgraced politician who is weighing a comeback mayoral candidacy, not much has changed. In a policy brief he released early this week as part of a media campaign to test the electoral waters, he lists school discipline as the city's top education priority — just as he did in a similar document in 2009. Weiner has drawn criticism for re-releasing the document, called "Keys to the City," without a thorough revision. But the education section of the new version is more detailed than the 2009 version. Weiner lists 11 educational priorities, starting with "streamline the process of removing troublesome kids from the classroom" and ending with a proposal to give New Yorkers who complete a year of service a free year's tuition at the City University of New York.
March 20, 2009
Anthony Weiner: Schools work is Bloomberg's "biggest failure"
Rep. Anthony Weiner at today criticized Mayor Bloomberg's work in the public schools — and seemed like he might want to keep doing that straight into City Hall. Anthony Weiner, the congressman who used to be a mayoral candidate and now is not so sure, sounded very much like he's still running at the Assembly hearing in Brooklyn today on mayoral control. In a brief interview with me, Weiner said that if he does run for mayor, education would be an important part of his case against the incumbent, Michael Bloomberg. "Arguably the most important part of the conversation," he said. He then declared of Bloomberg, "I think his most profound success was gaining mayoral control, and his biggest failure is what he's done with it." Weiner's testimony to the Assembly members who held the hearing comprised might have been his most bristling criticism of Mayor Bloomberg's education program yet — and was certainly a departure from previous declarations that he has made promising not to "undo" Bloomberg's work but to "build on" it. He said the mayor has both failed to empower parents and teachers — and has not produced good academic results. "When you look at the only true thing that you know can’t be fudged, how we’re doing on the national test, the results are decidedly mixed, and that’s putting it favorably," Weiner said. The candidate-like posturing came as a surprise to some at the hearing, who said they assumed the congressman's recent decision to hand back $60,000 in campaign contributions meant he was out of the race. One attendee, Damon Cabbagestalk Jr., a black reverend who has run for public advocate in the past, smacked Weiner on the back as he left the room at City Technical College and told him he hopes he runs for mayor. "You've got my vote," Cabbagestalk said.
March 20, 2009
Thompson: Let mayor keep school control, but limit his options
Comptroller Bill Thompson. (Via ##http://flickr.com/photos/azipaybarah/2376506857/##Azi's Flickr##.) As the debate over mayoral control mounted this winter, Comptroller William Thompson, himself a mayoral hopeful, conspicuously did not address the essential question of whether the mayor should control a majority of members on the city school board. Today, Thompson revealed his position: The mayor should appoint every board member — but he shouldn't have unlimited choice. Instead, according to a plan that Thompson outlined before Assembly members at a hearing on school governance in Brooklyn this morning, the mayor should select board members for two-year-long terms from a slate of candidates put forth by a 19-member "nominating committee" representing a diverse set of interests. Under the plan, the committee would be composed of Five members appointed by the Mayor; One member apiece appointed by Borough Presidents; Four parent members chosen by the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council; A teacher selected by the United Federation of Teachers; A principal chosen by the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators; A college or university president selected by the New York State Education Commissioner; A member of the business community appointed by an organized business entity selected by the Mayor; and An education school faculty member selected by the college or university president member In a statement, Thompson said the arrangement would allow the mayor to set education policy but would ensure that the perspectives of parents, teachers, and education experts are included in the decision-making process. A chief complaint of Mayor Bloomberg's control over the schools since 2002 is that those constituencies have been ignored. The man most considered most likely to join Thompson in the mayor's race (other than Bloomberg himself), Rep. Anthony Weiner, has said he supports "unfettered" mayoral control, with the mayor continuing to control most seats on the city school board. Thompson's full statement, which includes his proposals for strengthening parent involvement and monitoring education department data, is below the jump.
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