Archives for category: New York

When the cowardly House Republicans decided to grovel before Trump despite his failed coup attempt, Liz Cheney was ousted as the #3 Republican in the House and replaced by Elise Stefanik of upstate New York. Stefanik was elected as a moderate but decided that her future would be secured by joining the Trumpists. She did and got into the mainstream, which was now subservient to the disgraced 45.

Alan Singer of Hofstra University shows that Stefanik has gone full-MAGA. She recently accused the New York State Department of Education of promoting critical race theory. What she meant was that the state expects schools to teach honest and accurate history. To a true MAGA sycophant, that is intolerable. To challenge her means you are engaged in a “witch hunt.” Is she a witch?

Singer writes:

Top House Republican leader, Trump sycophant, and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, Representative Elise Stefanik of upstate New York, is busy attacking the New York State Department of Education claiming it is using federal funds to promote the dreaded Critical Race Theory or CRT in state public schools. Stefanik is also pressing New York education officials on how they are using money provided through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) on “social emotional learning” and “culturally responsive and sustaining education.”

State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa tried to explain to Stefanik that “the state Education Department does not provide critical race theory. It does, however, provide critical thinking. This allows our children to distinguish fact from opinion, achieve deeper understanding.” Rosa added, “Your accusation — whether intentional or negligent — is disappointing. What lesson are we teaching our children when a U.S. Representative traffics in conspiracies — and conflates opinions with fact.”

Stefanik replied “Instead of addressing my questions into the blatant misuse of federal taxpayer dollars, Commissioner Rosa shamefully attacked me. The facts in my letter were clear, and the implementation of CRT by any other name in New York classrooms is wrong. It is no surprise the Far-Left department would fail to fully comply with my request for the truth and revert to petty name-calling, because they know how outraged parents would be if they knew their hard-earned taxpayer dollars were used to peddle this radical ideology.”

Unfortunately, Stefanik, who graduated from Harvard University, seems unable to understand the distinction between Critical Race Theory and critical thinking or the difference between Critical Race Theory and respect for diversity and inclusion.

There must be something wrong with education at Harvard. Senate Republicans with Harvard degrees include rightwing Presidential hopefuls Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and “Ted” Cruz (Texas). Other Senate Republicans who are Harvard alums are Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Michael Braun (Indiana), Michael Crapo (Idaho), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania). Beside Stefanik, there are five other Harvard alum serving as Republican members in the House of Representatives. Harvard can also boast rightwing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin as alums. Youngkin recently appointed a Civil War apologist to the Virginia historic resources board who insist that the he Civil War was fought to defend the “sovereignty of each state and constitutional law” and that statues celebrating Confederate leaders who made war against the United States “were built to tell the true story of the American South.”

The U.S. Supreme Court struck downNew York’s century-old concealed-carry gun law Thursday, removing restrictions on carrying guns in public and delivering a win to gun enthusiasts. The 6-3 ruling, which has been anticipated in the conservative-leaning court, makes it harder for officials to prevent civilians from carrying firearms in public without a permit by striking down New York’s rule that prospective gun-toters have “proper cause” to carry a weapon.

New York has long had separate measures in place to grant gun ownership for the home and for concealed carry in public.

The state’s top officials vowed to regroup and enact new measures to shore up New York’s gun control laws after the ruling Thursday, which kicks some decision-making back to a lower court and opens up new potential room for states to define “sensitive locations” where they will prohibit guns, like schools, courts, and, perhaps, subways, sports venues, and beyond.

Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, all Democrats, vowed to return to Albany to pass additional legislation. “I’m prepared to call the Legislature back into session to deal with this. We’ve been in contact with the leadership. We’re just looking at dates,” Hochul said.

Lawmakers are looking at ways to strengthen existing permitting requirements, enable private businesses to ban guns, and increase the number of areas deemed “sensitive locations,” where the Court left the carve-out for restricting guns. Hochul signed Alyssa’s LawThursday, requiring schools to consider installing silent panic alarms as part of their security systems following the mass shooting in a Texas elementary school last month.

The New York City Council will hold an oversight hearing on “access to firearms” on Friday — Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council members on Thursday called on the state to make virtually all of New York City a sensitive location to prohibit concealed carry in the five boroughs.

Attorney General Letitia James and a number of prosecutors around the state, including in New York City, vowed to examine the ruling and look for ways to limit the dangers of guns proliferating in public.

Mayor Eric Adams said the city was reviewing its definition of “sensitive locations, and the city’s own gun license application process in light of the ruling. “Put simply, this Supreme Court ruling will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence,” the mayor said in a statement.

The New York State Board of Regents recently decided to permit the Ember Charter School in Brooklyn to expand and add a high school. Charter schools get permission to grow if they have demonstrated success. Gary Rubinstein checked state data and found that Ember’s greatest “success” was getting rid of students by attrition.

The Regents must know this too. Why did they vote to expand a failing charter school?

Rubinstein writes:

Currently there are 267 charter schools in New York City. In New York State the charter ‘cap’ is 460, though the cap for New York City is 267 so as of right now, no new charters can open in New York City.

Charter school supporters often complain that the cap needs to be lifted or that some of the out of NYC charter slots could be given to New York City. But there are two ways that charters can get more students even without lifting the cap. The most obvious way is for charters to reduce their attrition rates. So a network like Success Academy has about 40,000 students right now. But about 75% of their students who start in kindergarten don’t make it to graduation. Success Academy could probably increase their population to 70,000 if few of their students weren’t on the official or unofficial ‘got-to-go’ list. The other way to evade the cap is for existing charter schools to expand into more grades.

Ember charter school is a K-10 school that currently has 568 students. They were recently permitted to add high school grades based, in part, on the school’s ability to raise test scores. If you go to their website you will see a very impressive looking graph:

The light green line shows the percent of their first cohort’s math percent passing the state test from grade 3 to grade 7. It went from 28% in grade 3 down to 23% in grade 4 and then again to 14% in grade 5 Then an amazing reversal occurred and in 6th grade they shot up from 14% up to 56% and the next year they had 82% passing in grade 7. It seems to be an incredible turnaround from 14% to 82% in just 2 years.

When faced with a miracle statistic like this, there are two questions that cross my mind. The first thing I wonder is how much of this growth is based on attrition. The second is whether they were able to replicate this success for their other cohorts.

For that first cohort who finished 7th grade in 2018, I found on the New York State data site that this cohort once had 60 students when they were in first grade. By the time they got to the miracle 2017-2018 year where they got 82% passing the math test, they were down to just 28 students. Here is a graph of their percent passing math and their cohort size on the same graph.

As you can see, the two graphs are practically mirror images of each other. When they were 3rd graders, 16 out of 57 was 28%. When they were in 7th grade, 23 out of 28 was 82%. So basically they got 7 more kids to pass the test.

I made a similar chart for the second and third cohorts. The second cohort had similar attrition, they went fro 71 students down to 37 between 4th grade and 7th grade but they did not get the 82% passing by 7th grade. They only got to 43% passing, even with the nearly 50% attrition.

The third cohort was the lowest performing of all. They had almost no attrition, keeping around 65 students throughout. They only had 6% of that cohort passing in both 3rd and 4th grade. And by 6th grade they were up to 23%, well below the district.

So just like so many other charter schools, when they can’t cheat by booting out their students, their test scores are nothing special. How they get permission to expand is definitely a scandal.

Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, asks you for your help. The state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill to require reduced class sizes in NYC. Governor Hochul has not sign it yet. If she doesn’t sign within 39 days, it’s a “pocket veto.” At the same time, NYC Mayor Eric Adams plans to cut the budget for schools. This would certainly make class size reduction impossible. Act now!

On June 3, the NY State Legislature passed S09460/ A10498, a long-needed bill to require NYC to lower class sizes, by a vote of 147 to 2 in the State Assembly and 59 to 4 in the State Senate. It calls for class size caps to be phased in over five years in all New York City public schools, whose students have long struggled from being jammed into the largest class sizes in the state.

Instead of abiding by the intent of this bill, Mayor Adams and the City Council agreed to a budget that will cut school budgets by at least $215 million, making it likely that class sizes will increase rather than decrease next fall.

Please sign this petition to Gov. Hochul to sign the class size bill as soon as possible, so that NYC schools can get on the right track towards improving learning conditions rather than undermining them. The petition is co-sponsored by Class Size Matters, the Alliance for Quality Education, NYC Kids PAC and the Education Council Consortium.

If you are like me, your head is spinning about the conflicting signals about New York City’s public schools. The state legislature voted to mandate smaller class sizes, which will cost money, but the City Council voted to cut the schools’ budget.

Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, encourages everyone to fight back. She has spent more than 20 years arguing for reduced class sizes as the most effective reform for schools.

Here is her message:

Dear folks – 

Sadly, late Monday night the NYC Council agreedto a city budget that will make at least $215M in cuts directly to schools, by a 44-6 vote. These egregious cuts, the largest since the Great Recession of 2007-2008, were made despite billions more in the city’s reserve fund, an expected city budget surplus of more than $1B next year, and nearly $5B in unspent federal stimulus funds meant for our schools. These cuts will likely cause class sizes to increase and the loss of critical services for kids, who are still recovering from the disruptions caused by more than two years of the pandemic.

There are three things you can do now to help us fight back:  

1.Sign our petition to Gov. Hochul, urging her to sign the new state class size bill, S09460A10498,as soon as possible, passed by the New York State Legislature on June 3 by a vote of 147 to 2 in the Assembly and 59 to 4 in the State Senate. Once she signs the bill, it will give us a legal avenue to try to reverse or limit the damage of these inexcusable cuts. The petition is co-sponsored by NYC Kids PAC, AQE and the Education Council Consortium.

2. You can also let DOE know directly how you feel about these cuts at the final C4E hearings tonight, Wed. June 15. You can sign up here, starting at 5 PM; the hearings begin at 6 PM. The public comments are required to be summarized, posted and sent to the NY State Education Department to help them decide whether to approve the city’s C4E plan. It goes without saying that “Excellence” will be harder to achieve than ever in our schools, given these devastating cuts. Some additional talking points are here.

3. Please also attend our Annual Skinny Award celebration, on Monday June 27, in which we will honor the state leaders who made the new class size bill possible.   You can find out more about our honorees and how to purchase your tickets here. This is the first fundraiser Class Size Matters has held in three years — and we can really use your support. The education leaders who will be there to receive their awards also deserve your thanks.

But don’t forget to sign our petition to Gov. Hochul today! I will be up in Albany tomorrow and will deliver it to her office if there are enough signatures by then.

Thanks, Leonie 

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
phone: 917-435-9329
leonie@classsizematters.org
www.classsizematters.org
Follow on twitter @leoniehaimson
Subscribe to the Class Size Matters newsletter for regular updates at http://tinyurl.com/kj5y5co
Subscribe to the NYC Education list serv by emailing NYCeducationnews+subscribe@groups.io

Host of “Talk out of School” WBAI radio show and podcast at https://talk-out-of-school.simplecast.com/

Leonie Haimson urges every concerned New Yorker to call Governor Hochul and sign the class-size-reduction bill. If she does not sign within 30 days, the bill will die.

ACT NOW!

Whew! The long-awaited and much-needed class size bill was passed yesterday afternoon by the NY State Senate, 59 to 4, and late last night by the State Assembly. It calls for class size caps in NYC public schools of no more than 20 students in grades K-3; 23 students in 4th-8th grades; and 25 in high school academic classes, phased in over five years. If implemented well, it will bring a sea-change to our schools, and equity at last to NYC kids.

Our press release is here, along with quotes from AQE and the Ed Law Center, hailing the passage of this bill and thanking the key Legislators who made this happen. It is now up to us to ensure that the DOE’s class size reduction plan and its implementation are reasonable, effective, and responsive to parent and community concerns.

But the first step is to urge Gov. Hochul to sign the bill, so the planning can start NOW. Please call her today at 1-518-474-8390 or send her a message via her contact form here. Tell her: “Please sign A10498/S09460 now so that NYC students can benefit from the smaller classes that kids in the rest of the state already receive.”

Yes!!!

After years of rallying, protesting, and demanding class size reductions, the parents and teachers of New York won! The legislature passed a bill mandating a reduction in class sizes.

This is the single most powerful reform that will help students, especially the neediest students, who will benefit from smaller classes and more teacher attention.

Class size reduction matters more than school choice or teacher evaluation or other expensive but ineffective fads.

A special shout out to Leonie Haimson, the unpaid executive director of Class Size matters, who has fought this battle with all her time and energy for years.

I’m proud to say that I am a board member of Class Size Matters and Leonie is a board member of the Network for Public Education.

Please sign up now for our Annual Parent Action Conference on Saturday June 4 from 4 PM to 6 PM EST, co-sponsored by NYC Kids PAC and held via Zoom.  

Invited keynote speakers include Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Sen. Robert Jackson and NYC Council Education Chair Rita Joseph.

We will also brief you on the proposed budget cuts to NYC schools, and what parents can do to prevent them from happening.

This will be followed by a choice of workshops on these important issues:

  • Reforming Fair Student Funding
  • Resources for parents navigating the special education system
  • How DOE puts your child’s privacy at risk
  • Literacy in NYC: How parents forced a change
  • The problems with charter schools
  • Parent organizing and advocacy

Please register now at Eventbrite here or at https://tinyurl.com/PACconference22  

A flyer you can download and share is here.

Hope to see you there!

thanks Leonie

PS Please keep those calls going to your Legislators about including requiring that class size be reduced in any agreement on Mayoral control; links to their contact info as well as a script is posted here.

In New York State, a court determined that the state’s congressional districts were gerrymandered in favor of Democrats. The special master appointed by the court drew new districts that dilutes the black vote and negatively affects Congressman Jamaal Bowman, one of the state’s most progressive members of Congress. The redistricting might lead to a primary between Bowman and Rep. Mondaire Jones, who is also Black. That would mean the loss of a Black member of Congress. The redistricting is weighted towards helping Republican candidates.

The New York Times writes that the new map is likely to create seats for Republicans.

The new lines even cast the future of several long-tenured, powerful Democratic incumbents in doubt, forcing several to potentially run against one another.

The most striking example came from New York City, where Mr. Cervas’s proposal pushed Representatives Jerrold Nadler, a stalwart Upper West Side liberal, and Carolyn Maloney of the Upper East Side into the same district, setting up a potentially explosive primary fight in the heart of Manhattan. Both lawmakers are in their 70s, have been in Congress for close to 30 years and lead powerful House committees.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a favorite to become the party’s next leader, was one of a handful of incumbent lawmakers who, under the new map, would no longer reside in the districts they represent. In one case, the new lines put Representative Brian Higgins mere steps outside his greater Buffalo district.

Taken together, the proposed changes have broad national implications, effectively handing Republicans the upper hand in a national fight for control of the House, and rattling the top echelons of House Democratic leadership…

In a blistering statement, Mr. Jeffries accused the court of ignoring the input of communities of color, diluting the power of Black voters and pitting Black incumbents against each other in “a tactic that would make Jim Crow blush.”

One of my friends, Jamaal Bowman, has been imperiled by the redistricting. His office issued this statement:

For Immediate Release
Date: May 17, 2022
Contact
press@bowmanforcongress.com


STATEMENT: Rep. Jamaal Bowman Responds to Proposed District Map that Decreases the NY-16 Black Voter Population by 17%
 

YONKERS, NY – Yesterday a court filing unveiled the newly redrawn congressional districts in New York City. The new maps, which were drawn by court-appointed Special Master Jonathan Cervas but are not yet final, change the 16th Congressional District to remove much of the Bronx, decreasing the Black voter population by about 17%. In response, Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) released this statement:

“The whole point of redistricting is to create congressional districts that keep communities of interest together. Unfortunately, the map created by the special master splits NY-16’s historically low-income Bronx communities into three congressional districts and decreases the Black voter population by 17%. This occurred despite an outpouring of testimony urging redistricting officials to protect the Black vote by keeping the northeast Bronx with lower Westchester together. The proposal shows that Co-Op City is mapped into NY-14, Williamsbridge and Baychester into NY-15 and Edenwald kept in NY-16. The map data shows that this directly resulted in the Black voter population declining by 17%. Co-Op City, Williamsbrige, and Edenwald are strong communities of interest that must remain together as a unity and connected to lower Westchester. The Black voting power in NY-16 cannot be diluted in favor of more compact but less fair maps.

“Edenwald in the Bronx is home to the third-largest public housing community in New York State and one of the largest in the country. The Edenwald community is a vulnerable community that is separated in this proposed map from the other densely populated majority Black communities like Co-Op City, Williamsbridge, and Baychester, whose voting power helps protect these communities’ specific needs around housing, public safety, and poverty alleviation. Similarly, Co-Op city is the largest naturally occurring retirement community in the country predominantly populated by lower-income and Black seniors. By splitting these communities, the map further alienates them and perpetuates the opportunity for further historical neglect by the electoral system. These are communities who have been kept together in maps for decades for good reason and with good intention. Their voting power is directly tied to their lives and they deserve a fair chance at electing representatives that take their unique needs into full consideration.

“Now, I only have one message for NY-16: I will continue fighting for you, and I will fight to continue to represent you. I also hope that voters continue to have their voices heard in every elected official that represents them as I intend to continue and advocate for their needs and the needs of every person in NY-16.”   

About Jamaal Bowman
Congressman Jamaal Bowman was an educator and advocate for public schools for over 20 years and previously served as principal for the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA), a public middle school he founded in 2009 in the Baychester neighborhood of The Bronx. Rep. Bowman is a life-long New Yorker who lives in Yonkers with his wife and children.

###

Like most states, New York has a limit (a “cap”) on the total number of charters permitted to open in New York State and in New York City. The state cap is 460 charters. The city cap is 242 (included in the state total). The charter lobby has urged an increase in the number allowed, because there is no room for growth. Recently, the State University of New York authorized a new charter high school in NYC, claiming that it was an expansion, not a new charter school. The city and state teachers’ union, along with parents, filed a lawsuit to require the State University of New York to follow state law.

From: UFT Press Office <press@uft.org>
Sent: Friday, March 4, 2022 3:09 PM
Subject: UFT, parents sue SUNY over charter school cap-busting scheme

For Immediate Release – Friday, March 4, 2022

Unions, parents sue SUNY over New York City charter school cap-busting scheme

NEW YORK March 4, 2022 — New York city and state teachers unions, joined by parents, have filed a lawsuit against SUNY and its Charter Schools Institute to block the creation of a new charter high school in New York City that would illegally pierce the state cap on new charters in the city.

The United Federation of Teachers, its state affiliate, New York State United Teachers, and parents allege that SUNY circumvented the clear statutory cap on new charters by authorizing a new Bronx high school, Vertex Partnership Academies, disguised as an expansion of existing charters through a new partnership, Ventoux Partnership Network. That partnership made between Brilla College Preparatory Charter Schools and Public Prep Charter School Academies would funnel students from both networks to the new high school, an agreement designed specifically to evade both the cap and statutory requirements for the creation of new charter schools.

The scheme not only was called out by the State Education Department and Board of Regents in July as clearly violating state law, the lawsuit states that SUNY itself is treating the high school as if it’s a new charter, requiring accountability measures that in SUNY’s own words are “normally reserved for new schools.”

What’s more, Ventoux founder Ian Rowe publicly touts in his biography for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute the creation of “a new network of character-based, International Baccalaureate public charter high schools to open in the Bronx.”

“Put simply, if it looks like a new charter, is held accountable like a new charter, and is structured like a separate and new charter, then it is indeed a new charter and not an expansion,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit can be read in full here: https://files.uft.org/nysutvny.pdf

“This is a clear end run around the charter cap. Once again, the charter sector is acting as if the rules don’t apply to them. We are here to say – you have to follow the law,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

“The SUNY Trustees and their Charter Schools Institute may think this scheme to create new charter schools is clever, but the law is still the law,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Those who view the charter cap in New York City as a suggestion instead of a statutory mandate are living in a fantasy land. We look to the courts to give them a reality check.”

“City schools already have struggled enough as these charters siphon resources away from our students,” said Ana Rivera, a plaintiff and mother of a Bronx 12th grader. “Enough is enough. We as parents won’t stand for charters that think they exploit the law and take more from our students.”