New York

Charter school kids to City Council: term extension helps schools

I mentioned in a previous post that two charter school students from Harlem were among those testifying in favor of extending term limits at the City Council earlier this month. Their school head, Seth Andrew of Democracy Prep, sent me their testimonies, which he said they drafted on their own, on blank pieces of paper, by hand. Andrew said the students had the opportunity to testify either for or against extending term limits. Both came out in favor. (Not a surprise, since Andrew also said that his students testified at the invitation of James Merriman, the executive director of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence and a political ally of Mayor Bloomberg.) The testimonies are worth a read. Here's how seventh-grader Daniel Clarke Jr. explained the connection between term limits and education: Well, this chancellor has made a lot of progress in seven years, but he’s not done…YET. My school goes from grade 6 to 8 right now, but we are supposed to grow all the way to grade 12. Unfortunately, we can’t do this without a public school building, and this chancellor says he wants to give us one. He wants to close bad traditional schools and grow good ones like mine. If you pass this bill, my school will have a chance to take me all the way to college. If you don’t, the progress can’t continue and my school might not be able to grow. But I deserve a great high school, and there aren’t any others in my neighborhood like Democracy Prep that are open to all kids. Term limits prevent my family from having a choice, both in schools and in mayors and what we need are more choices, not fewer. This bill is not about Mayor Bloomberg or the City Council; it is about giving our community choice, voice, and progress for the kids of New York City. Thank you for Listening, I’m Daniel Clark Jr. The full testimonies are after the jump.
New York

Thompson hits Bloomberg on schools, citing "mismanagement"

Comptroller William Thompson Jr. with Randi Weingarten (via Flickr) Could we be seeing the start of a campaign theme? William Thompson Jr., the city's comptroller and a likely mayoral candidate, today attacked the Department of Education for transportation policies that he said are marred by "confusion and mismanagement." In a letter to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, he called on the department to launch an immediate review of its transportation policies. The attack was a response to a Daily News report that a 3-year-old autistic boy had been left alone on a school bus for more than six hours. But it might foreshadow a longer argument to come establishing Thompson's education credentials against Mayor Bloomberg. Thompson is certainly not the first person to criticize the Department of Education for "confusion and mismanagement," and one of the groups that often sounds that theme, the teachers union, is close to Thompson. The comptroller himself has privately directed similar complaints on the "mismanagement" theme toward non-transportation-related DOE policies. In transcripts of his private testimony to a commission on school governance that I obtained, Thompson complained that he has difficulty tracking the education department's spending. "If you look at the lack of financial and fiscal transparency at the Department of Education, it is astonishing," Mr. Thompson said. In short, if Thompson is looking for an education argument against another likely mayoral candidate, Mayor Bloomberg, he might have found one. The press release summarizing Thompson's complaints about the busing problem is after the jump.