our reporter in albany (updated)

Silver's bill clears its last hurdle before tomorrow's Assembly vote

ALBANY, NY — One branch of the state government is functioning today. Lawmakers in the Assembly pushed Silver’s mayoral control bill through the ways and means committee this afternoon, readying the bill for a final vote tomorrow.

The bill immediately passed with no discussion. At least three Assembly members voted against Silver’s plan, including Mark Weprin and Jeff Aubry of Queens and Deborah Glick of Manhattan.

Aubry said he was concerned that the bill did not place fixed terms on members of the citywide school board and that it gives the mayor a majority of the appointees to the Panel for Educational Policy. Both he and Glick are supporters of the “Better Schools Act.”

Tomorrow, the Assembly will vote on the bill, and even its most vocal critics agree that its passage is guaranteed.

UPDATE 2 (from Elizabeth): Billy Easton of the Campaign for Better Schools points out that nothing is final, even if the Assembly bill passes. “Tomorrow is an Assembly vote on their initial proposal,” he said. “That does not mean that that’s the final vote that they will take on this matter. We have to see what unfolds.” Easton added that lobbyists for the campaign are meeting with members from both the Assembly and the Senate.

Exactly how negotiations between the two houses will unfold, however, is almost impossible to figure out. Anna reports from Albany that she only persuaded one senator to talk to her about mayoral control today — and his response was to say, “It can’t stay the way it is,” and walk away laughing.

UPDATE (from Elizabeth in New York): Critics of the bill are fighting it vigorously. Ann Kjellberg is sending around to members of the Parent Commission on School Governance is sending out an urgent e-mail asking supporters to call elected officials immediately. The main asks: fixed terms for school board members, a two-year rather than six-year sunset, and a provision that would force the Department of Education to be subject to both city and state law.

The full e-mail:

Just back from Albany, where the situation is dismal.

Our politicians, even as they nod seriously when we describe the DOE’s failures of management and process, are about to vote on laws that preserve the mayor’s absolute control and completely marginalize parents, educators, and the public.

The City Council, though they have told us they will negotiate on behalf of constituent demands, is on the brink of voting for an education capital plan without appearing to have won a single concession from the DOE.


1) City Council: Parents demand a capital plan that addresses the city’s real overcrowding needs, present and future, instead of simply covering them up and waiting for the next crisis.  We will cast votes on this issue. You have shown a lack of leadership.

For Council phone numbers click here <http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml> .

2) Assembly and Senate: Parents demand a governance law with real checks and balances.  We demand the following (customize if you like):

– fixed terms for School Board (PEP) members;

– a minority of mayoral appointees on the School Board (PEP);

– a DOE subject to city and state law;

– enforcement of legal powers of local school boards (CECs) and districts, including CEC powers over zoning, school placement, and school closure;

– a sunset of two years.

You might also like to endorse the Parent Commission proposals recommended here <http://www.parentcommission.org/> .

For Assembly phone numbers click here <http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/> .  For Senate phone numbers click here <http://www.nysenate.gov/senators> .

The time is NOW!  Our politicians are selling away our school system!

Please spread the word!

For info on how to send an email or a fax from your computer see pspac.wetpaint.com or write to me.

on the run

‘Sex and the City’ star and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon launches bid for N.Y. governor

Cynthia Nixon on Monday announced her long-anticipated run for New York governor.

Actress and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon announced Monday that she’s running for governor of New York, ending months of speculation and launching a campaign that will likely spotlight education.

Nixon, who starred as Miranda in the TV series “Sex and the City,” will face New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.

Nixon has been active in New York education circles for more than a decade. She served as a  longtime spokeswoman for the Alliance for Quality Education, a union-backed advocacy organization. Though Nixon will step down from that role, according to a campaign spokeswoman, education promises to be a centerpiece of her campaign.

In a campaign kickoff video posted to Twitter, Nixon calls herself “a proud public school graduate, and a prouder public school parent.” Nixon has three children.

“I was given chances I just don’t see for most of New York’s kids today,” she says.

Nixon’s advocacy began when her oldest child started school, which was around the same time the recession wreaked havoc on education budgets. She has slammed Gov. Cuomo for his spending on education during his two terms in office, and she has campaigned for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In 2008, she stepped into an emotional fight on the Upper West Side over a plan to deal with overcrowding and segregation that would have impacted her daughter’s school. In a video of brief remarks during a public meeting where the plan was discussed, Nixon is shouted down as she claims the proposal would lead to a “de facto segregated” school building.

Nixon faces steep competition in her first run for office. She is up against an incumbent governor who has amassed a $30 million war chest, according to the New York Times. If elected, she would be the first woman and the first openly gay governor in the state.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”