our reporter in albany

Silver's bill likely to pass despite city lawmakers' concerns

ALBANY, NY — Legislators in the Assembly have roughly 24 hours to amend Silver’s mayoral control bill before it’s voted on, but at this stage, change is practically impossible.

Assemblyman Alan Maisel, one of five education committee members to vote against the bill, said those who oppose Silver’s plan were making no efforts to convert its supporters. “I’m not recruiting anybody,” Maisel said, adding that the bill would surely pass the Assembly tomorrow.

Half of the 10 lawmakers from New York City who sit on the Assembly education committee voted against Silver’s bill.

Joan Millman, who sponsored a bill that would enact the Commission on School Governance’s recommendations, said she voted voted no for three reasons. “The sunset is too long. I would have liked it to be a shorter period of time, so if we need to fix it, it’s easier to correct,” she said, adding that she “would have wanted the chancellor to be an educator,” and the Panel for Educational Policy members to have fixed terms.

The bill’s language about superintendents is what concerned Assemblyman Mark Weprin of Queens, who also voted no. Weprin said in an interview yesterday that he’s not convinced the bill would return superintendents to their old role as neighborhood fixtures who can address parents’ concerns. The 2002 law also mandated superintendents, he said, but the Bloomberg administration used policy to wipe them away in practice.

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” Weprin said. He also drafted a quick letter to Chancellor Joel Klein yesterday, asking how he plans to interpret the language on superintendents if it’s passed. He said he’d vote for Silver’s bill if Klein gives him a strong enough assurance that superintendents will have a strong role.

A spokesman for Klein said he had no comment, and Weprin had not received a reply from Klein as of yesterday.

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.”