petitioning chancellor klein

Queens City Council members petition Klein to save schools

City Councilman David Weprin (right) signs a petition urging the DOE not to close 20 city schools. Councilman Eric Ulrich (left) plans to deliver the petition to Chancellor Joel Klein's office this afternoon.
City Councilman David Weprin (right) signs a petition urging the DOE not to close 20 city schools. Councilman Eric Ulrich (left) plans to deliver the petition to Chancellor Joel Klein's office this afternoon.

Members of the Queens City Council delegation called on Chancellor Joel Klein to abandon plans to close 20 city schools today.

Standing on the steps of Tweed Courthouse and joined by colleagues representing other boroughs, Queens Council members accused the Department of Education of threatening to close schools without first trying to improve them or seeking community input.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents Rockaway Beach, said the DOE did not notify his office before announcing its proposal to close Beach Channel High School.

Ulrich is circulating a petition signed by nearly all of the Queens Council members calling on the DOE to abandon its plans to close the borough’s schools.

Ulrich said he intended to deliver the petition to Chancellor Joel Klein’s office this afternoon. (He jokingly said he might nail it to the doors of Tweed.)

Many of the 11 Council members and members-elect who attended the news meeting called for discussions with parents, community leaders, and the teachers union about how to improve struggling schools before resorting to closure.

“The Chancellor is turning his back on these students and these schools,” Queens Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “That is unacceptable.”

Three of the 20 schools the DOE has marked for closure this year are in Queens and two of the three — Jamaica and Beach Channel — are large high schools. Critics of the DOE’s plans to shutter the schools worry that the closures would displace students from eastern Queens, crowding them into already crowded schools such as Francis Lewis High School.

City Council members petitioned Chancellor Joel Klein to abandon plans to close 20 citys schools.
City Council members petitioned Chancellor Joel Klein to abandon plans to close 20 city schools.

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.”