annals of transparency

New York won't publish its Race to the Top application

New Yorkers who want to see details of the state’s Race to the Top plan that officials hope will win them a $700 million grant will have to wait for three more months.

Half of the states that submitted applications yesterday have posted their applications online, but New York State isn’t among them. That’s because the state plans to keep the application’s contents under wraps until the federal government announces the competition’s first round of winners and losers in April.

“If New York does not win a Phase 1 award, we will in all likelihood apply in Phase 2. Therefore, the release of New York’s application at this time could compromise the State’s ability to compete in the next round,” said Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the State Education Department.

But a U.S. Department of Education spokesman, Justin Hamilton, said the department plans to post all of the first-round applications in April, whether or not they’re successful. That’s two months before the competition’s second-round deadline in June.

And Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has said she thinks it is important for the public to understand that the plan, which she called “eloquent and articulate,” is about more than charter schools.

“I want to talk about what’s in this application,” she told me yesterday. “I want people to understand how broad it is.”

“I think [NYSED has] articulated a bold strong application, and when people in this state understand how good it is…they will be infuriated that this opportunity is slipping through their hands,” she added.

But without the complete application, New Yorkers will have to rely on education officials’ public statements on the application and an 18-page summary that the department has posted to its website. Notes from Regents meetings over the past several months also give clues to what may be included in the application but give no guarantee.

Here’s Dunn’s full statement:

The US Department of Education has said that it plans to post all state applications and final scores on its website at the conclusion of each phase of the Race to the Top competition. Because RTTT grants will be awarded in a two-phase process, a state that does not win a Phase 1 grant is entitled to reapply in Phase 2.  If New York does not win a Phase 1 award, we will in all likelihood apply in Phase 2. Therefore, the release of New York’s application at this time could compromise the State’s ability to compete in the next round.

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.”