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And the winner is
February 26, 2019
Jumaane Williams won the special election for NYC public advocate. Here’s where he stands on education issues.
If Williams pursues an education issue, he’ll likely focus on school funding or will push for more diverse schools and faculty.
Asking the candidates
February 20, 2019
2 questions for 17 candidates: The education voter’s guide to New York City’s 2019 public advocate race
We asked each candidate two questions: What do you think is the biggest education issue facing the city, and what out-of-school factors that impact classrooms would you address?
February 7, 2019
Debate over SHSAT divides candidates for public advocate during NY1 debate
The mayor’s plan to eliminate the single exam used to determine admissions at the city’s specialized high schools divided candidates for public advocate during a…
getting the facts
September 8, 2016
Public advocate calls for increased transparency on school bullying, sexual harassment
James revealed a three-point campaign, including a vow to introduce legislation that would require the Department of Education to publicize more information.
August 16, 2013
City watchdog hopefuls debate schools in a post-Bloomberg era
The next mayor's handling of the city's schools could have an extra target on its back next year. The Department of Education is the government agency that contenders for the city's next chief watchdog say they'd most like to scrutinize if elected public advocate. Participating in a televised debate last night, three of five candidates said education would be their top priority, offering up lofty goals as a way to improve the $25 billion, 1.1 million-student school system. Their goals for fixing the public schools varied and often seemed ambitious for the authority and capacity limitations that comes with the public advocate's office. The office can introduce city legislation and is sometimes represented on commissions, but its budget is less than $2.3 million and most of its influence comes from the bully pulpit. But the candidates' talking points on education during the debate suggested how they'd seek to use that bully pulpit.
January 30, 2012
Report: Systemic flaws in CTE could jeopardize expansion plans
Before enacting ambitious plans to expand Career and Technical Education offering in schools, the city should invest more in the struggling programs that already exist, a report by the public advocate Bill de Blasio's office argues. The report, released today, paints a grim picture of CTE in city schools as chronically underperforming and often unaligned to industries that are expanding, such as the health sciences and information technology. The report was fast-tracked after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to open 12 CTE schools by the end of his tenure earlier this month, de Blasio said. The mayor convened a commission in 2008 to examine and improve CTE schools, but de Blasio said the task force's recommendations have been largely ignored. He said he wanted to see the city invest more in systemic improvements and struggling schools, rather than impose a "one-size-fits-all" plan to shutter low-performing CTE schools. "Maxwell High School has made steady progress, gotten an A rating under the department's own rating system, and now they're saying they're going to close it. Makes no sense," de Blasio said. "Closure ... does not guarantee that what comes next is going to be better. We should try to see if we can save the schools we have with a real intervention." The report finds:
August 25, 2009
Public advocate hopeful de Blasio releases full education plan
Bill de Blasio. Photo by William Alatriste (via ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/nyccouncil/3352047030/##Flickr##) To whet your appetite for our soon-to-come slew of candidate questionnaires, here's an education manifesto that public advocate contender Bill de Blasio is releasing today. According to de Blasio's press secretary, Gwen Rocco, the policy plan is based on the campaign's research about "what the public advocate can actually do." If elected, de Blasio will hold monthly education hearings in each borough, make even more school data available online, and convene a "Commission on the Future of Education." He also says he'll post graduation rates that note how many students used "credit recovery" programs to earn their diplomas. The 11-page plan is after the jump:
July 31, 2009
Public advocate candidates sound off on mayoral control
Earlier this week, the New York Civil Liberties Union held a debate among the candidates for public advocate, moderated by Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News. Gonzalez quizzed the five candidates about mayoral control — the following are their responses (video courtesy of the NYCLU). Next Tuesday the organization is co-hosting a debate for the mayoral candidates. Bill de Blasio said the issue is "very personal" for him, citing his children, who attend public schools, and his service on a school board. "I think we need profound reform of mayoral control," he said, but did not go into specifics. "I'm offended at any effort to reduce the democratic participation of parents in our school system. I believe there's a way to do mayoral control right. I think there are virtues in the system if there is transparency, if there are clear checks and balances, if there is a forum for actual debate, if there is a role for communities and for local residents and for parents."
May 8, 2009
Betsy Gotbaum warns Arne Duncan not to believe all about NYC
This piece of news slipped through the cracks last month, but it seems newly relevant in light of Mayor Bloomberg's visit to the Oval Office yesterday: In the wake of gushing visits by Arne Duncan, Obama's new education secretary, to New York City schools, Betsy Gotbaum, the city's public advocate, sent Duncan a cautionary note last month. "While we both agree generally that the Mayor should retain control of the school system, I would caution against focusing too much on the data provided by the Department of Education," Gotbaum wrote to Duncan in a letter dated April 27. "I have always said that it is a fundamental flaw that the current system gives the Mayor and the Chancellor an incentive to present information in a positive light." Gotbaum, who first reported the letter on her blog, enclosed a copy of the report on school governance that she commissioned and the accompanying book, which was published by the Brookings Institution. For what it's worth, a slightly curious thing about the visit to D.C. yesterday is that only three men entered the Oval Office with President Obama: the Rev. Al Sharpton; Newt Gingrich, the former House majority leader, and Michael Bloomberg. Joel Klein, who is a co-creator of the Education Equality Project with Sharpton, appeared later with the men outside the White House to speak to reporters, but he did not enter the Oval Office. Gotbaum's full letter is after the jump:
March 26, 2009
Public advocate hopeful takes aim at DOE's spending on testing
A figure from Bill De Blasio's report showing how many teachers' salaries could be supported by each assessment expenditure. The Department of Education could foot the salaries of more than a thousand teachers with the money it spends measuring and promoting student performance, according to a report released today by City Council member Bill De Blasio. By reducing spending on developing, administering, and grading tests, and by cutting the department's media relations office, the DOE could save more than $57 million a year, De Blasio's office found. That would be enough to support the salaries of 1,038 teachers who earn an average of $50,000 a year. At today's City Council hearing about the DOE's budget, De Blasio, who is running for public advocate, told Schools Chancellor Joel Klein that he is "perplexed by the notion that assessment is somehow more valuable than front-line" school staff. The department's preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes potential teacher layoffs, but it does not call for substantial cuts to the DOE's accountability office. Klein defended spending on assessment even when budgets are tight, saying that teachers cannot do their jobs without good student performance data.
February 13, 2009
After abuse, a call for school bus drivers to get new training
All school bus drivers would have to be re-trained immediately and citizens could call in concerns about individual drivers to a city hotline, if the city followed a list of demands Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum issued yesterday. The demands come on the heels of reports of school bus abuse, including a 7-year-old stranded on a bus in Queens this month, a four-year-old Brooklyn child stranded on a school bus last month, and a severely disabled 22-year-old left on a freezing school bus overnight January 1. Asked whether the city will follow Gotbaum's demands, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, Marge Feinberg, said, "We have an effective policy in place that suspends bus personnel for half a year for the first infraction and decertifies them if it happens again." According to the policy, drivers who leave children alone on a bus have their licenses suspended for 180 days. The licenses are revoked if they commit an error a second time. School officials also pointed out that two of the three most recent cases of abuse happened on private buses, not school buses run by the DOE. (The 4-year-old in Brooklyn was riding a DOE school bus.) In a press release, Gotbaum points out that while cosmetologists in the city have to register 1,000 hours of training, school bus drivers are required to put in just 10 hours of training and two three-hour refresher courses a year. She also cites a 2007 Daily News investigation that found that the Department of Education hid 225 cases of bus abuse, including one case where a bus driver beat a student with special needs. (Since then, the Department of Education has taken steps to prevent hidden abuse in the future, hiring a new chief manager of the investigative unit and a slew of experienced investigators, Feinberg said.) Gotbaum's full list of demands is below the jump.
February 11, 2009
New public advocate contender used to battle the school board
Betsy Gotbaum, the current public advocate, has routinely directed her scrutiny toward the Department of Education. This week, the city’s first public advocate, Mark Green,…
January 29, 2009
Distinguishing a mayor from his control takes "mental jiu jitsu"
Unfortunately, I’m not able to be in Queens today for the first State Assembly education committee hearing on mayoral control, the official opening event…
November 13, 2008
Accountability costs are either $100m or $300m, report says
By the end of this school year, the Department of Education will have spent more than $300 million on its accountability initiative, according to a report released today by the city's Independent Budget Office. The DOE disputes the IBO's figure, saying the report includes more initiatives than are actually part of the accountability project. It says the true figure is more like $100 million. The city's public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, commissioned the report, which is bound to intensify debate about whether accountability measures should be cut during the coming budget crunch.
October 28, 2008
Every high school student needs sex ed, Betsy Gotbaum says
The city’s public advocate, who today announced via a New York Times article that she will not seek reelection, despite the term limit…
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