Public Education

Effective public education, in elementary, middle and high school, is essential to preparing our children for success. The schools of the 39th Council District have some of the city's best teachers, principals and parent leaders, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they are supported in the crucial work that they do.

A Plan to Integrate Our Middle Schools

For the past five years, inspired by a growing coalition of advocates and students, I have been pushing the NYC Department of Education to take stronger action to confront school segregation -- both citywide, and right here in District 15. Read more »

Integrated Kindergarten & Pre-K options in our community

 

As you settle into the New Year and the bustle of life post-holidays, you may not be thinking about them right at this moment, but the PreK and Kindergarten application process are coming up fast. The Kindergarten application process is already underway (deadline is next Friday, January 12). And the Pre-Kindergarten application process opens on February 5th.

Most families in NYC go to their zoned school for kindergarten, but there several non-zoned options for Pre-K and K at schools that work to foster integrated student communities. We want to make sure that all families are aware of these options.

Bringing kids together across lines of race, class and language is one of the greatest promises of our public schools ... but one that is far from being fulfilled. That’s why I’ve been working for the past several years with advocates, educators and colleagues to fight school segregation (you can read more about that broader work here). This work is urgently necessary if we believe in equality, and research shows it also results in better education for all our kids. Read more »

Join the Student Demonstration for Integration this Saturday. You won’t find better inspiration for justice.

This time of year, as graduations approach, I always get a little teary-eyed about the power of public education (and this year will be worse than usual, with my kids graduating from middle-school and high-school).

Public education is the foundation of our democracy. We put our tax dollars to work -- the biggest share of our spending in NYC by far -- for the concept that all our kids are created equal, and should have equal opportunity to fulfill their potential. Read more »

The Brooklyn PTA 5K is on today, rain or ... drizzle!

We’re sorry about the weather this morning, but we are still running the Brooklyn PTA 5K Fun Run for Public Schools this morning at 10 AM. I’ll be there and I hope you will too! 

(There are events in Prospect Park every Saturday & Sunday throughout the spring, so it is very difficult to secure a “rain date.” And you wind up losing tons of people anyway. So the PTA 5K is a “rain or shine” event. We’ve been lucky to have good weather most years, and today, we’ll be running in the rain.)  Read more »

VICTORY! Mayor Announces Plan for Air Conditioning in ALL NYC Public School Classrooms.

Last October (on an 80-degree day) we launched the #TooHotToLearn campaign, to call attention to the dire need for air-conditioning in our public schools. Students, parents, and educators in hundreds of school submitted responses to our survey, with stories of classrooms that exceeded 100*F, of the inability to concentrate, of students with ashthma or special needs unable to attend, even of kids fainting from the heat.   Read more »

Our Schools Are Too Hot To Learn!

On too many days, in over 10,000 classrooms (about 25%), it is simply #TooHotToLearn. In those rooms, rising temperatures have made it unbearable on an increasing number of hot days in May, June, September, and October. Students and teachers report sweltering classrooms. Some have reached 100 degrees. In that heat, students experience headaches, dehydration, and are unable to focus. Students with asthma can’t even safely attend. 

How can we expect teachers to teach, or students to learn? Read more »

Too Hot To Learn!

Students, Teachers & City Council Members Rally for Air-Conditioning in All NYC Public School Classrooms

New #TooHotToLearn report reveals 10,000 classrooms without air-conditioning, as temperatures rise. But the NYC School Construction Authority reports zero A/C installations in progress. New coalition demands a five-year plan for A/C in all schools.     

CITY HALL - NYC public school students, teachers, administrators, and City Council Members across all five boroughs gathered on the steps of City Hall to rally for NYC air-conditioning in all NYC public school classrooms. The rally took place the afternoon prior to the Council’s budget hearing with the NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) and Department of Education (DOE).
Read more »

Rally for NYC School Air-Conditioning: Tues, 3/7 at 4 P.M.

In October, hundreds of student, teachers, and parents responded to a New York City Council survey about air-conditioning in your schools.

What you told us: in hundreds of NYC public schools, on too many days, it’s simply too hot to learn.

In response, we are launching the #TooHotToLearn campaign, to demand that the NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) & Department of Education (DOE) develop a plan & provide the necessary funding to get A/C in all of our classrooms & public spaces. Read more »

For our kids, and our democracy too: great & diverse Kindergarten & Pre-K choices

Few things matter more for our kids’ life-chances than getting a great start in their education. That’s why we’ve worked so hard in NYC to expand pre-Kindergarten, and to make sure families have strong public school options.

 And few things matter more for our democracy than bringing kids together, across lines of race & class, to learn, play, and work together. That’s why I’ve been working hard with advocates, educators, and colleagues to fight school segregation and promote more diverse schools. Read more »

Still and always, grateful

Some years, gratitude is closer to the surface. Some years, it takes a little more digging.

Four years ago, as Thanksgiving came, we were recovering from a natural disaster.

Hurricane Sandy had taken the lives of loved ones, and battered our city. There were 500 nursing home evacuees living on the drill floor of the Park Slope Armory. But we found – no, together, we made – a “paradise built in hell” (the title of a brilliant book by Rebecca Solnit, about the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster). With food, music, art, volunteers, bathroom-cleaning, doctors, donations, smart organizing, love, and a deep sense of purpose, we turned that Armory into a place (as described by evacuee Miriam Eisenstein-Drachler) of “courtesy, gentleness, and goodness beyond description.” Even if it could not hold back the hurricane, she said, “it makes one feel more secure and very, very grateful.”

Today, as Thanksgiving comes, we are trying to recover from a political disaster. While the lives lost and damage done by Hurricane Sandy cannot be directly compared, the experience of loss for many of us is still real. Not just that we lost an election, though that will have profound consequences. What feels especially painful to me today is the risk that we’ll lose a vision that we’ve been so proud to hold up for our kids – of a country called to its best self, rooted in compassion, embracing difference, with a real belief (even when we don’t make it real) that everyone deserves a more equal chance across all our lines.

That very dream, and the effort to make it real, provoked a sharp back-lash (a “white-lash”, as Van Jones rightly called it). At this moment, it seems easier to mobilize the darker, more closed, more resentful, sides of humanity – rather than the hopeful, open, embracing ones. I’m afraid, honestly, about what that means for being human.  

Still and always, gratitude is a critical part of the way forward. Not as a way of “feeling better” (although gratitude turns out to be good for your health). And not only because bitterness can consume us (although John Lewis reminds us that hearts full of love will do a lot better to sustain us for a long-term struggle). But also because gratitude for what we do together, for what we can’t do alone, for the ways we need each other, is at the heart of creating an inclusive community. “Organized compassion” is not only how we fight but what we are fighting for.

So, in that spirit, here’s some of what I am so deeply grateful for, still and always: Read more »