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.

City Council to NYC Department of Education: “It’s October, and it’s still #TooHotToLearn!”

New DOE/SCA Report Fails to Provide Useful Information or a Plan to Get Air Conditioners in Schools as Temperatures Continue to Rise

Council Members Turn to Parents, Students, and Teachers to Crowdsource Data on A/Cs in Schools: 

City Hall, N.Y. – As temperatures are projected to reach 82 degrees in New York City today, City Council Members Brad Lander, Margaret Chin, Daniel Dromm, and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland criticized a new report from the NYC Department of Education and School Construction Authority on air conditioning in schools for failing to provide useful data, and for the lack of planning to install A/Cs in NYC public schools where it is too hot to learn.

The report (attachment available for download here) was required by the City Council as a term and condition in the FY 16-17 budget, passed in June. At the time, the DOE and SCA expressed a willingness to work with the Council on a plan to install air conditioning in schools that need it. The first step was to identify and prioritize the schools most in need.

Unfortunately, the report fails to provide critical information. It identifies 17% of schools with full air-conditioning, and 5% of schools (90 schools) that lack A/C entirely. However, 78% of schools (1,590) are simply identified as “Partial A/C” -- which means only that they have at least 1 A/C unit in the building -- without any information about how many classrooms, auditoriums, gyms, or cafeterias remain to be covered. Meanwhile, just 4 schools are currently having A/Cs installed. Read more »

First Day of School, 2016

It’s a big first-day-of-school in our office!

Our chief-of-staff Rachel Goodman’s son Max is starting his first day of Pre-K.

Our education liaison Vicki Sell’s daughter is starting middle school.

My daughter Rosa is starting 8th grade, and my son Marek is starting his senior year in high school.

Pretty emotional, all around. So you can be sure my team and I have both a deep appreciation for the New York City public school system – and many of the same same anxieties that all parents feel. Read more »

Construction Begins on Park Slope Library Reading Circle and Storytelling Garden

Council Member Brad Lander, Friends of Park Slope Library, Community Members Celebrate External Improvements, New Public Amenities Funded Through PBNYC

Brooklyn, NY—Construction is underway on the new Park Slope Library Reading Circle and Storytelling Garden, Brooklyn Public Library announced today.

The project includes a storytelling amphitheater, community gardening space, paths and planters, a water fountain and more at the historic Carnegie branch. Pending approval by the city’s Public Design Commission and Landmarks Preservation Commission, the garden will also be home to a statue of beloved children’s book character Knuffle Bunny, the creation of author Mo Willems. The statue will be funded by the Friends of Park Slope Library. Read more »

Some new candidates on the (PBNYC) ballot!

PBNYC Vote Week is underway – and there are some new candidates on the ballot!

For the first time ever, we’ll be offering a brand new voting opportunity. In addition to voting on how to spend $1.5 million on the “capital projects ballot” (with 13 great projects like those from prior years), you’ll also get to vote on how to spend $50,000 on our brand new “program ballot.” 

Every year, during the PBNYC brainstorming phase, we hear many great ideas that don’t meet the criteria for “city capital” funding, which has to be for “bricks-and-mortar” projects.

So this year, we are offering an entire second ballot of projects that qualify for city “programmatic” funding that lets us really take advantage of all the creativity we see in PBNYC.  I’m proud to say we are the only district in NYC piloting this new opportunity. Read more »

PBNYC 2016 Ballot is here: What will you choose?

You’re going to get a lot of chances to vote this year – the Presidential primary in April, the State legislative primary in September, and the General Election in November.

But only one ballot contains 13 fantastic local projects to improve our schools, parks, libraries, streets and transit: the PBNYC 2016 ballot for our district is here, and its time to get ready to vote on how you want to spend $1.5 million. Read more »

Statement of NYC Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres on the First NYC “School Diversity Accountability Act” Annual Report

New York City Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres, co-sponsors of the “School Diversity Accountability Act” (Local Law 59 of 2015 and City Council Resolution 453 of 2015), issued the following statement after the release of the first annual report by the NYC Department of Education:

Confronting segregation and advancing diversity in NYC’s public schools is an urgent moral, practical, and policy imperative. It will not be achieved quickly, but that cannot be an excuse for inaction.

Our goal in legislating the ‘School Diversity Accountability Act’ was to create an annual report to measure how we are doing, see what steps we are taking, and begin to measure progress — or lack thereof — each year. Read more »

New York Times Op-Ed: "What Would It Take to Integrate Our Schools?"

Orignially published in the New York Times, December 15, 2015

By Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres 

Even though we may believe that “separate but equal” public schools are inherently unequal, we haven’t been prepared to do much about it. In recent years, we’ve rarely even talked about it.

But over the past year, as the nation’s attention has turned to issues of racial justice, we’ve at least resumed the conversation. Powerful episodes of public radio’s “This American Life” (“This Problem We All Live With”) called attention to an attempt at integration in St. Louis, featuring the high school Michael Brown attended, and to a much more successful effort in Hartford.

An eye-opening study by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, woke us up to the finding that New York City schools are among the most segregated in the country — and more segregated than they were a decade ago. This fall, rezoning proposals in Brooklyn and on the Upper West Side raised hard questions about race, class, segregation and gentrification.

Read more »

Gratitude, 2015

There’s a lot to be anxious about these days.

Terrorism around the world punctures our sense of security, and prompts xenophobic backlash against our neighbors and those seeking protection from this very sort of terror.

Climate change threatens the world we will hand our kids.

Growing inequality makes it harder for people just to get by.

We struggle across racial divides, as we see video of yet another young African-American man killed needlessly in an encounter with police, and violence comes to those protesting peacefully to change an unfair system.

And at times, the changes in our communities – new development, skyrocketing rents, rising homelessness – make us feel we are losing our neighborhoods.

So I’m glad that Thanksgiving is here, to remind us of all we have to be grateful for. Read more »

NYC to Build New 180-Student Pre-K Center on Border of Park Slope and Gowanus

For Immediate Release:

NYC to Build New 180-Student Pre-K Center on Border of Park Slope and Gowanus

School Construction Authority Advances Plans for New Pre-K Center on 9th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues

Proposed Facility Builds on Ongoing Effort by City and Elected Officials to Advance “Pre-K for All” and Address School Overcrowding in District 15

Brooklyn, NY – The NYC School Construction Authority has proposed constructing a new Pre-K center near the border of Park Slope and Gowanus, Council Member Brad Lander announced today. The proposed school, which would seat approximately 180 four year-olds, is planned for the vacant lot next to an American Legion post on 9th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues. The SCA is beginning the public review process, and will accept public comments on the site until December 13th.

Read more »

Join My Daughter to Support Global Education for Girls

I don't usually e-mail about personal things, but this one is different.

My daughter Rosa and her friends have been inspired by Malala Yousafzai's courageous stand for girls' education all around the world. They feel lucky to have great schools here in Brooklyn, and can't believe that over 60 million girls around the world don't have the chance to go to school. So a few years ago, they started organizing the "Girls Read for Girls" Read-a-thon.   

The read-a-thon raises money for The Malala Fund and the money raised will help empower girls through education, raise awareness of gender equity issues, and inspire young people to make change in their communities. Read more »