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.

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).
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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 »

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: http://bit.ly/TooHotToLearn 

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 »