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.

Self-government's appeal

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
10/03/2012

So who knows our neighborhood needs better than we do? A rhetorical question, of course, but one that gets at the heart of a City Council initiative called Participatory Budgeting.

In 2011-2012, Brad Lander was one of four NYC Councilmembers leading their districts in a program first hatched in Brazil and launched in this country in Chicago. The success of the actions taken in NYC’s four forward-thinking districts led to the program’s doubling—eight councilmembers, representing over one million New Yorkers, have dedicated a total of at least $10 million in NYC discretionary capital funds for the 2012-2013 program. It is we, the constituents, who decide how the money is spent. Read more »

Participatory Budgeting is Back

One year ago, we started an experiment: to give New Yorkers the power to decide how to spend $1 million of their tax dollars on projects in the neighborhood.

That experiment, Participatory Budgeting, was a huge success. Over 3,000 people participated, we received nearly a thousand ideas for projects in the community, and our small voting sites were overwhelmed with eager residents wanting to be part of what the New York Times called “revolutionary civics in action.” The seven projects with the most votes – projects for local schools, libraries, parks, and streets – received City funding and are moving forward.

Now we are starting again, with another $1 million and your great ideas. Read more »

Back to (Our) Schools

This morning, over 1 million kids (including my two) head back to New York City’s public schools.

Despite the often-contentious rhetoric surrounding education policy these days, our public schools for me remain the shining hope of American democracy: that we all work together – through government, with our tax dollars – to invest heavily in the idea that every single kid deserves an equal opportunity to learn and grow, that diversity is a core strength, that we help individuals achieve their potential through collective action, and that knowledge, ideas, and the search for truth matter. Those are not the values of the marketplace (though good education is certainly essential to a thriving economy); they are the values of democracy. Read more »

A city budget we can be proud of

The City Council and Mayor Bloomberg reached an agreement this week on New York City’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget – one that invests in our kids and preserves funding for vital public services.

The City’s $68.7 billion budget is a statement of our priorities, and I am proud that those priorities reflect a deep belief in education (public schools continue to be the largest item by far), in core public services and infrastructure that make sure we have safe and vibrant communities, and in a strong safety net for those who need it (young, old, and in-between).

I’m also excited that, for the first time, the City’s budget includes items that you selected, through participatory budgeting. The seven items – totaling $1 million – that more than 2,200 of you voted for in March are being officially adopted as part of the City’s capital budget this week … and we’re launching a new webpage to keep you posted on their progress. Read more »

Salmon BLT? PS 230 students made it delicious

Brooklyn Daily
06/26/2012

The foodie craze has finally infiltrated the most reluctant of groups: teenagers.

Kensington elementary school PS 230 was transformed into an epicurean battleground on Saturday, as teams of teenagers duked it out in a chef battle, cooking things that had even the seasoned chefs in attendance blinking their eyes.

“I was a little concerned when they told me they wanted to make salmon sandwiches with turkey bacon and truffle oil,” said chef and organizer Veronica Guzman of the winning dish. “But the way that they cooked it I was like, ‘Oh my god, it’s really good!’ ” Read more »

Even more tests?

After many of our kids spent too many hours, days, and weeks of this school year prepping for and taking high-stakes tests (and then having their teachers out-of-class to grade them), this week they are being asked to sacrifice even more class time this month to state tests.

Pearson Publishing, a for-profit corporation with a $32 million contract from New York State will be giving students additional testing with “field questions,” to help develop next year’s tests. The tests won’t impact students, teachers, or schools’ records – but they will take even more class time. Read more »

Running (and organizing) for our schools

What a blast! Last Sunday, hundreds of kids, parents, and teachers from more tha

What a blast! Last Sunday, hundreds of kids, parents, and teachers from more than three dozen schools came out for the Fifth Annual Brooklyn PTA 5k Run for Schools. Donations are still coming in, but we already know that the race raised more than $10,000 for the first time! Read more »

Response to Mayor's Budget

Mayor Bloomberg’s FY13 Executive Budget:
Some Good News for Our Classrooms, Bad News for Just About Everything Else

City Councilmember Brad Lander had the following statement in response to Mayor Bloomberg’s Executive Budget:

"Mayor Bloomberg presented his FY2013 Executive Budget proposal this morning. There was some good news for our public schools, but bad news for just about everything else.

"For the first time in five years, there will not be cuts to our teaching force through attrition. Earlier this spring, my office released a report highlighting the painful impact of the loss of teachers in recent years: the number of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders in general education classrooms of 30 or more students has grown tenfold during this period (and overall class sizes are up significantly). The Mayor’s Preliminary Budget in February proposed to continue teacher attrition, projecting a loss of 2,570 teachers, which would have resulted in thousands more young kids in very large classes. I am pleased that the Mayor and the Department of Education recognized this problem, and took these cuts to our classrooms off the table. It will make a real difference in our schools.

"Unfortunately, the Mayor’s Executive Budget continues to propose devastating cuts to child care and after school programs, to our public libraries, to 20 fire companies, to senior services, and to shelter beds for runaway homeless youth. The cuts to child care and after-school are particular unacceptable: 47,000 kids will no longer have somewhere safe to go after school, on top of more than 40,000 childcare slots that have been lost in recent years (more than 60% of the slots that existed in 2009). Read more »

Put safety first at PS 29

Councilmember Brad Lander's letter to the NYC School Construction Authority regarding asbestos abatement work planned while school is in session.


Ms. Lorraine Grillo
President and Chief Executive Officer
New York City School Construction Authority
3030 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101

Dear President Grillo:

I am writing to strongly urge the School Construction Authority to suspend asbestos abatement work (and other work affecting air quality) at P.S. 29 in Brooklyn until the 2011-2012 school year is over. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and the lack of clarity, transparency, and discussion about asbestos abatement at P.S. 29 is of great concern. Read more »