Education Updates

Press Coverage
CNBC
Saturday, September 30, 2017

Free lunch for all from CNBC.

Giving out lunch based on this criterion has led to what some observers have branded as "lunch shaming." As a result, many kids chose to skip lunch to avoid bullying.

New York City Council member Ben Kallos knows that effect all too well. He grew up in the Upper East Side section of Manhattan, which is known to be very wealthy, and attended the Bronx High School of Science. However, he stood out among his classmates.

"Not only did I come from a single parent household, but a multi-generational household, which meant I was eligible for free or reduced lunch," Ben Kallos, NYC Council member told CNBC's "On the Money."

He added that every day his friends would go out and buy lunch instead of staying in the cafeteria. So he had to make a choice between friends and food.

"I would tell them I wasn't hungry, when the truth is, I was starving," Kallos said.

"Every single child will be treated the same. No one will have to worry if their family can afford it…and we'll actually be giving kids an even start to life," said Kallos.

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Press Coverage
AM New York
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dozens of young students learned a real-life civics lesson Tuesday, performing a skit in front of the City Council’s Committee on Health and advocating for a bill that would ban more pesticides from being used in city parks and public spaces.

The children, from PS 290 on the Upper East Side, got to see firsthand how grassroots legislation can come to be — the bill, Intro 0800, started in 2014 when they were learning about pesticides in school and were visited by a local City Council member.

“To me, this is the essence of education,” Paula Rogovin, a kindergarten teacher at PS 290, said. “This started with a study about tomatoes and watermelon in our school ... the only thing we can do is to get them to be proactive, to get them to do something about it.

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Press Coverage
NBC News 4 New York
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Children at one New York City school testified in City Council chambers against the use of pesticides in parks. Roseanne Colletti reports.

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Press Coverage
CBS New York
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It was first introduced in May 2015. Council Member Ben Kallos was one of its sponsors, and some of the children have been in the chambers advocating before.

“We protested a little bit,” Savann Basen said.

Kallos said his goal is to use only biological pesticides that come from natural materials instead of synthetic materials. He said what’s most concerning is the herbicide spray called Roundup.

“The World Health Organization found that it was a carcinogen, so we introduced legislation right away,” he said.

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Press Coverage
Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It’s really hard to get parents to come to community-board meetings,” he said in a phone interview. “Along with that comes a lack of diversity in the people I see involved in government and politics.”

There isn’t yet a cost estimate for the legislation, Mr. Kallos said. The measure would require the city to provide child care upon request through the Administration for Children’s Services, the child-welfare agency.

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Press Coverage
WNYC: New York Public Radio
Friday, September 8, 2017

New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced this week that the city's 1.1 million public school students will receive free lunch. This program comes as the city changed the way it reports its data to the Washington, making it eligible for the lunch expansion at no additional cost to taxpayers.

While individual families are set to save roughly $300 a year on school lunches, the issue touches on much more than cost. Incidents of "food shaming" have been reported at schools around the country, as students are often targeted on the lunch line for their family's inability to pay off their meal debt.

Could this new program serve as a model to districts around the country? New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents New Yorkers in the Upper West Side and Roosevelt Island, joins The Takeaway to discuss the importance of ensuring that every student receives lunch at school.

This segment is hosted by Todd Zwillich.

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Press Release
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Upper East Side, NY – 40 more 4-year-olds will have free pre-kindergarten seats on the Upper East Side starting with today’s first day of school. Council Member Ben Kallos joined Principal Doreen Esposito to cut the ribbon on the 40 new pre-kindergarten seats at P.S. 290, The Manhattan New School on 82nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. 

 

Watch the Ribbon Cutting.

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Press Coverage
New York Times
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Breakfast had already been free systemwide, school officials said, and the city’s stand-alone middle schools had a universal free-lunch pilot in place since 2014 that fed an additional 10,000 children who would not necessarily have qualified for free or discounted lunches, officials said.

Among the parade of speakers at Wednesday’s announcement was City Councilman Ben Kallos, who recounted his own experience with the stigma of subsidized school meals.

He grew up on the Upper East Side and, like many of his neighbors, attended Bronx High School of Science. But his mother’s income in his single-parent household was low enough that he qualified for reduced-price lunches — a fact he tried to hide from his peers by not eating.

“I had to choose between friends and food,” Mr. Kallos said. “I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did.”

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Press Coverage
Food and Wine
Friday, September 8, 2017

The New York City Council has been a vocal supporter of enacting the free lunch program; many members cited stories of students who would rather skip lunch than admit to their fellow students that they couldn’t afford to buy it, including Councilman Ben Kallos, who recounted his past struggles as a student at Bronx High School of Science.

“I had to choose between friends and food,” he said. “I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did.”

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Press Release
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

NEW YORK — Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate Letitia James today announced that lunch is now free for every student at every public school across New York City. Free School Lunch for All will provide over 200,000 more students with free lunch starting this school year. Last school year, 75% of students were eligible for free lunch and starting this school year, 100% of families will be eligible to receive free lunch.

New York City has sought all forms of funding for meal reimbursement and is now eligible to receive the highest reimbursement from the federal government through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). This federal program allows school districts to provide meals free of charge to all enrolled students. The Free School Lunch for All initiative will benefit all families regardless of where they live or attend school.

“There is now such thing as a free lunch in New York City public schools,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “When I was a child attending City public schools, I often went without food, because going hungry was better than getting picked on for receiving free or reduced school lunch. I've been fighting alongside Public Advocate Letitia James and Education Chair Danny Dromm at hearing after hearing for four years so that no child has to make the same unfortunate choice I did years ago, to go hungry. Our families should be able to trust that when they send their kids to public school, they won't come home hungry. Thank you to Speaker Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate James, Education Chair Dromm, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Community Food Advocates Executive Director Liz Accles for their advocacy, and Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for making universal school lunch a reality.”

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Press Coverage
United Press International UPI
Thursday, September 7, 2017

However, many schools still enact an array of measures to get students to pay for their lunch. In Alabama last year, a third-grader who couldn't pay a lunch bill was given a stamp on his arm that said, "I need lunch money," reported AL.com.

New York City councilman Ben Kallos said he remembers the stigma he felt as a child when he couldn't afford lunch.

"I had to choose between friends and food," Kallos said. "I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did."

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Press Coverage
New York Post
Monday, June 19, 2017

Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, a mayoral ally on education, countered that “charter schools shouldn’t be playing politics with children as pawns."

“Holding the public-school system hostage for charter-school expansion isn’t right,” said Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side. “Parents in my district aren’t asking for more charter school seats. They’re asking for more seats in traditional public schools.”

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Thursday, June 8, 2017

With their school’s support, Neil and his schoolmate Katerina Corr, who are leaders in the MSLC, testified in support of GSAs during the city’s Committee on Education on Oct. 19, 2016.

After that hearing, the MSLC met with Councilmen Danny Dromm, who is the chair of the council’s education committee, and Ben Kallos to work on the new legislation.

“The rise of hate crimes nationally and in the city means it is more important than ever that the City supports our LGBTQ youth through these student-run clubs,” Kallos said. New York City has always been a leader on LGBTQ issues and that includes supporting our students.”

Dromm said GSAs are vital to the physical and mental-well being of LGBTQ students.

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

They originally conceived of a requirement that every school set up a group to help gays but learned the Council doesn’t have the authority to mandate that. Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) introduced the legislation on their behalf Tuesday. “The rise of hate crimes nationally and in the city means it is more important than ever that the city supports our LGBTQ youth through these student-run clubs,” he said.

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The city has instituted universal free lunch for middle schools, but declined to expand it citywide.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) asked  Fariña to also issue rules that school staffers could not go after parents to collect unpaid lunch fees later, but she declined to do that without studying it first.

“Students are not deprived of eating lunch because of money,” she said.

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Press Coverage
Upper East Side Patch
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Improvements to two neighborhood schools won funding during this year's participatory budgeting cycle, City Councilman Ben Kallos announced Thursday.

Nearly 2,500 residents from the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island voted on how to allocate $1 million to improve the neighborhood.

The projects that won funding are:

  • 1,514 votes – P.S. 183 Green Science and STEM Lab Classroom - $600,000
  • 1,139 votes – P.S. 198/77 Playground Renovation - $500,000

The cost of both projects exceeded the $1 million allotment, but Kallos said his office will chip in $100,000 in capital funds to make sure both projects are fully funded. If the project you voted for didn't make the cut, all is not lost.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out a new initiative last week to offer universal pre-kindergarten to all New York City 3-year-olds, though kinks in the original program have yet to place all 4-year-olds in their preferred schools. Before the mayor’s announcement, Council Member Ben Kallos already had a rally planned for April 30 to demand additional seats for 4-year-olds within his district. “Pre-K for all must include the Upper East Side,” Kallos said at his event. “Three hundred 4-year-olds are being told that they have to take a commute down to the financial district.”

There has been progress on the Upper East Side, however. Since 2013, seats available for 4-year-olds enrolling in pre-K have increased fourfold, from about 150 to about 600. This school year, though, 900 4-year-olds applied to fill them. As of 2014, more than 2,700 children in that age group lived on the Upper East Side, some of whom choose private school. Numerous elected officials attended Kallos’ rally, including city Comptroller Scott Stringer and state Senator Liz Krueger, all of whom echoed Kallos’ call for de Blasio to keep his promise.

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Press Coverage
CBS New York
Sunday, April 30, 2017

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Officials and parents rallied Sunday on the Upper East Side, calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to open up more pre-kindergarten seats in neighborhood schools.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, Irina Goldman was planning on placing her 4-year-old into the City’s Pre-K program this upcoming school year. Living at 83rd Street and First Avenue, she was really looking for anything within a 20-minute walk.

But as many parents in the neighborhood are facing, her child was placed in a school six miles away in Lower Manhattan.

“When I found out, honestly, I cried, just out of frustration,” Goldman said.

Upper East Side parent Rob Bates was also hoping he could get his son, Michael, a pre-K seat a program somewhere – really anywhere – in the neighborhood. But Michael, 4, was assigned to a program in Union Square – at least a 30-minute subway ride away.

Bates said the trip was a huge burden for their family.

“The subways are very crowded, and it makes us nervous,” he said. “You know, you have a fragile little child. You don’t want to put him on a crowded subway like that, especially for that length of time.”

In all, more than 900 Upper East Side families with 4-year-olds applied for the Pre-K program. A third of them were given seats outside the neighborhood, creating a logistical nightmare for parents.

Goldman said her family has no clue now if they are going to send their child to pre-K at all.

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