New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos


Overcrowding in East Side public schools threatens to deny a generation of children their constitutional right to a "<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>sound basic education.</strong></a>" We must make more school seats available now, build more schools to keep up with current development, and investigate new solutions for building educational infrastructure.<br><br>I have a strong commitment to public education that stems from being a graduate of the&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>Bronx High School of Science</strong></a>, State University of New York's&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>University at Albany</strong></a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>University at Buffalo Law School</strong></a>. I helped create Community Board 8’s Youth and Education Committee, identified a&nbsp;<a href="; target="_BLANK"><strong>Free Yellow Bus Program</strong></a>&nbsp;for local youth service providers, and created an internship program to better serve the youth and education needs of our community. As your Council member I will continue to fight for increased funding for youth services and education.

Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio proposing $15.24 billion in potential savings and revenue in order to invest $827 million in spending on programs that support children, families, seniors, and our planet

Monday, June 15, 2020

As we face unprecedented times and a budget that must-see painful cuts, we should look for possible waste and opportunities for revenues and savings. I have proposed $15.24 billion in potential savings and revenue for our city’s budget in order to invest $827 million in spending on programs that support children, families, seniors, and our planet that will reduce costs and generate revenues. 

Bushwick Daily Op-Ed: Covid-19 Has Disrupted Students’ Education, but We Cannot Drop the Ball Further by Tai Abrams

Op-Ed: Covid-19 Has Disrupted Students’ Education, but We Cannot Drop the Ball Further

New York City’s students and educators are going through unprecedented times. In the course of only one week, 1.1 million public school students had to switch to a completely remote learning environment. Add in the unique challenges many underprivileged families face with lack of access to the Internet and technology, and we know many of our most vulnerable students are at risk of falling even further behind. 

But, amidst all of the hardship and challenges, we cannot take our eye off the prize for the sake of our students’ futures. As the founder of AdmissionSquad, a non-profit education organization that specializes in getting high-achieving middle schoolers into top NYC high schools, top colleges and exposed to leading careers, I’m worried about the anxiety my students are feeling. 

Fortunately, there is a bipartisan effort underway currently in the City Council to pursue action on stemming these long-term effects. I’m supporting legislation in the City Council that would require universal test prep for every kid. Council Members Ben Kallos and Robert Cornegy alongside Public Advocate Jumaane Williams introduced a bill that would finally mandate the DOE come up with a plan to make sure every public-school student has access to the tutoring they need for success. The bill also calls to remove other barriers, such as the longstanding practice of holding the SHSAT on the weekends, which privileges kids whose parents can transport them to the site. By providing the test on a weekday and mandating kids take it unless they opt-out, all students will have the opportunity. Now is the time to start thinking about how to bring systemic change that will increase access for all students through this crisis and beyond.

New York County Politics Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, Apr. 27, 2020 by Michael Rock

Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, Apr. 27, 2020

Kallos Blasts DOE’s iPad Investment

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

The city Department of Education’s investment into remote schooling included over $269 million in iPads for students, the New York Post reported Saturday.  Each of the 300,000 iPads and key services for them cost $897.

Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, East Harlem) criticized the investment, saying they could have spent less on laptops that had more utility for learning, and called it “a waste of money.”

“For what they spent on an iPad, they could have bought a full functioning laptop for every kid in the system,” Kallos said. “Instead, we got a bunch of iPads which don’t really create equity when families have laptops and broadband.”

New York Daily News How the coronavirus is exacerbating the education opportunity gap by Kirsten John Foy, Tai Abrams

How the coronavirus is exacerbating the education opportunity gap

As students, parents and teachers across New York City have had to adjust to remote learning as never before, there is a palpable sense of anxiety over whether students are being given the best opportunity for success under the current circumstances.

Particularly for low-income students and those who do not have access to technology or reliable wi-fi, remote learning can be a significant challenge. Given the historic inequities in our public school system and with likely school closures for the rest of the year sure to cause major academic disruptions, now is the time for the city to enact systemic changes to ensure disadvantaged students do not fall even further behind.

One area that requires specific attention is the city’s specialized high schools. These elite institutions can provide an answer to the setbacks many students face this academic year. But they also remain out of reach for many students of color.

We’ve heard the de Blasio administration say that the best long-term way to increase diversity in NYC’s specialized high schools is by entirely eliminating the entrance exam known as the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).

But students tutored by the Education Equity Campaign (EEC) during this admissions cycle proved that theory to be flawed. There is indeed another way to help students achieve educational success: comprehensive tutoring prep that focuses on raising skill level and increasing students’ confidence.

As two people of color who graduated from specialized high schools, we have dedicated our careers to social justice and education.

We believed the mayor’s original approach did little to actually help our children meet the standards for which they are capable. That’s why, alongside EEC founders Ronald S. Lauder and Richard Parsons, we embarked on a pilot program to offer free test prep to prepare disadvantaged students who otherwise would not have access to the extracurricular support necessary for success on the SHSAT.

The results speak for themselves.

This year, 12,422 Black and Latino students sat for the SHSAT. Of those, 470, or 3.8% were offered admission. In contrast, of the 197 students enrolled in EEC’s 7-week programs, 31 were accepted into a specialized high school. That’s 15.7%. Put another way. students of color in EEC programs were more than four times more likely to secure admission than their peers citywide.

And the EEC program only ran for seven weeks. If 31 students were able to achieve success after only a seven-week program, imagine the results if the city directed this support to more students of color.

Let’s be clear. Much more needs to be done. The demographic diversity of students offered acceptances this year is consistent with the dismal numbers of years past. It’s unacceptable that African American students made up only 4.5% of the total acceptances offered and Latino students received 6.6% of the acceptance pool for next year.

However, systemic problems require systemic solutions. That is why we are continuing our advocacy campaign by supporting a coalition of city and state lawmakers who are introducing legislation to bring programs like EEC’s to scale so that all students have access to the best educational opportunities.

For instance, state Sen. Leroy Comrie is sponsoring a bill that would create 10 new specialized high schools to remedy the fact that there are now only 15,000 spots available for 360,000 high school students. The bill would also establish a pipeline for success by expanding gifted and talented programs in communities so that students have access to quality education from the moment they enter the public-school system.

Complementing the state effort, we have also partnered with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and City Councilmen Ben Kallos and Robert Cornegy to require the Department of Education to come up with a plan to provide every middle school student with free test preparation and to automatically enroll students in the SHSAT.

Chalkbeat New York NYC nonprofits fear massive budget cuts to summer youth jobs program, serving 75K young people by Amy Zimemr

NYC nonprofits fear massive budget cuts to summer youth jobs program, serving 75K young people

But the city faces a potential $6 billion blow to its revenue this year as the coronavirus has forced businesses to close. The mayor has asked city agencies to find more than $1 billion in savings, and said this week he’ll have to make “tough, tough budget decisions” as the city works to finalize its own budget by June.

Freddi Goldstein, a spokesperson for the mayor, said there was “nothing to confirm right now” on potential cuts. A spokesperson with the Department of Youth and Community Development did not respond to requests for comment. But individuals who help run or support summer youth employment programs have heard big cuts are on the table. 

“Providers have every reason to be worried,” said Manhattan City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who proposed a universal summer program for the city in February. 

The preliminary summer youth budget tends to be cut every year before the budget “dance” of restoring funding. But trying to restore summer funding this year will be more challenging than usual, Kallos said. 

The need for these programs will be just as great, or perhaps greater, as it’s possible the city will continue to ask families to practice social distancing throughout the summer. 

“When school is out, ch

New York Daily News NYC lawmakers push to expand specialized high school exam to combat low black, Latino enrollment by By MICHAEL ELSEN-ROONEY

NYC lawmakers push to expand specialized high school exam to combat low black, Latino enrollment

A group of lawmakers wants all city eighth-graders to be automatically registered for the entrance exam for specialized high schools and get free after-school test prep in order to boost the enrollment of black and Latino students at the prestigious schools, the Daily News has learned.

A bill co-authored by City Council Members Ben Kallos (D—Manhattan) and Justin Brannan (D—Brooklyn), and supported by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, urges the Education Department to make the test opt-out rather than opt-in, and extend after-school test preparation to every eighth-grader planning to take the exam.

The proposal comes as city officials announced that only 11% of students admitted to specialized schools this year were black or Latino, compared to 70% of all city students — a figure virtually unchanged from years past.

City and State How remote learning will work in New York City by Annie McDonough

How remote learning will work in New York City

On Friday, Charter Communications announced that it would begin providing its Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi for free to families with students in grades K-12 or in college who don’t already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. Altice USA announced a similar program on Friday.

Kallos said that sending out iPads with T-Mobile LTE data plans would likely be quicker than having families sign up for broadband internet service, but it might not be the best long-term solution. “I appreciate wanting to get the service up and running using LTE,” he said. “But I think that they’re really doing families a disservice by not taking advantage of the Charter offer.”

Kallos said that the city should instead be focusing on access to broadband service and providing devices like Chromebooks, which tend to be cheaper than iPads and may be able to run more programs at the same time. Laptops and Chromebooks also come with keyboards, while keyboard attachments are typically sold separately for iPads. Many city schools do also use Chromebooks for regular instruction, and the Education Department will be providing guidance to schools on how to lend those out to students. “Everything is on the table to ensure our students continue to get the quality education they deserve, and we’re grateful to Apple and T-Mobile for their partnership, as both companies are offering significant discounts for their products and services,” city Education Department spokeswoman Isabelle Boundy wrote in an email. “We are open to working with additional partners to serve the children of New York City at this challenging time, and look forward to further conversations with Charter.”