New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Education

Overcrowding in East Side public schools threatens to deny a generation of children their constitutional right to a "<a href="http://www.cfequity.org/&quot; 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="http://www.bxscience.edu/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>Bronx High School of Science</strong></a>, State University of New York's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.albany.edu/&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>University at Albany</strong></a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://law.buffalo.edu/&quot; 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="http://kallosforcouncil.com/sites/default/files/DYCD_Bus.pdf&quot; 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.

New York Post NYC parents say de Blasio’s free child care program is a mess by Melissa Klein

NYC parents say de Blasio’s free child care program is a mess

In-person learning is now supposed to start Sept. 29 for those in kindergarten through fifth grade and to Oct. 1 for older students after de Blasio made an 11th-hour decision to delay the opening.

Councilmen Ben Kallos, who joined Councilman Brad Lander in July saying the program fell far short of the number of slots needed, said the city had done a poor job of explaining exactly what Learning Bridges provided and how to apply.

“I would just say it’s a total mess,” Kallos said.

City Hall could not provide much in the way of answers including how many children had been offered slots.

NY1 Only 30K Childcare Seats Will Be Ready When Schools Reopen by Kathleen Culliton

Only 30K Childcare Seats Will Be Ready When Schools Reopen

The 100,000 free childcare seats the city promise New York public school parents won't become entirely available until December, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday. 

Only 30,000 Learning Bridges childcare slots will be available when schools reopen on Sept. 21 and only 70,000 in October, de Blasio said. 

"Starting something from scratch is a huge endeavor," de Blasio said. "The goal was 100,000 and we'll get to 100,000." 

De Blasio announced in July that the city would provide childcare options to help parents of blended learning students rejoin the workforce in the fall.

"So many parents have also said that they can't make it work if they don't get more childcare," de Blasio said in July. "The goal will be to start by serving 100,000 kids and giving those families, those parents that balance in their life, that relief, that support, but then we aim to go farther."

Council Members Brad Lander and Ben Kallos — who said in July need could be as high as 533,000 seats — both said they were disappointed Learning Bridges would reach less than a third of those initially projected. 

“It is a gigantic task to create a whole new program to serve tens of thousands of families, especially as the child care industry craters from lack of support, and I’m glad the administration has committed to doing so," Lander said. 

"But on the other hand, if you are a teacher who had to be at work today and had no child care options, it's too little too late."

Kallos, less reserved in his criticism, said he was extremely frustrated that City Hall never responsed to his repeated offers to help locate childcare facilities. 

"This is nowhere near enough," Kallos said. "I should be surprised, but I'm not.  I'm angry because all these families were counting on us. I don't know how we're going to open [schools] this month at this point.  

The Education Committee member also argued the lack of childcare would only worsen problems sure to arise from the DOE's complicated blended learning schedule. 

"Parents are forced to chose between having a job and taking care of their kids because, right now, you cannot do both," Kallos said. "Where are the parents, children and families supposed to be?"

On Tuesday, two days before classrooms were initially slated to reopen, Youth Services Deputy Commissioner Susan Haskell updated New Yorkers on the program, which will provide childcare and meals on remote learning days for students from preschool to grade eight.

Preschoolers' days will include play, social skills development and early learning while lower and middle school students will get remote learning support, art classes and exercise time. 

Parents who have expressed interest on the DOE website will be automatically enrolled and others can apply here.

"We want to assure parents," Haskell said. "Activities will be offered in a safe and welcoming environment."

During Tuesday's press conference, DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza also informed parents about 2,800 out of 64,550 public school classrooms were deemed too unsafe to reopen. 

"There are little things that need to be done," Carranza said. "But keeping our promise, we said everyone would have functioning ventilation." 

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Gothamist City Council Hears Plenty Of Skepticism On NYC School Reopening Plan by David Cruz

City Council Hears Plenty Of Skepticism On NYC School Reopening Plan

"My school is not ready to reopen, we do not have the proper ventilation system, our school population increases every year. And we're not prepared for this upcoming school year. And I think that every other school is not ready to do so either," said Diep. "This is coming from a student who did, in fact, struggle with online learning, and was able to be privileged to have the choice between remote learning and the hybrid learning system."

Because the emergency hearing was technically to consider a resolution declaring schools remain unsafe to reopen, it did not obligate the city officials, including de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, to appear and testify. As a result, Councilmember Ben Kallos mockingly marked them down as "absent."

"They're getting an 'F' in today's pop quiz," said Kallos. "And that's just putting it lightly."

Miranda Barbot, a DOE spokesperson, said in a statement, “The resolution was primarily to push back the first day of school, which we already announced earlier this week. We will testify later this month.“

New York Post How NYC could make remote learning into a winner for many kids by Editorial Board

How NYC could make remote learning into a winner for many kids

Remote learning has been a near-disaster for city school kids, but City Councilmen Ben Kallos and Robert Cornegy hope it can bring at least one plus.

The lawmakers want the city to expand its Gifted & Talented program online, letting more kids take advantage of the higher-speed, more intense instruction.

Limited funds and space have long left the city unable to offer G&T classes to all who can benefit. But online learning doesn’t require more classroom space, and may be cheaper per student than in-person teaching.

The Chief Local 372, Pols Hot Under Collar About School-Kitchen Infernos by RYSTAL LEWIS

Local 372, Pols Hot Under Collar About School-Kitchen Infernos

Working Up a Sweat

One school kitchen, at the Julia Richman Education Complex on the Upper East Side, recorded temperatures as high as 135 degrees during a recent heat wave, according to the union.

“Working in this heat is unhealthy. This is not an ask, this is a longtime need,” said Local 372 President Shaun Francois.

City Council Member Ben Kallos visited that school’s kitchen during a day when sandwiches were being prepared and no ovens were on—and still recorded a temperature that was 15 degrees hotter than it was outside. After he reported his findings to the DOE, an air-conditioning unit was installed in the kitchen.

“But that’s one school, and we have workers across the city who deserve the same recognition and respect,” said Local 372 Vice President Donald Nesbit. “This is not a new problem: when I started in the kitchens as a Cook in 1998, it [was] a problem then and every summer since.”

Several elected officials stated that convening a task force was the bare minimum and actually doing the work to install air- conditioning was what mattered.

Demand to Desegregate All Remote Learning Now, Letter to Mayor de Blasio and DOE Chancellor Carranza

Friday, August 7, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio
City Hall

New York, NY 10007

Chancellor Richard Carranza
Department of Education

52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Re: Demand to Desegregate All Remote Learning Now

Dear Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza,

With as many as one quarter of public school families opting for full remote learning in the fall, we have a historic opportunity and, we believe, a mandate to desegregate classes and achieve educational equality online. With the school year fast approaching, only incomplete plans for what digital classrooms will look like have been shared. We demand that you desegregate all remote learning for this school year.

New York City public schools are more segregated today than they were during Brown v. Board of Education, largely because our city’s neighborhoods are: the result of a long history of government-enforced racism and de jure segregation right here in New York City. Many students live in school zones dictated by geography that stems directly from racist redlining that continued rampantly and legally through the 1970s, and which continues to impact neighborhoods to this day, with investigations and even settlements here in New York State as recently as 2015. While desegregationist housing policy is an imperative, we cannot wait for or rely on it. We must find ways to bring communities together in our classrooms. Enrichment programs have been credited with providing access for black and brown students to our best schools, but early in this administration, racial segregation was found to persist in these programs, with gifted and talented programs missing from black and brown low-income communities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed systemic racial disparities in healthcare, as the virus has disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. As we transitioned to remote learning for 1.1 million students during the height of the pandemic, the Department of Education kept students segregated by geography and school district. However, with the benefit of a summer to plan for next school year, it would be irresponsible to preserve those same systems, particularly for full remote learning.

We have all been students at one point or another, and many of us are now parents who want the best for our children. Though we all hold varying opinions based on lived experiences, anecdotes, and media exposure, it is essential that we concede to evidence-based, peer-reviewed and scientific articles to help guide our stances and make informed decisions. Fifty years of academic, peer-reviewed research in the social sciences has found that we can improve learning outcomes for students when teachers are able to thoroughly and actively engage with their students' individual differences and learning styles.

We propose the creation of a new desegregated citywide school district to serve every student enrolled in all remote learning. The virtual schools within this new district would be organized around learning style, enrichment, and even common interest. Initial online diagnostics or results from remote learning earlier this year would help identify how students learned, so we can best match them with teachers and virtual classrooms filled with diverse groups of students who learned the same way.

Enrichment programs like gifted and talented programs or those tailored to specific interests and remote learning styles could finally be offered to every student who qualified, with additional classrooms opened for students who may not have qualified or even known to take the test but who deserve the access and opportunity none the less. Enrichment programs such as dual language programs in English and Spanish, French, Creole, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Urdu, Bengali, and more could proliferate and attract students of every color and creed. The roster of schools organized around standard common subjects such as STEM, Arts, English, or History could be expanded to include more areas such as sports and modern media. With the availability of real-time diagnostics and analytics for students as they complete assignments online, teachers and administrators would be able to provide support and guidance for any student who might have fallen behind in the traditional education system, which has over relied on high stakes testing and grades.

In order to meet new demand, the Department of Education, free of the constraints of physical school buildings and a limited number of classrooms, could offer teachers who have requested to teach fully remote, as well as any staff with a teaching certificate, the opportunity to lead these classrooms. We can reorganize virtual schools, classrooms, and teachers in an agile, data-driven approach to meet parent and student demand every step of the way.

Desegregation has always faced resistance, whether in Little Rock, Arkansas, or right here in New York City. Some might object that there is a short lifespan to any solution that relies heavily on remote learning to overcome the obstacles of geography and limited resources. However, what we offer is a path forward, leveraging this unique moment and the power of technology to take on systemic racism and desegregate now, not in some never occurring future. As we approach the end of the pandemic and a return to in-person learning, the all-remote program we’ve proposed might still be appropriate for some students or some programs. In the alternative, it can serve as a model for the city to learn from as we reorganize physical school buildings and classrooms to finally desegregate our school system.

Others might argue that they already have many of these programs in their district. Allowing for enrollment in programs from across the city will only open more options to parents, many of whom will find that in the status quo, even in school districts that do offer gifted and talented or other enrichment programs, roughly two-thirds of the children who qualify are routinely turned away.

Families of students of color or other traditionally marginalized communities may also prefer their children to be in a classroom with other kids of similar backgrounds. We must avoid a tokenistic approach to integration and proactively find ways to foster communities and learning environments where students who come from shared backgrounds can support and learn from each other. Remote learning provides more flexibility to create various learning environments to achieve these goals.

Though we are a little more than a month away from the start of school without a final plan for re-opening, we must acknowledge how ambitious our plan might be given the short time before us. The Department of Education must prioritize a safe re-opening and if desegregating all remote learning proves to be too resource-intensive, then we ask that a citywide pilot be launched. As a pilot, parents and students could be asked this week if they wish to participate, setting up a limited number of virtual classrooms to address specific need. Once established enrollment could be expanded for the Spring Semester and depending on the pandemic and success of the program rolled out citywide for the next school year.

Imagine the public education system we can create together, with the ambitious goal of taking on systemic racism and segregation, all while providing a historic opportunity for students of every race and ethnicity. There would be no more lotteries. No more geographic preference based on racist red lining. No more false constraints created by generations of disinvestment in communities of color. Parents and students could simply apply and be guaranteed a seat in the virtual classroom of their choice. Equal educational opportunities for all.

Sincerely,

Ben Kallos
Council Member

5th District

Robert Cornegy
Council Member
36th District

New York Post NYC pols call for a ‘desegregated’ remote-learning format by Selim Algar

NYC pols call for a ‘desegregated’ remote-learning format

A pair of City Council members is urging the de Blasio administration to use remote learning to better “desegregate” the district — including by offering more gifted and talented programs.

In a letter to schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday, Councilmen Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) and Robert Cornegy (D-Brooklyn) said online instruction frees the district up from building space and cost restraints.

That means remote learning can be molded to suit individual student needs — and even offer G&T-level instruction for kids in areas that don’t have the coveted programs, the pols said.

“The virtual schools within this new district would be organized around learning style, enrichment, and even common interest,” the letter stated. “Enrichment programs like Gifted and Talented or those tailored to specific interests and remote-learning styles could finally be offered to every student who qualified.”

Cornegy and Kallos argued in their letter that educational opportunity is distributed unevenly across the city — often on racial and socio-economic lines — and that remote learning can help to address that imbalance.

New York Post DOE still has no plan to fill nursing shortage ahead of school reopenings by Sara Dorn

DOE still has no plan to fill nursing shortage ahead of school reopenings

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New York City parents are raising alarms about the school nursing shortage as students prepare to return to classrooms in the fall — and the Department of Education still has no plan on how to fill the 400-nurse gap.

Nurses, parents and educators have complained for years that inadequate pay and increased medical needs of students are driving nurses away from DOE jobs. Last year, the shortage reached “crisis level” when dozens of school buildings were without a nurse on a typical day.

Now the issue is more urgent as parents and educators grapple with decisions on how to keep 1.1 million city students safe during a pandemic.

Parents at one Upper East Side school say the rotating nurses they had last year just won’t cut it now, and they’re demanding Chancellor Richard Carranza assign a designated, full-time staffer.

“The unique demands and challenges of re-opening during the global COVID-19 health crisis necessitate a different approach: we need a permanent nurse,” PS 290 parents insisted in a petition to Carranza that has drawn more than 500 signatures. 

On some days last year, “a temporary nurse was unavailable, which meant no nurse was present that day. The school was then forced to take extra steps in order to ensure the safety of the children with any health conditions,” the petition says.

The 82nd Street school is attended by about 500 K thru fifth-graders.

Mayor de Blasio announced a school reopening model Friday that was widely seen as light on details. He failed to mandate testing for teachers — and ignored the nursing issue altogether. 

Councilman Ben KallosStefan Jeremiah

“We’re really dealing with … imperfect solutions,’’ he told reporters in a conference call.

The DOE said Friday it was considering hiring more nurses and medical staff for the coming school year. 

“The health of our students and staff is our first priority for this upcoming school year, and nurses will play a critical role in supporting our schools. We understand where these parents are coming from, and are exploring several avenues to providing the necessary nursing

Letter Demanding More Seats for Remote Learning

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza, and President Grillo,

Following your announcement that New York City would plan to reopen its schools in the fall with a mix of in-person teaching and remote learning, we both raised concerns about the need for childcare as parents go back to work. On July 10, Council Member Kallos wrote a letter to you urging you to address what United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew has called the impending “Childcare Crisis” by exploring opening “remote learning centers” for children who cannot stay at home, and suggested that you look at existing public spaces such as libraries or youth, senior and community centers where available, as well as vacant storefronts to establish these centers. On July 11, Council Member Lander published a plan calling for wraparound enrichment services for children, employer accommodations for parents, and support for existing child care providers.

We were pleased to see your announcement on July 16 that the City will “provide quality, safe, free childcare options for 100,000 children this fall” by utilizing “schools, community centers, libraries, cultural organizations, and more.” We are concerned, however, that 100,000 childcare seats will not cover the children in need of a place to learn remotely. According to your plan one-half to two-thirds of those students will be out of school on any given day. New state social distancing guidelines for schools will greatly restrict the number of students able to be at school at any time, as we prioritize preventing the spread of Covid-19 and keeping our teachers and students safe.

Thank you for providing a portal for submitting property sites to be considered for this program. We ask you to continue to include elected officials and parents in your search for space to accommodate 100,000 socially distanced students and report on your progress regularly. We are eager to be of assistance and to learn about your progress in securing now-closed private and parochial schools, including 26 closed by the Archdiocese, existing public spaces such as libraries and community centers, as well as existing businesses and empty storefronts. First and foremost, we must find sites than can accommodate the social distancing guidelines, and ensure that whether in schools or remote learning centers, our teachers and students are safe.

More than 800,000 children from 3K through 8th grade attend New York City’s public schools. If in-person learning is divided into two or three shifts, then approximately 400,000 – 533,000 of these students will be learning remotely at any given time. We are concerned that the planned 100,000 childcare seats will be inadequate.

As the New York State economy continues to move forward with re-opening Phase 4, it is our responsibility in government to provide parents and children with the safest possible plan for re-opening schools with sufficient capacity. We join countless parents in demanding more information, including how placements will be determined if there is more demand than seats and in particular that the city plan for and guarantee a seat for every family and student who needs one even if that number is closer to 533,000. Parents continue to reach out to me to share their anxiety regarding the upcoming school year, and any additional information we can provide will help New York City’s families plan for this uncertain time.

Sincerely,

 

 

Ben Kallos

Council Member

5th District

Brad Lander

Council Member

39th District

New York Post Mayor de Blasio’s childcare plan is far from enough: councilmen by Susan Edelman

Mayor de Blasio’s childcare plan is far from enough: councilmen

Mayor de Blasio’s plan to provide child-care for 100,000 public-school students falls far short of the need, two City Councilmen say.

At least four times as many seats are needed to help parents grapple with the Department of Education’s patchwork plans to mix in-school and remote learning, Councilmen Ben Kallos and Brad Lander say in a letter to de Blasio obtained by The Post.

The lawmakers first proposed a child-care program two weeks ago. The mayor took up the idea, but “is doing it wrong,” Kallos said.

“More than 800,000 children from 3-K through 8th grade attend New York City’s public schools,” says the letter, also addressed to Chancellor Richard Carranza.