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 County Politics MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Oct. 6, 2020 by New York County Politics

MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Oct. 6, 2020

Kallos Cuts Ribbon Celebrating New French Dual Language Programs on UES

Council Member Ben Kallos (Photo credit: council.nyc.gov)

Council Member Ben Kallos

Last Friday, Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of two new French dual language classes at the District 2 Pre-K Center.

Kallos first proposed the idea for the classes last December; he hosted a petition urging the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to establish a French dual language program for School District 2. His petition accumulated 200 signatures, and the programs were greenlit three months later.

“I am incredibly proud of the people who did the work in order to make this program a reality,” said Kallos. “Knowledge is power so any opportunity we get to expand and improve education in my district I will be supportive of. We all know the benefits of dual language education and I am proud that we were able to bring them to this district. Thank you to Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack for his ongoing partnership in expanding early education opportunities, the French Consulate for supporting the Francophone community, and especially to Stephane Lautner and Catherine Remy who worked closely with my office to put meetings together and organize hundreds of other parents.”

Upper East Side Patch UES School Celebrates New Dual-Language French Program by Nick Garber

UES School Celebrates New Dual-Language French Program

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Officials and families cut a ceremonial ribbon at an Upper East Side pre-K center Friday, marking the start of a new French dual language program nearly a year in the making.

The program's origins date back to a December 2019 meeting with City Councilmember Ben Kallos and local school leaders and parents at the Stanley Isaacs Center.

That meeting gave rise to a petition signed by more than 200 parents pledging to send their children to a French dual language program if such a program was created, Kallos's office said.

TAPinto 40 Pre-K Seats Now Available for French Dual Language Program by Marc Bussanich

40 Pre-K Seats Now Available for French Dual Language Program

New York, NY—Council Member Ben Kallos led a ribbon cutting to announce the availability of 40 Pre-K Seats for a French dual language program that will serve members of the Francophone community on the East Side.

According to Council Member Kallos, the New York City Department of Education will operate the classes using a side-by-side instructional model where it will have one Early Childhood-certified teacher who is fluent in French and who has or will work towards a bilingual extension, alongside a second Early Childhood-certified teacher.

Classes started at the Pre-K Center at 355 East 76th Street on September 21.

Kallos was joined at the ribbon cutting by parents, teachers, school administrators and the French Consulate General to New York, each of whom had an opportunity to say a few words during the press conference about how grateful they are that the DOE recognized the need and agreed to make the seats available.

The ribbon cutting preceded a multi-year effort of activism by numerous parents in the neighborhood, which Kallos recounted in his opening remarks. He talked particularly about one parent, Stephane Lautner, who first reached out to the president of the Community Education Council District 2, Maud Maron, to discuss the possibility of making seats available for a French dual language program.

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.