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.

New York Post NYC families say DOE dropped French dual-language program at last minute by Selim Algar

NYC families say DOE dropped French dual-language program at last minute

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who also pushed for the program, called for its reinstatement.

“The faster we bring the program to more francophone families that need it, the better off the children will be,” he said.

Gotham Gazette A Universal Internet Guarantee to Bridge the Digital Divide for Every New Yorker by Ben Kallos and Eric Adams

A Universal Internet Guarantee to Bridge the Digital Divide for Every New Yorker

A plan for internet access at school and home (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)

The coronavirus pandemic has shown all of us the importance of a reliable high-speed home internet connection, whether for remote learning and working from home or for gathering virtually with loved ones. There is a common cliché that “the virus doesn’t discriminate,” but the reality is that coronavirus disproportionately harms low-income communities of color impacted by systemic racism in government and the private sector.

With many households in these communities lacking high-speed internet, the shift to social distancing has been particularly challenging. As we prepare for a second wave, or for the next virus, we must rebuild our society with the guarantee of universal broadband—finally treating the internet as a utility like phone service or electricity. We must use all of New York City’s local regulatory power to deliver on the promise of universal broadband by establishing a Universal Internet Guarantee.

Mayor de Blasio recently took a step in the right direction when he announced $157 million in funding to expand broadband internet access to 600,000 underserved New Yorkers, including 200,000 public housing residents. But New York City’s public housing authority (NYCHA) has 173,762 public housing units, home to 381,159 authorized residents, and this plan could still leave half without internet. More than 1.5 million New Yorkers do not have broadband, and this plan would leave nearly 1 million of them on the wrong side of the ‘digital divide.’

To deliver truly universal broadband, we need several fixes at once. We could start with rezoning to require affordable Mandatory Inclusionary Internet, just like we required affordable housing with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. We could create incentives for 5G providers to offer affordable access. We can require cable providers to expand affordable internet offerings we already won to every single low-income New Yorker. And if the providers won’t do it, we can take over their networks and do it ourselves by establishing a municipal broadband network.

We can upgrade existing infrastructure by speeding along the conversion of old payphones into free internet kiosks and add WiFi to bus stops. We can even open up the city government’s wireless network to the public.

The pandemic has shown us the importance of giving every public school student who needs one a laptop and affordable broadband in the home to eliminate the ‘homework gap’ (that became a ‘schoolwork gap’ during the pandemic) and give a whole new generation a real chance at equity. Where all else fails, for those we still haven’t reached in low-income communities of color, we must invest the millions promised by the mayor in businesses owned and operated by women and people of color to spur innovation and connect every last New Yorker.

In partnership together, with an eye toward each of our roles in the city’s franchising, we have authored a report that focuses on some of the most important aspects of the digital divide and proposed solutions to help close it and bring us closer to the equitable New York City we need to move toward immediately.

Read the full report here.

Eric Adams is the Brooklyn Borough President and has a vote on internet franchises through the FCRC. Ben Kallos is a New York City Council Member with a vote on internet franchise authorizations in the City Council. On Twitter @BKBoroHall & @BenKallos.

Voice of America Community Centers, Museums Become Schools by John Russell

Community Centers, Museums Become Schools

In New York City, Council Member Ben Kallos pushed for unused stores and buildings to be used as classrooms, along with libraries and senior centers. But the idea did not go far because of concerns about laws, costs and other issues.

Kallos said that New York had many empty stores before the health crisis. That problem has only gotten worse.

“It seems only natural that the city could have activated each and every one of these spaces to serve our children in this time of need. It is disappointing and …. irresponsible that the city didn’t do it,” Kallos said.

New York Post NYC will try using school buses to give Wi-Fi to students in homeless shelters by Susan Edelman

NYC will try using school buses to give Wi-Fi to students in homeless shelters

After ignoring an offer from school bus companies for months, the city will finally explore whether the vehicles can be used to deliver Wi-Fi to students living in homeless shelters who can’t connect to online classes, officials told The Post.


Mayor de Blasio has committed to a long-term plan to provide Wi-Fi service in all apartments in existing and planned homeless shelters that serve families with children But that project is complicated because many shelters lack cables. Completion is not expected until summer — after the current school year ends.

Councilman Ben Kallos suggested hooking up Wi-Fi to TV cables in a shelter’s common area, but officials say the COVID-19 crisis raises health and safety concerns.

Upper East Side Patch Desperate Roosevelt Island Parents Ask City For Childcare Help by Nick Garber

Desperate Roosevelt Island Parents Ask City For Childcare Help

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Parents pleaded with the city on Sunday to expand its citywide remote learning center program to Roosevelt Island, where families have struggled to care for children attending class from home.

The city's Learning Bridges program, rolled out in September, is intended to allow parents to drop off their children at one of dozens of sites around the city on days when students are scheduled for remote learning, rather than in-person class.

Roosevelt Island, though, was not approved for a Learning Bridges site by the city's Department of Youth and Community Development — even though the applicant, the childcare center Island Kids, is "an institution" with a devoted following of families, according to City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the island.

TAPinto Roosevelt Island Parents Rally Virtually for Remote Learning Center by Marc Bussanich

Roosevelt Island Parents Rally Virtually for Remote Learning Center

New York, NY—Families of students who attend P.S./I.S. 217 on Roosevelt Island have no option on the island to send their children to a remote learning center because a long-standing childcare provider that applied to provide 45 seats was denied by the city. That’s why they joined a virtual rally earlier today with elected officials to ask the city to reconsider.


Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) hosted the rally, as he has been a leading advocate for expanding the number Learning Bridges seats. In fact, he wrote a letter to the Mayor first proposing the idea of remote learning centers for families who needed child care while students were learning remotely.

WCBS Radio Council member: Every NYC student should have the right to a laptop as 77K lack devices by Steve Burns

Council member: Every NYC student should have the right to a laptop as 77K lack devices

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- As the city still faces challenges making sure every student is connected for remote learning, there's a proposal for a more permanent fix.

At this point, all 1.1 million school kids in New York City are learning remotely either part-time or full-time.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza recently acknowledged that 77,000 students don't have internet-capable devices for remote learning.

The Department of Education said it’s working on it, but Council Member Ben Kallos said more needs to be done. He and other elected leaders are proposing making the right to have a laptop a guarantee for all public-school students.

“Now is the time to make it a law that every single public-school student should have a right to a laptop and an internet connection during their education,” Kallos said.


New York Post New bill would give loaded laptop to every NYC student by Susan Edelman

New bill would give loaded laptop to every NYC student

The city will have to give a laptop loaded with “culturally responsive” textbooks to every student under a bill to be introduced next week by Council Members Ben Kallos and Farah Louis.

The measure was prompted by a Department of Education official’s stunning testimony at a recent City Council hearing that 77,000 students still lack internet-equipped iPads needed for remote learning.

“Every student should have a computer and internet as part of their public school education. The homework gap was bad before the pandemic and has only gotten worse for low-income students of color who don’t have the internet or a device with a keyboard in their home,” Kallos said.

Students in city schools get both fully remote and blended instruction, a mix of in-person and online classes.

While the DOE recently ordered 100,000 iPads in addition to 300,000 it distributed during the COVID-19 shutdown, the bill emphasizes laptops with keyboards — especially for older students.

“It’s really hard to type out a 1,000-word essay by hunting and pecking each letter,” Kallos told The Post.

The bill would require that all students get laptops or tablets loaded with “culturally responsive” textbooks which reflect student diversity. The books can be obtained for free, Kallos said.

The legislation also would require the DOE to give an annual report on the number and cost of devices distributed, as well as the housing status of students receiving them. Even with Internet-equipped devices, many students living in homeless shelters don’t have access to WiFi.

Kallos and Lewis plan to introduce the bill on Thursday.

Statement Praising Schools’ Chancellor Carranza for Recognizing Remote Learning Can Open Up Gifted & Talented for All from Council Members Robert Cornegy, Jr. and Ben Kallos

Friday, October 23, 2020

“Every child who qualifies or simply wants one should be guaranteed a gifted and talented education and we are grateful that the Schools’ Chancellor Carranza is recognizing that. Free of the physical limits of a physical school or classroom, public schools can desegregate and open these programs to students across our city.”

“As we see a new surge in cases with parents and students choosing between continuing a hybrid in-person model or fully remote, we must implement a citywide remote learning option this school year that offers enrichment programs like gifted and talented or teaches to students’ learning style. With remote learning varying by classroom from hours of live streamed instruction to independent learning assignments followed by weekly reviews, we can and must connect families and parents with an education that supports their learning style.”



On August 7, as reported in the New York Post, former Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Cornegy, Jr. and Council Member Ben Kallos demanded that public schools use all remote learning as an opportunity to desegregate schools while catering to student learning styles and offering enrichment such as gifted and talented for all.

On August 23, the New York Post Editorial Board supported this proposal in an editorial “How NYC could make remote learning into a winner for many kids.”

On October 16, at an Education Committee Hearing, in response to questioning by Council Member Ben Kallos, Schools’ Chancellor Carranza expressed openness to using remote learning to expand gifted and talented programs requesting a copy of the letter which was sent again (see video at 2:35:14).

On October 22, at a Queens parental advisory board meeting, Chancellor Richard Carranza, said “In a virtual environment, if you have some criteria, then a student could ostensibly, with a very gifted teacher, have more students having an experience of a gifted experience, not just in one classroom. Let’s say you have a really gifted and talented teacher that is willing to have 60 students across five schools in Queens. Now you have the ability to give that experience to more students,” according to the New York Post