On Tuesday Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an expansion of middle school summer enrichment programs, along with the selection of 271 providers for those services. He described the expanded after school programs as, together with universal pre-K and the community schools program, part of his efforts at broadly improving the school system. de Blasio was joined by Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Council Member Andrew Cohen.
On topic questions included: what defines a “community school”, whether community schools are only located in low-income neighborhoods, whether there is a plan to extend universal pre-K to three year olds, how much more expensive community schools are to operate than “regular” schools, why was the UFT not at this announcement, whether academic gains are expected from community schools and how will such gains be measured, what programs are added to “regular” schools as they are converted into “community” schools, potential changes to the admissions process for specialized high schools and whether the seats announced today are new programs or new spaces.
Off topic questions included: the ISIS in Iraq and potential threats to New York, his hair color in a World Cup themed picture, the City’s negotiations with CW Capital concerning Stuyvesant Town, whether he concerned that religion-affiliated CBO’s pre-K programs will involve some religious instruction or indoctrination, the Rent Guidelines Board and a possible rent increase, rating his administration on it’s FOIL responsiveness, whether subway dancers are a “sign of urban decay”, whether he is contemplating a special district for failing schools and whether there is symbolism is seeking to bring the Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn rather than Manhattan and whether he has coordinated that effort with Hillary Clinton.
Here is the full Q&A:
Mayor Bill de Blasio continued his rollout of expanded pre-K today, visiting P.S. 1 on the Lower East Side. Joined by Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, who represents the district, de Blasio held a press conference and then visited a pre-K class.
Topics in the Q&A included the source of money for the City’s planned pre-K advertising campaign, the City’s target number of pre-K applicants, whether Speaker Silver thinks the proposed income tax surcharge should be pursued next year, how the pre-K selection process will work, how the City will cover the approximately $40 million annual gap between the estimated cost of pre-K and the amount provided in the state budget, when parents will learn whether their pre-K application has been accepted, how the City will collect data and measure success of the pre-K program, whether the existing pre-K application process will be changed, how the City will use money from the anticipated school bond issue, the mayor’s reaction to a 2nd Circuit ruling that City may bar religious groups from renting after-hours space in public schools, the status on a proposed restaurant in Union Square, a tax break included in the state budget that provides millions of dollars to a Bronx condominium project, the “shop & frisk” meeting today between the Rev. Al Sharpton and Police Commissioner Bratton and a pending HPD case against a Brooklyn landlord.
Update – Future Income Tax Surcharge?:
Andrew Siff, of WNBC-TV, asked Speaker Silver whether he believes the legislature should try again next year to pass the income tax surcharge proposed by the mayor. Here’s how he responded:
Update #2 – Silver, Henry Street & Pre-K:
Although Speaker Silver was a key part of including pre-K funding in the state budget, his personal history was a bit off-message today.
Fresh off of securing pre-K funding in the state budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio pivoted to the next phase of his pre-K initiative with a visit to Ridgewood’s P.S. 239 aimed at encouraging parents to register for fall 2014 enrollment. Among those joining de Blasio for a press conference following the mayor’s tour of the school; Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Senator Mike Gianaris, Council Member Danny Dromm and Council Member Antonio Reynoso.
Bratton & Police Morale:
During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Newsday’s Emily Ngo asked de Blasio about Police Commissioner Bratton’s recent statement on NYPD morale and his attribution of responsibility for it to former Commissioner Ray Kelly. Here’s how de Blasio responded:
Update – Full Q&A:
On topic questions included the application process for admission to the pre-K program, whether the website and other enrollment tools have been sufficiently tested, how applicants will be chosen or assigned to specific pre-K spots, how the public schools hosting expanded pre-K will be chosen, how the space sharing arrangements between new pre-K classes and existing classes will be managed, the role of charter schools in providing new pre-K seats, whether pre-K students may also enroll in after school programs and whether parents applying for public school pre-K spots should refrain from also applying for community based organization pre-K spots. Off topic questions included Commissioner Bratton’s statement regarding NYPD morale, whether the mayor agrees with parents opting out of Common Core testing and whether such opt outs may skew the test data, the process for parents wishing to opt out of Common Core testing, specialized high school entrance exams and the mayor’s actions concerning raising the minimum wage.
Here is the full press Q&A:
This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio held a bifurcated press conference.
In the first portion the mayor lauded, and gave commendations to, two police officers for their actions in saving the life of a 15 month old child. When police officers Michael Konatsotis and David Roussine responded to a call while on patrol Saturday on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, they encountered parents with an unresponsive toddler. Konatsotis, a former EMT, resuscitated the child as Roussine rushed them and the child’s parents to a nearby hospital.
In the second portion of the press conference de Blasio discussed the middle school after school program portion of his pre-K/middle school after school program initiative. The pre-K portion has received the overwhelming share of public and media attention.
Questions during the Q&A portion of the press conference included his plans during his scheduled visit to Albany on March 4th, why he expects to convince legislators who he has not convinced, whether he’s concerned that the middle school program will be pushed aside if there is a pre-K funding mechanism other than his proposed tax, where the money to fund the middle school program will come from, how he counters the argument that his tax proposal is unfair to cities that do not have a high earner tax base, how he will measure the success of the program absent additional standardized testing, whether he expects to meet with Governor Cuomo or Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos during his March 4th trip, what he would say to a parent whose child planned on attending one of the charter schools that his administration refused to allow, whether he doubts Governor Cuomo’s commitment or ability to deliver on the funding the governor has promised, what are the major hurdles in trying to convince the state senate to approve his tax proposal, whether there’s an absolute deadline for getting his tax proposal approved, whether he can promise parents pre-K spots should Governor Cuomo’s proposal gointo effect, and why he has not met with Congressman Michael Grimm since taking office.