A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 12, 2005
Education (Charter Schools; Vouchers)
Education is obviously very important, but the mayor and the city council play more important roles here. The borough president does appoint two members to each community education council.

More charter schools and school vouchers are the obvious solutions, and I will encourage them. (See the article below.)

I believe that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit is a disastrous mistake that will only raise our taxes. We already spend an outrageous amount of money per pupil. More money is not the answer by itself.

Eva Moskowitz has allegedly made her name on education issues, but I can't see that she's done much of anything. The current mayor has changed the entire educational system. I feel her own mayoral aspirations against a term-limited mayor would make her more bluster than substance, ultimately harming our students.

Here's what the other candidates say.

We need more small schools in every neighborhood in Manhattan, and we should support programs like charter schools that will help us accomplish this goal.

As Manhattan Borough President, I will have the direct responsibility to oversee where money is spent including lower class sizes, investment in early education, after-school programs, and better paid and trained teachers.

New York suffers a crisis of scale. Many of our students attend schools with thousands of other students. Study after study shows that smaller class size and intimate environments are the most conducive for learning. As Borough President I will focus on urging our city to allow the creation of as many reduced-size schools as possible. Schools such as The School of the Future in Gramercy, the Upper West Side's Beacon School, or The New York City Museum School in Chelsea have been shining successes. None of them has an enrollment over 1,000 students. Our elected officials, community leaders, parents, and businesses must unite to extend these opportunities to as many city students as possible.

A strong supporter of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Eva has worked to increase city funding for key education initiatives. She secured $16 million for "Teacher's Choice", a City Council initiative that reimburses city school teachers for classroom supply purchases.

(Charter Schools; Vouchers)
22 March 2005, New York Sun, "Lifeline to New York" by Thomas W. Carroll:
There has been intense interest in vouchers since the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman popularized the concept in the 1950s, especially among libertarians. But parental interest in school choice is not motivated by ideology. Most moms and dads just want something better for their sons and daughters. The "something better" generally is a safe school with quality academics. Most parents have come to the conclusion that district schools in New York City, with rare exceptions, aren't getting the job done. Whether the school is public or private is a secondary issue to them.

It's not surprising, then, that public charter schools and private school choice vouchers are popular now.

New York has tried charter schools over the past five years and the parental response has been tremendous, with most charter schools having very large waiting lists.

At the same time, most observers have figured out that public charter schools, while an important part of the solution, cannot possibly create enough spaces by themselves for the more than 300,000 students presently trapped in New York City's failing district schools. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's current plan for 50 new charter schools is a good start, but it simply will not reach enough students.
Simply put, if students have options, all schools improve.

It is ironic that New York has taken so long to consider a voucher initiative. Although New Yorkers are fond of viewing the city as the intellectual capital of the world, school choice is one issue where New York has been lagging behind intellectual and policy developments elsewhere.

Consider the following significant school choice moments in the nation's history. Minnesota was the first state to adopt a charter school law in 1991 (New York was the 34th state to do so in December 1998 only after a big push by Governor Pataki). The nation's first voucher law was passed in Wisconsin in 1990.The first tuition tax credit laws were adopted in Iowa (1987), Arizona, and Minnesota (both in 1997), and Minnesota has had a tuition tax deduction on the books since 1955. Maine and Vermont have had programs for more than a century that allow towns that opt not to operate public schools to allow residents to receive publicly funded subsidies to attend public or nonreligious private schools of their choice.
As the political trends shift in favor of broader school choice options, voucher programs keep popping up all across the country.
In New York, the political class has been a bit slow to pick up on the growing support for school choice. The leading Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City all toe the teachers union line, while Mayor Bloomberg, looking to avoid further controversy in an election year, ducks any questions about vouchers.

27 April 2005, New York Sun, "Ognibene will fight Bloomberg all the way to November election" by Meghan Clyne:
Echoing nearly all of the Democrats in the race, Mr. Ognibene praised Mr. Bloomberg for having gained control of the city's schools but faulted him for having squandered that opportunity to improve them. He accused the Bloomberg administration of micromanagement of education, saying it was failing the students, and he expressed concern about violence in schools, advocating vouchers to provide private-school educations for students unable to learn in public schools.

Posted by Barry Popik
Manhattan Borough President (2005 election) • Sunday, June 12, 2005 • Permalink

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