Turn the Ballot Over!

The NYC Charter Revision Commission has published its instructions for voters — the first of which says “turn the ballot over.”

Presumably, the commission isn’t telling us to skip the front, where we can vote for governor and comptroller, among others.

But once we turn the ballot over, we’re into charter country, where things aren’t always what they seem to be. Continue reading

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Lipstick on a Pig

Source: NYC DOE

We like standardized tests almost as much as Bloomberg and Klein do, so we’ll give you a multiple choice quiz:

Question 1: Which of the following headlines — all triggered by the same Department of Education school ratings press release — is the most attention-grabbing?

(a) “Schools Get Report Cards From City Education Dept.”
(b) “With Standards Tightened, Far Fewer New York City Schools Receive a Grade of ‘A’”
(c) “Just 5% of city’s elementary/middle schools got Ds and Fs this year in new progress reports”
(d) “Progress Absent at Most Schools”
(e) “Grade shock: Regular schools top charters” Continue reading

Landmarking: A Dissenting View from a Reader

Photo: Flatbush Gardener

With a deadline approaching on November 1 for the Historic Districts Council’s “Six to Celebrate” competition, which is intended to help a half-dozen out of the “couple of hundred” applicants that the Landmarks Preservation Commission expects next year, here’s a caution from reader Bill of Brooklyn, based on his experience with historic designation:

“Suppose you own a restaurant in New York City and one of your ovens breaks.  It’s 100 years old and you’ve repaired it repeatedly, so you contact your supplier to buy a new, high-efficiency oven.  He files for a permit with, say, the Department of Buildings. Instead of approving it, they tell you that you have to fix the old one. Continue reading

Why Wait for Superman?

This is not about “Waiting for Superman,” Davis Guggenheim’s heavily hyped new documentary, which examines the success of Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone and the KIPP charter schools, and asserts that reform efforts to improve public education are being actively resisted by America’s teachers unions.

No, this is about film critics for the New York Times, the Daily News, and the NY Post using their editorial platforms to inject calumny into an already-difficult national dialogue, where they are impeding the very reforms they seek. Continue reading

Who’s the Boss?

Stephen Goldsmith

A September 19 piece in the NY Post reports that Transportation Commissioner Janet Sadik-Khan and Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith got into a tiff over Sadik-Khan’s aggressive promotion of bicycle lanes throughout New York City.

The Post then noted that Sadik-Khan now reports jointly to Goldsmith and to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Steel. Continue reading

Charter Schools: Public or Private?

A couple of months ago, the MTA shut down Brooklyn’s B23 bus route, which had served the Kensington and Ditmas Park neighborhoods for decades. Replacing it will be city-sanctioned “dollar vans,” operated by Sunset Transportation Service, Inc.

The B23 story is an example of the privatization of government services that’s happening throughout the United States — a series of decisions by local governments to substitute private companies for public employees to deliver essential services. Continue reading

Mayor Bloomberg Had Nothing To Do With It.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Once again, the Daily News has criticized the work of the 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission without implicating Mike Bloomberg, who appointed it.

A September 10 News editorial echoes a NY Times poll, which showed over 70% of New Yorkers are disappointed by the charter commission’s decision to offer voters a chance to restore two-term limits, but not until 2021, and to use a second ballot question to lump together seven separate charter proposals. Continue reading