The 2013 Primary Candidates on Education

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Former Comptroller Bill Thompson has touted his education credentials, namely his time as president of the board of education in the pre-mayoral control era.

Photo by: Thompson for Mayor

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson has touted his education credentials, namely his time as president of the board of education in the pre-mayoral control era.

The 2013 Mayoral Candidates on Education

To date, the New York City mayoral hopefuls have been far more critical than constructive on education. But they are starting to air their own views on an increasing number of educational issues.

To date, the New York City mayoral candidates have been far more critical than constructive on education, with far more to say against Bloomberg’s work in public schools than about their own plans for education reform—a tactic that The Coalition for Educational Justice says can be blamed on the political safety of bashing Bloomberg’s less-than-popular reforms. However, as Election Day nears, candidates are starting to air their own views on an increasing number of educational issues—gaining leverage by highlighting key endorsements and previous experience.

Bill Thompson served five terms as head of the Board of Education, and touts a recent endorsement from the powerful United Federation of Teachers. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has the support of the Educational Justice PAC and experience on Brooklyn’s progressive District 15 school board. He also offers a strong vision for universal pre-K, which would require some arm-twisting in Albany. Speaker Christine Quinn cites her work to improve early childhood education and prevent teacher lay-offs during her time on the Council, while Anthony Weiner’s texting scandal recently caused President Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers to ask how such a man can run for mayor when a teacher with the same conduct record would be fired. Sal Albanese and Adolfo Carrión both highlight their previous work as public school teachers.

A recent
from A+ NYC (a coalition of 50 of the city’s non-profit, community and advocacy organizations, asked students and parents to identify areas of educational policy that they believed needed reform. The three mandates that received the most support for the next mayor: reducing the importance of standardized testing, fighting for additional funding for public education and integrating arts into the school day.

Below are candidates’ responses to these issues, along with sundry opinions on how to improve the city’s schools. (No content is noted where candidates have been silent. Check candidates’ websites for more detailed plans in their own words.)

  • Testing
    Should the Department of Education lower the stakes on testing?
    Bill de Blasio: Yes ,”It’s poisoning our system.”
    John Liu: Yes
    Christine Quinn: Yes
    Anthony Weiner: No, “I would test annually and I don’t have a problem with that.”
    Sal Albanese: Yes, “We [need to] end high-stakes testing. We’ve seen the end product of that: Teachers are stressed out, kids are stressed out.”
    Bill Thompson: Yes
    Joe Lhota: Yes, suggests he’d focus on more creative methods in the classroom.
    John Catsimatidis: Yes, thinks tests are too difficult, designed for “nuclear scientists and highly intellectual people.”

  • Arts Education
    Is mandating instruction in the arts a priority?
    Bill de Blasio: Yes, would do so by increasing taxes on the wealthy for after-school arts programming.
    Christine Quinn: Yes. “We need a school system that makes time for science and technology, art and music, physical education, and creative thinking.”
    Anthony Weiner: No
    Sal Albanese: Yes
    John Liu: Yes
    Bill Thompson: Yes, “We did it before. The Bloomberg administration took the money out.”
    Aldolfo Carrión: Yes

  • Increased Funding
    Will candidates fight on the federal, state and local levels to bring more money to education?
    John Liu: Yes, proposes new taxes on New Yorkers earning over $500,000 a year.
    Christine Quinn: Yes
    Bill de Blasio: Yes, says New Yorkers who earn more than $500,000 a year would see a tax rate increase from 3.86 to 4.3 percent.
    Anthony Weiner: Yes
    Sal Albanese: No, believes “city taxes should not be increased to fund schools.”
    Bill Thompson: No. “Let me be blunt, so there’s no misunderstanding: I’m not raising taxes.”

  • Charter Schools
    Should charter schools be supported and increased?
    Christine Quinn: Yes. “I don’t think we want to make them the definition of our system. I think we’re at an appropriate level, but I don’t think we want to pull that option.”
    Anthony Weiner: No
    Joe Lhota: Yes; advocates doubling existing charters.
    Bill Thompson: Yes.”[I] spoke out in support of expanding our city’s many extraordinary charter schools.”
    John Liu: No. Says we shouldn’t lift the cap on charter schools.
    Bill de Blasio: No. “We don’t need new charters.”
    Aldolfo Carrión: Yes
    John Catsimatidis: Yes. Charters should grow to “absorb” the current 50,000-student waitlist.
    George McDonald: Yes, “I think the mistake is that we don’t have enough charter schools…And I think that one of the things that’s very important about it is to be able to fire teachers who don’t perform.”

  • Rent for charters?
    The city currently provides free space to most of its charter schools. Should charter schools pay rent?
    John Liu: Yes
    Bill de Blasio: Yes
    Bill Thompson: No
    Sal Albanese: No
    Christine Quinn: No. “The model is based on not paying rent. If you say ‘you’re going to pay rent,’ you’re not going to have charters.”
    Anthony Weiner: No

  • Co-Locations
    More than half of DOE schools share school buildings with other schools. Do school co-locations hurt students and school programming?
    Christine Quinn: No. “For some parents, it’s [charter schools] an option they want, and I want to keep that option there, and without co-locations, there isn’t really a way to do that.”
    Sal Albanese: No
    Joe Lhota: No
    Bill de Blasio: Yes. Says he wants to increase parental engagement and communication in the process.
    Bill Thompson: Yes
    John Liu: Yes. Wants to impose a moratorium on co-locations with exceptions for community-grown charter schools
    Anthony Weiner: No. “I don’t have an objection of co-locating charter schools and public schools where there’s space.”
    Aldolfo Carrión: No

  • Teacher Quality

    Should teacher pay be linked to student test scores?
    Joe Lhota: Yes
    John Liu: Yes
    Jack Hidary: Yes
    Christine Quinn: No
    John Catsimatidis: Yes

  • School Safety
    Should NYPD control over school discipline be returned to principles?
    John Liu: Yes
    Sal Albanese: Yes
    Bill Thompson: Yes
    Bill de Blasio: No. He “wouldn’t change the jurisdiction” of school safety officers and exclude them from schools, but “it’s not a yes or no to me, to be honest with you.”

  • Student Suspensions
    Do city schools need better oversight regarding student suspensions and arrests?
    Bill de Blasio: Yes
    Christine Quinn: Yes
    Anthony Weiner: No, “Disruptive students should not be in the classroom.”

  • Class Size
    Should lowering class size be a top city priority?
    John Liu: Yes,.”I think we can reduce class sizes in a meaningful way without adding significantly to the budget of the DOE.”
    Sal Albanese: Yes. “I think class size in the early grades shouldn’t be larger than 20. We know that that works.”
    Bill de Blasio: Yes. “You can’t have class size at the level it is now and expect to change graduation rates.”
    Christine Quinn: Yes
    Bill Thompson: Yes
    George McDonald: Yes

  • Expanding Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten
    Is providing all New York City students with a pre-K education necessary in order to better prepare them for a successful future of learning?
    Christine Quinn: Yes
    Bill de Blasio: Yes. Proposing tax increase on wealthy to pay for universal pre-K.
    Sal Albanese: Yes. Wants to consolidate programs like Head-Start and Pre-K to eliminate financial waste and increase access.
    Bill Thompson: Yes

  • Beyond the Schoolroom
    What do schools and students need that DOE currently overlooks?
    Bill de Blasio: Universal pre-K; greater access to health care and social services for students
    John Liu: Bridge-building;.”Charters divide communities.”
    Christine Quinn: Communities deserve greater say in their schools; eliminate field testing of standardized exams.
    Bill Thompson: To raise the graduation rate, develop alternatives to Regents exams.
    Anthony Weiner: As Mayor, he will personally mediate conflicts between traditional public and charter schools.