Should the NYS Department of Health Require COVID Vaccinations for Students 12 and Older?

Yes.  Children are already vaccinated for all other vaccine preventable diseases prior to entry into school.  SARS-CoV2 is just another vaccine preventable disease.  All children should be vaccinated when a vaccine is approved.

My last blog asked whether teachers and students should be vaccinated and the response was overwhelming, the response above characterizes the responses.

Mayor de Blasio skillfully stepped around the question for all city employees including teachers. Employees must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. The NY Times article estimates 60% of school employees are vaccinated, I think the percent is higher for teachers and lower for other school workers, i. e., lunch room, school aides, etc.

The city is setting up in school vaccination for student twelve years of age or older in the Summer Rising program sites.

The question of mandatory vaccinations for students is far more complicated.

The vaccination requirements in New York State are established by the state Department of Health and have been place for decades; most states have similar requirements. The requirements are specific, see here

The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are being used under Emergency Use Approval (EUA) pending full approval by the Federal Drug Administration, the vaccine manufacturers applied for approval several months ago and the expectation is full use approval in the fall.

Aside from urging parents to have their twelve and older children vaccinated the state DOH has to wait for full approval. A key player, so far under the radar is Howard Zucker, the NYS Commissioner of Health; the doctor and lawyer has a glowing resume and has been silent on the question of adding COVID vaccinations to the list.

The vaccine companies are working on vaccines for children from two to eleven years of age and an Emergency Use Authorization may be only a few months away (See here)

I suspect the city along with random testing will vaccinate at school sites.

The Delta variant has sharply increased COVID + in the city.

Without a citywide remote option how do schools respond to positive testing? Probably remote for the teacher and/or student; the mechanics will be complicated depending on the subjects the teacher teaches; the Department and the Union are working on the various scenarios.

Principals are mulling over their budgets and Central is attempting to put the special initiatives in place, trying to avoid the mistakes of Renewal .

The Single Shepard program, guidance counselors and social workers targeting families in the neediest school received glowing comments from teachers and school leaders; hopefully expanded.

Where are we?

Less than two months away from the first day of school, lots of work ahead, a chancellor and a union leader on the same page, an unexpected Delta variant surge one and huge unanswered question: will New York State move towards requiring student vaccinations?

Should Teachers and Students Be Required to be Vaccinated?

The COVID Delta variant is creating a Fourth Wave as infection rates begin to grow. The CDC July 6th guidelines,

  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained

 The New York State Department of Health is currently

reviewing the amended [CDC] guidelines and their decision on whether to relax mask wearing requirements in schools could impact whether the Department of Education adopts the new CDC recommendations. But for now New York City public school families should expect that teachers, staff and students regardless of vaccination status will need to face coverings in classrooms this fall, according to de Blasio. 

Once upon a time the governor, under his emergency powers would have made all of these decisions; recently he has had other issues to deal with ….

De Blasio has taken a major step toward requiring vaccinations for health care workers,

Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week that more than 40,000 workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics will soon be required to either be vaccinated or be tested on a weekly basis.

Can a city (or a state) require vaccinations for all employees or a subset of employees?

If the Delta variant continues to spread and the infection data shows growing infection rates would the city be within legal discretion to require vaccinations for all school employees?

The Supreme Court has actually ruled on this issue (1905

. During a smallpox epidemic the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts required vaccinations of all residents, the penalty was a fine. The case, Jacobson v Massachusetts (1905) was decided by the Supreme Court,

“Justice Harlan stated the question before the Court: ‘Is this statute . . . inconsistent with the liberty which the Constitution of the United States secures to every person against deprivation by the State?’ Harlan confirmed that the Constitution protects individual liberty and that liberty is not ‘an absolute right in each person to be, in all times and in all circumstances, wholly free from restraint’”:

There is, of course, a sphere within which the individual may assert the supremacy of his own will and rightfully dispute the authority of any human government, especially of any free government existing under a written constitution. But it is equally true that in every well-ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.

Whether the current Supreme Court would make the same ruling today depends upon the conflict between individual liberty and protecting public health,

An excellent article concludes,

 Public health programs that are based on force are a relic of the 19th century; 21st-century public health depends on good science, good communication, and trust in public health officials to tell the truth. In each of these spheres, constitutional rights are the ally rather than the enemy of public health. Preserving the public’s health in the 21st century requires preserving respect for personal liberty.

New York City facilitated vaccinations for school employees; I do not know the percentage of school employees that are vaccinated. Neither the governor nor the mayor has suggested requiring vaccinations; however, increasing infection rates and the conflict over school re-opening could raise the issue. As of now the city is planning for a full school re-opening without any remote option.

The question of whether employers can force unionized employees to be vaccinated is questionable,

As employers with union-represented employees, wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment are mandatory subjects of collective bargaining, meaning that changes can be made only if:  (1) permitted by the applicable collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”); or (2) bargained with the union representing the employees. Although the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has not yet explicitly addressed whether a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination program is a compulsory subject of bargaining, NLRB precedent strongly suggests that it is.  For example, in Virginia Mason Hospital, 356 NLRB 564 (2011), the NLRB held that an employer had a duty to bargain with its union-represented employees regarding a policy stating that employees must either get a flu shot or wear a mask while working.

It would appear that management, the city or the school district, would have to negotiate a vaccination policy with the collective bargaining entity, the union.  It also would appear that school employees represented by unions cannot unilaterally be forced to be vaccinated without a policy negotiated with the union.

The city can require vaccinations for new hires.

The current Supreme Court has seemed anxious to reverse prior decisions, the decision to allow states to restrict voting rights, to gut Congressional legislation is a recent example.

Governor Cuomo, citing his emergency powers granted by the state legislature limited attendance at religious services, the religious organizations filed suit arguing the limitations violated their First Amendment rights.

 In an unsigned opinion five of the conservative justices overturned COVID limitations on attendance at religious services imposed by the Governor Cuomo, writing,

Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area. But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. Before allowing this to occur, we have a duty to conduct a serious examination of the need for such a drastic measure.

Justice Sotomayor in a dissenting decision wrote,

Justices of this Court play a deadly game in second guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.

Would the Court rule that vaccination requirements violate a person’s right to privacy? Would not surprise me. 

Vaccinations for students have been in place for decades and are the domain of the state Department of Health; the state requires a number of vaccinations for an entry into school (See regulations here) with exemptions for religious or medical reasons.

The CDC recommends vaccinations for children twelve years of age or older; there has been no discussion about requiring vaccinations for age twelve children, of course, the Delta variant can change everything.

Hundreds of colleges are requiring all students to be vaccinated and so far the courts have sustained the required the requirement..

Six weeks until school re-opening.

Stay tuned.

The New York State Regents Agenda for 21-22: High School Graduation Requirements, Standardized Testing and CRT (lite)

The fifty states have fifty different school governance structures. In most states the governor appoints a board and the board selects a commissioner; New York State has  unique process, the 17-member of Regents are “elected” for five year terms by a joint meeting of the both houses of the state legislature, effectively by the Speaker of the Assembly, who involves the local elected members. The selections are non-political and the members are all high qualified. The two newest members are a retired principal and a school social worker. The governor has no role in the process. The members of the board elect a chancellor and choose a commissioner. I have been attending board meetings for a decade; none of the discussions has had a “political” taint.

Around the country, especially in Red states, legislatures and state boards reflect the politics of the moment, banning trans-gender students from participating in interscholastic sports, banning teaching material that makes student “uncomfortable, banning teaching the sordid side of our history and banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory (that is not taught in K-12 schools))

Samuel Goldman, a professor at George Washington University writes

The swift success of the anti-CRT movement probably won’t save it from the fate of its predecessors, though. From laws requiring favorable presentation of free enterprise to protection for critiques of evolution, statute books are where conservative curriculum reforms go to die …

This level of decentralization is an obstacle to any coherent education policy. A challenge to CRT bans in particular is that they’re unpopular among the people responsible for enforcing them.

As Tyack and Cuban wrote in Tinkering Towards Utopia, unless parents and teachers are on board the reform of the moment is doomed to the trash bin of education detritus.

At the May Board of Regent meeting the members clarified their role as a policy maker, the role of local school districts and the adoption of a sweeping policy document, a “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” policy statement.

The Regents exercise their authority in various ways, including by promulgating rules and regulations, adopting student learning standards, establishing academic and graduation requirements, and providing guidance and best practices to the field to ensure academic excellence for all students. The Board may also exercise its authority by adopting policy positions on significant educational and social issues. It is important for the Board of Regents to establish and communicate to all New Yorkers its beliefs and expectations for all schools and students – especially at those pivotal moments in history that we are currently experiencing.

We recognize that the decision to adopt a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy, as well as the contents of such a policy, are ultimately matters of local discretion  … districts should consider:  Specifically acknowledging the role that racism and bigotry have played, and continue to play, in the American story.

While the Regents do not mention Critical Race Theory, understandable, they ask educators to “acknowledge the role that racism and bigotry have played and continue to play in the American story.”

Kudos to the chancellor, the commissioner and the board members; in a world in which states are erasing history the education leaders in New York State are underlining the importance of teaching our history, our glorious moments and the dark underside of our history. Hopefully they will add to EngageNY, the state curriculum modules, to reflect the emphasis on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in lessons across the state.

Mayor de Blasio, as part of his education plan announced a new curriculum,

The plan’s most long-term vision is the creation of a new universal curriculum, which the city aims to finish developing by fall 2023.

Named the Universal Mosaic Curriculum, its goal is to provide culturally diverse lessons to help more students be engaged in school. The new curriculum will kick off this fall with nine million books being added to classroom libraries.

“I’m excited to ensure that every student is welcomed into an affirming, supportive and rigorous learning environment where they see themselves in the curriculum,” [acting chancellor] Porter said. “I’m more excited than I’ve ever been in my two decades in education for our most important first day of school.”

Pre-pandemic the Regents began a thorough review of New York State graduation requirements (See current requirements here). In the mid-nineties the Regents began to phase out the dual diploma, many students, especially students of color were tracked into the lower Regents Competency (RCT) Test diploma track. Slowly, very slowly, the state phased in the single Regents diploma. Today over 85% of students in the state graduate with a Regents/local diploma (See detailed graduation data here),  State Education has created a Multiple Pathways track, Safety Nets for children with disabilities http://www.nysed.gov/curriculum-instruction/cdos-pathway-regents-or-local-diploma, changed the English Regents exam to one day instead if two,  the Global Regents Studies to cover only the 10th grade (instead of 9th and 10th grade).

The state acknowledges,

While steady progress is being made to narrow the achievement gaps between the graduation rates of Black and Hispanic/Latino students compared to their White peers, the achievement gaps between these groups of students remain significant.

Significant progress has been made; we have to target ELLs,

                             Cohorts                       2015    2016

Current ELLs38.946.0+7.1

A core question is whether the state should primarily address graduation requirements or address the cohorts who fail to graduate?

Should we continue to require five Regents examination as a graduation requirement?  Should the Regents continue as end-of-course requirements, not a graduation requirement?  Should schools/school districts be allowed to replace Regents with projects?  How would a project system pass a “reliability and validity” test?  In other words, “inter-rater reliability?

Will lowering the graduation bar increase graduation rates and at the same time reduce the value of a diploma?   

The state should examine why students are dropping out.

To go to work?  Lack of appropriate schools?  Parenting responsibilities? Should the state create more transfer high schools?

And another role:  will the Regents take the leading advocating for alernatives to standardized testing? here

A busy year awaits.

Listen to Rhiannon Giddens discuss Afro-American contributions to Country Music  here

Getting into Adams Head: How Can I Get Off to a Successful Start As Mayor of NYC?

Why was the primary scheduled for June?  Why do I have to wait around for six months?

For decades primary elections were held the second Tuesday in September, in citywide races if no candidate received 40% a runoff election three weeks later and the general election the first Tuesday in November.

A federal judge ruled the September/November dates violated a law regarding overseas military ballots

Before 2012, the congressional and state primaries both took place in September. Separate votes happened after a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the primary date violated the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, which says overseas service members must get absentee ballots at least 45 days before a federal election to make sure the ballots can be sent back and counted in time.

The June primary victory and meager Republican opposition in the general election means the presumptive mayor has almost six months to prepare for his/her ascension.

I know the overriding issue is crime; it was the issue that propelled me to Gracie Mansion.

The crime statistics are troubling,

                 (one year from 2020 to 2021)    (two years)

Murder                       +4.7%                          +37.2%

Shootings                  +22.2%                        + 105.4%

Hate Crimes              +118.2%                      + 49.5%

While the murder numbers are declining they are still far above numbers for the past decade.  Maybe a reviving economy and the full opening of school will depress the numbers. I have to have a crime fighting scenario ready to go from day one, and I need a high profile police commissioner, one that I know and trust.

I have to balance vigorously fighting crime with not returning to the police tactics of Giuliani and Bloomberg. I have to balance “defund the police” and “lock them up.” I can’t risk alienating the very people who put me in office and I have to reduce crime.

I’m seriously considering a woman for commissioner.

I need a City Council Speaker who I can work with, and, who can keep their members in line.

The 51 City Council members will select a Speaker in early January, 35 members of the Council will be newly elected, and, many of the members are “progressive,” far more progressive than me. In the past the County Democratic leaders “negotiated;” chairmanships of key committees, capital projects, the horse-trading that is as old as Paleolithic man.  De Blasio supported Corey Johnson, a Speaker who worked with him and kept his members in line. I have to get involved; not getting someone I can work with will make life hard.

Aside from the police commissioner the school chancellor is the highest profile job in my administration.

De Blasio kept a tight rein, a very tight rein on his three chancellors; the line between educational decisions and political decisions was, to be kind, blurred.  After almost eight years the SHSAT is still unchanged, centrally run gifted and talented classes still in place (although this year the selection is by teacher recommendation) and the School Diversity Advisory Group report, co-chaired by Maya Wiley gathers dust.

I can’t send mixed messages.  

I’ll keep the SHSAT and my chancellor will push to integrate more schools.

De Blasio talked the talk and didn’t walk the walk, his bipolar behavior caught up with him.

After police commissioner selecting a chancellor will be a crucial choice. I could select the current acting chancellor or a former NYC superintendent (de Blasio brought back Carmen Farina), or another high profile New Yorker, some urge me to look for a national figure, a nother tough decision, I’m leaning towards a New Yorker.

The education budget is richly funded with American Rescue Act and Campaign for Fiscal Equity dollars; however, for only for two years, just in time for my next mayoral campaign,

(Read thorough explanation of NYC school funding here) and for the next fiscal year I have to live with de Blasio’s budget.

A crucial issue is working with Michael Mulgrew, the teacher union president. As borough president I had an amicable relationship with Mulgrew, while we disagreed on charter schools changes in the law can only be made in Albany and Mulgrew is a major player in Albany. I’m a blue collar guy and Mulgrew began as a carpenter, De Blasio’s Renewal initiative was a failure and his new initiative looks like a retread, I need something understandable to the public and widely applauded.

De Blasio’s commitment to pre-K and 3 for all will have a deep and lasting impact, maybe I should continue the investment in children, Norm Fruchter at the NYU Metro Center suggests a safety net for early childcare (Read here)

The teacher contract doesn’t expire until September, 2022; an early contract would be a huge plus.

I have to build a highly regarded team and satisfy conflicting interests

Who do I appoint to the Rent Guidelines Board? The Board determines rent increases for rent stabilized apartments; after the pandemic rent freeze landlords want rent increases, the real estate interests did contribute millions to my campaign, another tough decision.

We need more housing, a lot more housing, and home ownership. A new Mitchell-Lama program, we’ll need Albany, maybe housing for teachers and other city employees, Mulgrew and other union heads can be partners. The landlord-tenant relationship is fraught with conflict, home ownership is building assets.

The line of office seekers is long: how do I reward supporters and fill jobs with competent and loyal employees?

I know the rumors about “inappropriate financial dealings” have followed me for years.

I have almost six months to prepare myself, surround myself with the “best and the brightest,” and loyalist.

We have to build a “first hundred days,” a rollout of major initiatives, not just words, fully constructed programs across the city and across the policy landscapes.

Six months gives us the time to get out of the starting gate ready for the race to rebuild New York.

Tisch/Loeb versus Young/Rosa: The Battle Over the Charter Cap

A New York State Surrogate judge wrote, “No one’s life, liberty or property is safe while the NYS legislature is in session,” truer words were never spoken.

At 1:30 am in December, 1998, during a lame duck session called by Governor Pataki the legislature passed a package of bills,

Pataki and legislative leaders agreed on a package of bills that included the creation of charter schools, a 38 percent pay raise and proposals to penalize lawmakers for late budget and to help farmers receive higher prices for milk.

Over the last twenty years the charter school industry has grown exponentially. The original charter school legislation set a cap of 100 schools, over the years the cap has been increased a number of times (currently 460) a specific cap for New York City was reached a few years ago.

The current law: sets two charter school authorizers, the Board of Regents and the SUNY Board of Trustees/Charter School Institute. The two authorizers are totally separate and operate under regulations established by each authorizer. The Board of Regents Charter School Frameworks here and the SUNY Charter School Institute here.

The Board of Regents and the SUNY Board of Trustees have had a contentious relationship. Merryl Tisch, the former Chancellor of the Board of Regents advocated for the Board of Regents becoming the only authorizer, without success. Tisch and Shelly Silver had a long relationship and when Silver was indicted and left the legislature Tisch left the Board of Regents and was appointed to the SUNY Board of Trustees by the Governor, who appoints all members of the SUNY Board. Carl McCall stepped down as Chancellor and Tisch replaced him.

Daniel Loeb, a billionaire hedge fund investor was a member of the SUNY board and the leader of the SUNY Charter Institute, an extremely outspoken supporter of charters and an opponent of teacher unions. Loeb made “inappropriate” comments (many called racist) and resigned as leader of the Charter Institute. (See here) and the SUNY board.

The Board of Regents members are “elected” by a joint session of the state legislatures, in reality by the Speaker of the Assembly. The custom has been to make the selections in collaboration with the local state electeds.

The Board of Regents has rigorous standards for granting charters and frequently extends charters for less than the five year limit. SUNY extends charters for the full five years and in a number of cases well before the expiration of the charter.

 A few years ago SUNY claimed they had the right to certify teachers, “Independent licensure process is necessary to alleviate a teacher shortage.” The SUNY plan eliminated a master’s degree requirement for teachers and permitted charter schools authorized by SUNY to certifytheir teachers with one month of classroom instruction and 40 hours of practice teaching.”

The Board of Regents challenged the SUNY action in the courts and the court sustained the challenge.

SUNY, again, is directly challenging the Board of Regents by approving a charter high school in New York City, challenging the cap concluding,

The Regents are unable to make the required findings in accordance with Education Law §2852(2), including, but not limited to, the findings that (a) the charter schools described in the application meet the requirements set out in this article and all other applicable laws, rules and regulations; and (b) the applicants can demonstrate the ability to operate the schools in an educationally and fiscally sound manner. In addition, in accordance with Education Law §2852(9) there are no charters available for issuance in New York City. Although the proposed charter actions are identified as revisions, the nature of the proposed charter actions and a review of supporting documentation evidence the creation of a new charter high school, in potential violation of the law. These proposed charter actions must be abandoned.

Under the arcane law if the Regents returns a request for a new charter the SUNY board can ignore the request and after 30 days move forward with the charter.

The Board of Regents, as they did with the SUNY attempt to certify teachers, can challenge the action in the courts.

Michael Mulgrew, the leader of the teacher union applauded the actions of the Board of Regents (Read here)

 Why is SUNY challenging the NYC Charter Cap?  The cap is embedded in law and it is highly unlikely that the court will sustain SUNY?

Is Loeb flexing his muscles?

Does Governor Cuomo want to make raising the NYC Charter Cap an issue in his run for a fourth term? (Cuomo appoints the SUNY Board)

Will Cuomo and Adams cooperate in a pro-charter push in Albany?

Will this action mobilize progressive anti-charter legislators?

Stay tuned

How Will an Adams Mayoralty Impact Education?

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President is the unofficial winner of the hotly contested Ranked Choice Voting New York City Mayoral election; defeating Kathryn Garcia by 8,000 out of 800,000 votes cast – a one percent victory.

Adams has been an insider for years, a State Senator, a two-term Borough President, like de Blasio, who served on the City Council and as Public Advocate. They both “know the players.”

De Blasio came into office with an expired teacher contract, the union and Bloomberg were far apart and the union decided to wait for the new mayor; De Blasio quickly resolved the contract dispute amicably.

Adams will face a similar situation, the teacher union contract ends in mid November, and the lame duck mayor will probably pass the contract along to Adams.

The union will spend the fall developing bargaining demands, the union uses a highly membership driven process, a few hundred members on the bargaining team. 

.A post pandemic contract will set the stage for Adam’s tenure; will he negotiate a mutually acceptable contract that passes muster with the union membership, the budget hawks (Citizen’s Budget Commission) and the NY Times editorial page?

A contentious negotiation could mobilize city employee unions, fighting with the folks who actually run the city, a really bad idea.

The next teacher contract could continue trends in recent agreements, an increasing role for teachers in policies at the school level, i. e., budgeting, staff hiring, selection of curriculum, etc.

Adams is a supporter of charter schools, in New York State the legislature sets the rules, currently there is a cap on authorizing new charter schools and the legislature has shown no enthusiasm over raising the cap. I doubt Adams would spend political energy on the issue, too many other more important Albany issues. For example, mayoral control, he wants to continue mayoral control: should we continue the current rules, or, is he willing to support changes?  i. e., fixed terms for PEP members, a member selected by the City Council, more transparency, etc.

Selection of a new chancellor has to be at the top of his agenda. The current chancellor, Meisha Porter is the acting chancellor who replaced Richard Carranza on March 15th. Porter is a Department of Education lifer who worked her way up the ladder from classroom teacher; she is well-liked and low profile.

Adams could appoint Porter, or, seek a higher profile candidate.

There is always a racial component; an Afro-American mayor is not under pressure to appoint a person of color as chancellor.

Bloomberg hired a lawyer with no educational experience, not possible; the current Regents would not grant a waiver.

De Blasio chose a well-liked retired superintendent, Carmen Farina.  Adams could follow the same pattern; select a former highly regarded Department of Education superintendent, or, seek a national figure?  De Blasio’s first choice, the Dade County superintendent to replace Farina bailed at the last moment and Carranza, his hurried second choice struggled from the start.

A safe choice would be a New Yorker.

De Blasio co-mingled political and educational decisions, and did it awkwardly. He spoke as a progressive opposing the SHSAT at the same time ignoring the recommendations of his School Diversity Advisory Group (See here) and leaving school integration plans to individual districts.

Will Adams select “trusted” independent members to the PEP (the Board of Education)? For the almost twenty years of mayoral control the PEP members have been almost invisible.

A key role of the mayor is the budget; Adams will inherit the de Blasio-Johnson 21-22 budget and the plans to expend the American Rescue Plan dollars. The plan richly funds schools: will Adams and the new Speaker of the City Council amend the current budget?  The Speaker of the City Council, an extremely powerful position, think Mitch McConnell; will be elected in January by the 51 members of the Council. (Read an excellent discussion of the backroom dealings to select a Speaker here). With thirty-five new Council members any Speaker may have difficulty in keeping members in line; you could end up with a fragile Israeli type coalition

Some see Adams as the first “blue collar” mayor, a true representative of the working class, others as beholden to the real estate interests.

Ross Barkan, a journalist, scribes a scathing assessment of Adams and characterizes his upcoming mayoralty as “soft corruption.”

For the almost six months we will have two mayors, de Blasio in Gracie Mansion, with a moving truck waiting outside and Adams waiting to move in. They could work collaboratively to assure a smooth transition, or, more likely, an awkward transition.  For four months Adams will still be a candidate, running for election with meager opposition. His campaign has been vague, How do you reduce crime? How do you improve housing? Improve schools?

Adams will have a transition team and who he selects will be interesting, for example, who will be his education guru on the transition team?

I am hopeful, Adams and union president Mulgrew have a good relationship and the relationship should deepen.  If he selects a high profile PEP leadership and a well respected chancellor, with independence, education initiatives can move forward.

As far as the next chancellor, I’ve got a little list

On the 4th of July Weekend: How Should We Teach the American Revolution?

Who determines the content and process of teaching in my classroom?  State legislatures, school boards, parent activists?

The content in New York State are the Social Studies Frameworks (See here) a list of topics and the state requires students to pass exit exams, the controversial Regents examinations (See an American History Regents, January 2020 here).

There is an effort to create a roadmap, perhaps a better term than curriculum created by Educating for American Democracy,

Educating for American Democracy is an unprecedented effort that convened a diverse and cross-ideological group of scholars and educators to create the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy—guidance and an inquiry framework that states, local school districts, and educators can use to transform teaching of history and civics to meet the needs of a diverse 21st century K–12 student body.

The process of transferring knowledge, the actual process of teaching is the job of the teacher. State frameworks, or roadmaps may guide the content, you have to write the play. Teachers are writers, producers, directors, actors and (hopefully) critics of play with a run of one day.

How do you grab, and hold the attention of a fifteen year old?  Remember your competition: while you’re teaching the causes of the American Revolution how many kids are daydreaming, maybe fantasizing about whatever.

For decades we taught the causes of the American Revolution were basically economic, after the Seven Years War.  England was deeply in debt and turned to their colonies as a source of revenue through taxation, the colonies resisted, England, clumsily forced the issue and eventually the Jefferson authored Declaration of Independence. (Read here)

Over the years historians have begun to challenge interpretations,

Should I include a claim in the 1619 Project that a fundamental cause of the revolution was a defense of slavery? 

Should I assign Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker article (May, 2017), “We Could Have Been Canada?”

 . and what if it was a mistake from the start? ,The Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the creation of the United States of America—what if all this was a terrible idea, and what if the injustices and madness of American life since then have occurred not in spite of the virtues of the Founding Fathers but because of them? The Revolution, this argument might run, was a needless and brutal bit of slaveholders’ panic mixed with Enlightenment argle-bargle, producing a country that was always marked for violence and disruption and demagogy. Look north to Canada, or south to Australia, and you will see different possibilities of peaceful evolution away from Britain, toward sane and whole, more equitable and less sanguinary countries. No revolution, and slavery might have ended, as it did elsewhere in the British Empire, more peacefully and sooner. No “peculiar institution,” no hideous Civil War and appalling aftermath. Instead, an orderly development of the interior—less violent, and less inclined to celebrate the desperado over the peaceful peasant. We could have ended with a social-democratic commonwealth that stretched from north to south, a near-continent-wide Canada.

What a great lesson!

Should we read selections Thomas Paine’s Common Sense?

Should we study Sam Adams?

For if our Trade may be taxed, why not our Lands? Why not the Produce of our Lands & everything we possess or make use of? This we apprehend annihilates our Charter Right to govern & tax ourselves. It strikes at our British privileges, which as we have never forfeited them, we hold in common with our Fellow Subjects who are Natives of Britain. If Taxes are laid upon us in any shape without our having a legal Representation where they are laid, are we not reduced from the Character of free Subjects to the miserable State of tributary Slaves?

Was he a propagandist who inflamed mobs leading to violence or an architect of the revolution?

Should we teach that at the end of the war the Americans tried to re-enslave slaves who fled to the North while the British protected the formerly enslaved,

For their loyalty to the British during the war more than 3,000 slaves and freed black people were secured safe passage and their freedom to Nova Scotia, Canada. These African-American British Loyalists became the first settlement of Black Canadians.

A little sex, questions of race and an overriding question: are we a war-like people or was the war the only option? Can you imagine the discussions in class; I could divide the class into groups to argue all sides of the questions, or moderate Socratic dialogues?

How would parents react?  Am I raising “unpatriotic” concepts, should I “stick to the facts”?  Can I be accused of teaching Critical Race Theory?  Am I protected by the First Amendment (Read here) and my blog here; the differences between “protected” and “unprotected speech,” “job-related” and “citizen speech,” btw, a good lesson on the First Amendment.

Of course we should read the Declaration of Independence. (Read here)

Is it un-American to in any way criticize our Revolution and our founding fathers?

Is it inappropriate to teach that Jefferson fathered six children by an enslaved woman, Sally Hemings?

No one ever told me what and how to teach, yes, I was observed by my supervisor from time to time, I planned and debated with colleagues, I’m sure our classrooms were different, we emphasized different events, different concepts, and we made sure to prepare our kids for Regents examinations.

Is challenging firmly held beliefs the role of a teacher? Is asking students to come to their own conclusions our role?

Kids would ask, “What do you think Mr. G?”  My standard answer was “It doesn’t matter what I think, what matters is what you think.”

The role of a teacher is, to the best of their ability, to comply with Judge De Grasse’s decision in Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

An educated New Yorker, Judge  De Grasse wrote, should be capable of civic engagement such as jury duty, voting, and sustained employment in the competitive marketplace

Jose Feliciano sings the National Anthem

What Will September Look Like in Schools? A Return to Pre-COVID Normalcy, Testing and More Testing or Moves to School Autonomy?

You may have noticed last Friday at about 3 PM there was a breeze across the city, teachers breathing a sigh of relief, the most intense school year imaginable ended.

Today the Mayor and the Speaker in the City Council announced a budget agreement (Read details here); the Mayor calls the budget a “Recovery” budget.

A cursory look, no midyear budget adjustments, funding formulas equalized for schools and dollars for widely applauded programs continued and in some cases increased funding. We’ll find out the details over the next week as the budget hawks comb through the details. See more details here

The first Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) election is in chaos. Eric Adams had a substantial lead and appeared on his way to election, the transfer of votes from the voters who cast ballots at the polling places vaulted Kathryn Garcia into second place only an eyelash behind Adams with over 100,000 absentee ballots to be counted, and, after releasing the count the Board of Elections withdrew the count acknowledging errors.

We won’t know the results for weeks, maybe longer if the loser decides to challenge in the courts. Reminds me of a famous phrase by a NYS Judge, “No one’s life, liberty or property of safe while the Legislature is in session.”

Eric Adams, who appeared to have an insurmountable lead, announced he would accept the determination of the voters (Can he not accept the determination?, Sounds like another politician who recently refused to accept an election result); Eric Adams’ campaign and its surrogates said the collaboration (Yang and Garcia campaigning together) was a move to diminish the power of Black voters and likened it to “voter suppression” and others called RCV “racist:” if Adams loses will he move to the courts, or the streets?

The Board of Election in additions to determining the winner in RCV elections has to determine winners in other city-wide and councilmanic elections, over forty elections. Is the Board of Elections incompetent, underfunded, overworked or all of the above?

The leviathan, aka the Department of Education, meanwhile staggers forward; unfortunately, at the heart of the “recovery” model is half a billion dollars for testing,

  • Intensive Academic Recovery for Every Student to establish baselines with assessment data, core ELA & Math instruction, tutoring, and teacher planning time: $500M in FY22

How long have we been doing this?  Remediation simply is an ineffective strategy.  The Department seems to be following the Carranza model, called Edustats, frequent testing with teacher feedback, a remediation model.

Eric Nadelstern, a retired deputy chancellor, sees schools as the core of change, not bloated superstructures.

Eliminate as much of the bureaucracy north of schools as possible and put the savings into schools and classrooms

And empowering schools.

Democratize schools by involving teachers, parents and kids in the most important decisions that affect them. If there’s a lesson to take away from the January 6th insurrection, it’s that schools must go beyond simply talking about civics and democracy. They must become the best examples in our society of the many benefits democracy can provide. Students don’t learn from listening to us talk about democratic values, but rather from experiencing them.

And a simple plan,

Integrate schools within and across districts. Unzone our schools and admit by lottery if there are more applicants than seats.

Scottt Marion, the leader of the Center for Assessment and perhaps the most thoughtful commenter on the meaning of assessment

Accountability must shift from a top-down approach that relies heavily on a single end-of-year test to one that recognizes and supports the more holistic nature of learning and assessment reform.  

Further, my vision of accountability recognizes that real and sustained change only occurs when actors in the system take ownership of the need to change, as well as the methods necessary to bring about that change

Ukases from the aeries of the Tweed Courthouse (the Department of Education headquarters) do not change practice, as Marion says, real and sustained change only occurs when actors in the system take ownership of the need to change, as well as the methods necessary to bring about that change.

If remediation doesn’t work how should we plan for September?

David Steiner (and others) surveyed the research,

In these circumstances (substantial learning loss), schools may be tempted to focus on the need to” remediate” their students—indeed, to do so more than ever before. Remediation in the United States has traditionally meant that teachers try to provide students whose work is deemed “below grade level” with the material that they had not learned the first time around. Often this is called “meeting students where they are.”

This well-intentioned strategy sounds like common sense … there is strong evidence that this approach just doesn’t work. It is deeply discouraging to students, and in most cases, simply locks them into a permanent and debilitating learning gap. Instead, … I advocate for accelerating rather than remediating.

What does “accelerating rather than remediating look like? A principal of a school describes the process here https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/commentary/acceleration-not-remediation-lessons-field

Maybe I’m too harsh; maybe the collaborative relationship between Meisha Porter, the acting chancellor and the unions (UFT and the CSA) will result in a more school-based planning.

If the Mayor and the Department decided to  divide the 500 million, among the 40 school districts ($12.5 million each) and ask them to write plans with the principals, teachers and parents, in other words, ownership at the district/school level, accountability will owned by all the stakeholders.  Wishful thinking?

The Department is a bureaucracy, a self sustaining bureaucracy, and does an excellent job of surviving; it is a lump of silly putty, no matter how much you change the shape the lump returns to its original amorphous shape.

Will the new chancellor retain or disassemble the bureaucracy?

The Losers Will Elect the Winners: Elections in the New World of Rank Choice Voting

Polls close at 9 PM in New York State, within minutes of the closing of the polls totals would begin pouring in; a few hours later winners would be declared.  In the world of Rank Choice Voting and absentee ballots we’ll have a long wait: days or weeks. The next step is counting the absentee ballots.

That path to victory starts with absentee ballots. According to the New York City Board of Elections, 86,920 absentee ballots have already been submitted in the Democratic primary, and up to 120,580 more could still be en route (in this election, absentee ballots can count as long as they were postmarked by June 22 and arrive by June 29). And there are a couple reasons to believe that these ballots will help Wiley, and especially Garcia, make up ground.

If no candidate has a majority the transfer of “exhausted” candidate voters begins. The candidate’s votes are transferred to the # 2 choice, and continue until a candidate has a majority.

Early voting and election day ballots:

Adams       31.7%

Wiley          22.3%

Garcia        19.5%

Yang           11.7%

Stringer         5.0%

Morales         2.8%

McGuire        2.3%

Donovan       2.2%

The city’s Board of Elections plans to release the first round of ranked-choice results on Tuesday, June 29, and it will release updated results once a week after that as absentee ballots are counted. More complete results should arrive weekly through the week of July 12.

Adams predicted his lead would result in a victory.  Garcia said. “This is going to be a ranked choice election … This is not just about the ones. It’s going to be about the twos and threes.”

Wiley sounded a similar note — a mix of caution and hope.

“It is simply fact that 50% of the votes are about to be recalculated,” she said

Adams’ lead over Garcia and Wiley could quickly change as soon as absentee ballot votes are counted on July 6, about 15% of the vote total will be absentee ballots.

Who tends to vote by absentee ballot? 

Older voters, White, higher income, more highly educated: who are they more likely to vote for ????

Will McGuire votes transfer to Adams? Donovan to Garcia? Stringer to Wiley/Garcia? Morales to Wiley? Yang to Garcia?

The new mayor will select a chancellor; the current Department leadership will plan the September school opening and how the American Rescue Plan and the additional state funding are allocated.

The new mayor begins her/his term January 1, in the middle of the school year.

Maybe they’ll work collaboratively with current administration; maybe they’ll be sitting outside with their luggage waiting to move in.

In the midst of the election the Mayor and the City Council are in the process of finalizing a budget; of course the Mayor and most of the City Council are term limited and will be gone on December 31st.

There are major decisions:

Will the chancellor offer a remote option?

Will the budget provide for lower class size?

Will the budget fund additional guidance counselors and social workers?

How will the Department address “learning loss”?  Additional testing?  School-based options?

The new mayor will inherit a city in economic crisis,  the highest unemployment rate among large cities, empty offices, a staggering number of empty stores, no tourism, is New York recovering?  What can deBlasio and the mayor-elect do to stimulate growth

The Department and the unions are meeting regularly to plan the next school year, until the city budget is agreed upon key staffing questions are hanging.

The school year is over and school news has been pushed aside by this complex lingering election.

Enjoy the 4th.

Who Will the Next Mayor Choose for the Next NYC School Chancellor?

Today is election day in New York City, the first Ranked Choice Voting election, voters can “rank” (from # 1 to # 5) candidates.  The # 1 voter-getter in the first round may not be the winner, “exhausted” candidate ballots are transferred to other candidates. (See explanation of Ranked Choice Voting here)

It will take days, probably weeks to count the ballots, absentee ballots, early voting ballots, election day ballots and military ballots.

The primary winner, undoubtedly the winner in the November General election will be the mayor-in-waiting for almost six months; plenty of time to select a leadership team.

Due to the Citizen’s Unlimited Supreme Court decision, there is no limit to “independent expenditures,” many millions of dollars contributed primarily to Adams and Yang by billionaires and charter school supporters, (See NY Times article here).

The current chancellor is Meisha Porter (See official bio here  and NY Post here), selected  to serve in an acting capacity after her predecessor, Richard Carranza, surprisingly left after increasing conflict with the mayor.

Who would Adams pick?

He could simply reappoint Porter, the first female Afro-American chancellor and continuity, she planned the current summer school and the September re-opening, the allocation of the influx of dollars from the Biden Rescue Plan and the resolution of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit.

Adams might walk away from education and concentrate on reducing crime and rebuilding the city’s economy and leave education decisions to the local education councils

He can reach back into the past and select Rudy Crew who served as NYC Chancellor from 1995-99, currently President of Medgar Evers College and a long history of educational leadership positions.

Who would Yang pick?

Yang has no roots in New York City, no relationships to New York City politics. He might look for a national figure with experience in other large cities. A choice might be Paul Vallas, superintendent in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Stanford. Vallas would be highly controversial, He could go to Chiefs for Change; a Jeb Bush created organization to select one their members, for example, Angelica Infante-Green, currently commissioner in Rhode Island with deep roots in New York.

Who would Garcia select?

Garcia is a manager in the Bloomberg tradition. Bloomberg reached beyond the city and selected a range of managers separated from the age-old crony politics.

As sanitation commissioner she had a good relationship with the union, a strong and outspoken union.

Could she find a manager to run the school system who also had a good relationship with unions?  Maybe Josh Starr has NYC roots, a frequent commenter and a former superintendent in Montgomery County.

Should she look at former NYC superintendents who understand the complexities of the city?

Yang and Adams are charter school supporters; however, charter schools are subject to state law and under the current law the cap on charter schools prevents the creation of additional schools. Charter schools are supervised by either SUNY or the Board of Regents; see Board of Regents Charter Frameworks here.

Who would Wiley select?

An intriguing question: as the only progressive contender (aside from Morales who was polling in single digits and Scott Stringer, who is lagging in the polls) who opposed charter schools, a chancellor who supports eliminating testing for Gifted programs and aggressively pursues school integration efforts. Maybe Mark Dunetz, current the leader of New Visions for Public Schools or Tom Liam Lynch at the Center for NYC Affairs.

And Scott Stringer …

Stringer was the leading candidate until #metoo accusations lead to his abandonment by progressives who had endorsed Scott. The teachers union (UFT) endorsed and continued to support him in spite of the accusations. Scott might stick with Porter, continuity, Afro-American woman and majority/minority in the city.

The mayor-in-waiting will select a Transition Team, the selection usually is a clear indication of the direction of the soon to be mayor. 

To further complicate the UFT collective bargaining agreement ends in mid November. In New York State collective bargaining agreement remain in effect until the successor agreement is negotiated.

Will an outgoing mayor negotiate a contract that will impact the incoming mayor?  Representatives of the incoming mayor could be sitting at the bargaining table during the negotiations, or, de Blasio can simply say wait until after January 1 when the new gal/guy is in place. 

Bloomberg selected an attorney with no educational experience, not a possibility; the Board of Regents would not grant a waiver. Bloomberg/Joel Klein restructured the Department of Education five times!!  From ten mega-regions to forty-five Affinity Districts.

Will the new mayor seek to be an “education mayor,” or, allow the chancellor and the local education councils to make more decisions? 

Will the new mayor “thin out” the central bureaucracy?

Will the new mayor negotiate a contract with the union, challenge the union or create a collaborative relationship?

A new mayor, a new comptroller, four new boro presidents, 35 out of 51 new members of the city council and a new leader of the city council in an extremely well-funded Department of Education, at least for the next two years.

Vote, it really does matter, and a truly open election.