www.nyckidspac.org

1275 First Ave Suite 225

New York NY 10065

info@nyckidspac.org 

(518) 712-9466

Candidate Survey

Please return by August 15, 2017 to info@nyckidspac.org

Candidate full name

Antonio Reynoso

Website

reelectantonio.com

Staff contact and e-mail

Alexis Rodriguez/ ALRodriguez153@gmail.com 

Phone number

787-519-7376

Running for what office

City Council, District 34

 

 Governance

Many New York City parents feel disenfranchised by the current system of mayoral control over public education and feel there are insufficient checks and balances. About two thirds of voters agree, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.  Would you support changes to the system to give parents more voice in decision-making and/or provide checks and balances to the current system?

Which of the following changes to what is now called the Panel for Education Policy (the de facto Board of Education) would you support?   Please check as many as you like.

Yes

No

  • A directly elected Board of Education

x

  • A reconstituted Board of Education with a majority not appointed by the Mayor

x

  • Community Education Councils (CECs) selecting parent representatives to the Board of Education

x

  • Board of Education members with set terms, who cannot be fired at will by the mayor

x

  • The City Council having checks and balances over DOE policies as they do with other city agencies (municipal control)

x

Which of the following measures to ensure that parents and community members have a voice in their children’s schools would you support? Check as many as you like.

Yes

No

  • Expanding the powers of Community Education Councils, including the approval over school closings and co-locations

x

  • Restoring the authority of School Leadership Teams (SLTs) to develop school based budgets

x

  • Allowing school based committees or SLTs to select principals

x

  • Supporting the hiring of a DOE Ombudsperson to investigate and settle parent complaints

x

Do you have other proposals to provide a stronger parent voice and/or checks and balances in school governance?

Testing

Another important issue is standardized testing, test prep, and the use of test scores to evaluate schools, students, and teachers. What is your position on this matter? 

Would you support:

Yes

No

  • A teacher evaluation system not linked to test scores

x

  • Requiring that the Chancellor communicate to parents that they have a right to opt their children out of standardized testing without penalties to the students or their schools

x

  • Making admissions to all public schools based on more than test scores, including Gifted programs and the specialized high schools

x

Resources and equity

NYC schools have never received their fair share of funding from the state and many are still struggling with budgets below their Fair Student funding levels, despite surpluses at the state and city levels.  Class sizes have risen sharply, particularly in the early grades, where they remain at among the highest levels in more than 15 years.  At the same time, the NYC Chancellor has said that her main concern is that class sizes can be too small. A legal complaint has now been filed against the DOE with the state about its failure to reduce class size and comply with the Contracts for Excellence law. How would you go about guaranteeing the rights of all students and providing them with an equitable opportunity to learn?

More specifically would you:

Yes

No

  • Support full funding of schools at originally agreed upon CFE levels

x

  • Ensure that DOE comply with its original Contracts for Excellence class size reduction plan, to reduce class size in all grades

x

  • Require that NYC reduce class size, particularly in struggling schools

x

  • Support the creation of an office dedicated to school integration with a Deputy Chancellor whose sole responsibility is school desegregation and integration

x

  • Re-evaluate the school budgeting process, including Fair Student Funding formula, so that resources are distributed equitably and sufficiently among our schools

x

How would you ensure that children are provided with a well-rounded education, including art, music, science, and physical education, and how would you fund this?

I think its instrumental for students to receive a quality education that undeniably includes the arts, STEM, and physical education. In my time at the City Council I have allocated over $5 million to district schools for technology and capital improvements. This includes the creation of science labs, brand new media rooms with state of the art equipment, and funding for phase 1 for a gym in a school with cafegymatorium. I have advocated and fought hard for the expansion of CASA to more schools and more funding to support the program. Through Participatory Budgeting, schools have been active in attaining their vision for upgrades.  

When I got to Council, only five schools a year were allowed for the afterschool funding, and as of this budget cycle, we have included 13 schools. I have been as equitable as possible to allow for as many schools in my Council District to be allotted this opportunity.

I aim to continue to push for the expansions of these programs and support schools to the fullest extent.

How would you go about developing and supporting measures to attract and retain experienced and high-quality teachers?

To attract more high quality I would like to aid schools in providing all they need to succeed. I think we can attract high quality teachers if they feel they are supported by their leadership and also have the right resources like modern technology, adequate bandwidth, and upgraded facility. For example, with so many schools in my district focused on STEM education, the number one issue I hear from staff is not having  current technology and newest software. I want them to be excited about coming to school too and believe that we can retain great teachers if we offer them that level of support.

How would you ensure equitable distribution of resources so that every school has what it needs to provide a high quality education to all its students?

My first bill was an education bill that called on the DOE to report numbers on school populations to guidance counselor ration, plus indicate guidance counselors. I need the DOE to make data that speaks to these disparities public and take accountability. I would continue to work with my colleagues at the Council and some of our more dedicated representatives in Albany to demand our schools get their share of funds owed to them, and work with each school in my district (there are 42) to assess individual needs.

NYC is one of the most segregated school systems in the nation.  What are your plans for integrating our schools? Please be specific.

I think school integration is key, especially when we know that students learn and perform better in diverse settings. I believe that we need to devise a more democratic or community based process for how we approach integration and how we can quantify those goals to hold the DOE accountable.

DOE data reveal that more than 40 percent of special needs students in NYC are not receiving their full services or only partially receiving their mandated services or appropriate classroom placements.

How would you ensure that all students with disabilities receive their services more promptly?

I would work with families and parents to demand these services from the DOE and the City. My office recently helped a family receive funds that for a mandatory service their son wasnt receiving and I know how difficult that was. 40% is significant so I know it wont be an easy task, but I would work with my colleagues at the Progressive Caucus to make this a priority for the 2019 platform.

 

Any other comments on resources and/or equity?

School facilities

Overcrowding is a chronic and ever-worsening problem in NYC schools.  The city has underinvested in school facilities, resulting in most students attending schools in overcrowded and/or substandard conditions.  Expanded Pre-K, eliminating trailers, reducing class size, and implementing community schools with wrap-around services all require even more space. The Mayors plan to create hundreds of thousands of new market-rate and affordable housing will likely contribute to even more overcrowding. And yet the current capital plan does not have enough new seats to keep up with future enrollment growth, not to mention reducing class size according to DOEs own estimates.  

 

Do you support any of the following measures?  Please check all that apply.

Yes

No

  • Mandate that the city annually release transparent needs assessments for new school capacity that take into account current overcrowding, loss of seats through TCU removal and lapsed leases, and enrollment projections

X

  • Require that developers provide space for schools in overcrowded areas or pay impactfees into a fund for school construction.

x

  • Reform the zoning laws so that schools must be built along with new housing.

x

  • Fully fund the capital plan so that all the projected need for seats is funded

x

Do you have any other proposals to address school overcrowding?

My district, especially, is changing drastically day by day. Developments and building construction are saturating our neighborhoods. I dont face overcrowding issues in the majority of my schools, but I do know that the City needs to be better about the way they integrate school seats to new development. I would work to make sure that assessment is provided more comprehensively than through the traditional Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and include a community planning component.

Charter Schools and Privatization

Charter schools are growing fast and now take more than $1 billion from the DOEs budget and an increasing amount of space in our schools. There are also serious questions about whether they are complying with the law when it comes to providing due process for suspensions and students with disabilities, and enrolling and retaining equal numbers of high needs students.  

Would you:

Yes

No

  • Support the continued expansion of charter schools

x

  • Advocate for repealing the law requiring that NYC pay for charter school facilities or provide them with space inside DOE buildings

x

  • Enforce the provisions in the 2010 charter law that before charters are renewed or allowed to replicate, they must show theyve enrolled equal numbers of high needs students, i.e. ELLs, SWDs and free lunch students

x

  • Support measures that require that the State Education Department and/or SUNY post statistics on every charter schools suspension, enrollment and attrition rates, including for students in each of the high-needs categories

x

  • Support measures that require that charter schools be more transparent and post their board meeting times, board minutes, budgets etc.  

x

  • Oppose the Education Investment Tax Credit bill, which would award tax credits to wealthy donors who give to private and parochial schools  

x

There is also growing concern about the lack of transparency and number of contracts provided to for-profit vendors, and contracts awarded vendors with a history of corruption, abuse and/or mismanagement.

 

Would you:

Yes

No

  • Have the NYC Comptroller or his staff provide comments on contracts before they are approved by the PEP

x

  • Require more transparency for each proposed contract including the release of detailed information about each at least a month before the vote of the PEP

x

Any other comments on charters and/or privatization?

Open-ended questions 

Please summarize your record in public education as an individual, advocate or policymaker.

As a product of public school education, I know firsthand how inequities in school set my path for the future. I am deeply committed to closing the gap. In my capacity as Council Member I have demand that the DOE provide information on these shortfalls and work with my colleagues on legislation that promotes equity on those bills. Whether it s a bill to assess the DOEs policy on concentrating over the counterstudents in a handful of schools, or funding for young girls in sports versus funding for young boys in sports, my record speaks to my advocacy for a more just school system. I have allocated over $5 million in capital to district schools for technology and facility upgrades. I want to support schools and have worked hard to level out the playing field through the budget. As a member of the Budget and Negotiating Team I pushed for the expansion of afterschool programming through CASA, from five schools a year, to 13 this fiscal year.

Please describe the ways in which you have demonstrated responsiveness to parental or community concerns

I have always made myself a partner to parents in my community seeking to improving their schools. I co-hosted a Housing and Education forum to bring organizations and agencies to the table that provide services to families who I sat with everyday on the verge of being displaced. Gentrification does not only affect housing, it impacts our schools as well. I have mediated meetings with parents and principals when they felt their was an injustice, I have personally encouraged parents to join the CEC board.

What would be your top educational priorities if elected?

My top priorities would be: fiscal equity, school integration, and the expansion of community schools in my council district.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.