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Candidate Survey

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

Candidate full name

Mary Silver

Website

www.marysilvernyc.com

Staff contact and e-mail

Kelsey Hamilton, kelsey@marysilvernyc.com

Phone number

603-359-0066

Running for what office

City Council – District 2

 

 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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

  • Allowing school based committees or SLTs to select principals

Yes

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

Yes

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

As someone who has sat on the CEC, and been frustrated myself, I am willing to work with parents on any ideas that will bring greater accountability and transparency to the process.

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

Yes

  • 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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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?

The funding of art, music, science, and physical education should not be considered “extra” in our public school system, it should be required. These programs should have priority funding over other less necessary City programs.

I would also make it a priority to evaluate the school budgeting system. Currently the system is too restrictive and forces school leaders to make tough choices on staffing needs, program offerings, and other basic resources.

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

We need to remove the salary responsibility from school budgets so that principals do not have to chose between retaining an experienced, but more highly compensated teacher, or hiring two inexperienced, but less well compensated teachers.

Like any industry, we need to pay professionals what they deserve and provide them with the professional development necessary to excel.

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?

We need to revisit the current fair student funding structure, which creates winners and losers among different schools. We need to provide schools with the funding necessary to address all students 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 would support rezoning efforts to ensure that schools reflect their school district, and do not unfairly segregate children of color, English as a second language learners, and high-poverty children.

I would also examine the screening process for our public high schools. If the application process is segregating kids along race and socio-economic status, then they are not serving the community at large.

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?

There needs to be specific personnel responsible for ensuring that special needs children are receiving the services they need. Many parents currently feel lost and ignored by their schools, and they need someone who is directly responsible for helping them navigate the system.

 

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 Mayor’s 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 DOE’s 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

Yes

  • Require that developers provide space for schools in overcrowded areas or pay “impact” fees into a fund for school construction.

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

Do you have any other proposals to address school overcrowding?

We must exact more from real estate developers who are increasing the needs of a community, and contributing nothing to the solution.

Charter Schools and Privatization

Charter schools are growing fast and now take more than $1 billion from the DOE’s 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

No

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

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

Yes

  • 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

Yes

Any other comments on charters and/or privatization?

Open-ended questions 

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

Served as class mom, PTA president, School Leadership Team member, member of the Community Education Council for District 2, currently serve on Community Board 6.

Raised over $3 million in funding for NYC public schools, helped identify new school sites to ease overcrowding, and helped create more after school programs for public school children.

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

At Baruch College Campus High School, I reconnected the school with its links to Baruch College itself.

After a devastating school flood, I ensured that the school was environmentally sound and mold free before allowing students to return, despite DOE’s statements to the contrary.

What would be your top educational priorities if elected?

Reduce class size by identifying new school sites and utilizing CFE funds intended for this purpose. Promoting community based plans for desegregation in our schools, such as the District 1 CEC SIPP grant. Advocating for necessary funding levels to ensure that every school is adequately funded.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

As the next City Council Member, public education will be my number one priority every single day in office. Too many elected officials pay lip service to education, and fail to act in any concrete way. Our public schools need a champion in City Hall, and I hope to be that person.

I am endorsed by the CSA (The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the union representing our school leaders).

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