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Candidate Survey

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

Candidate full name

Pastor Khader El-Yateem

Website

https://www.elyateem2017.com/

Staff contact and e-mail

Kayla Santosuosso, Campaign Manager

Phone number

330-635-2110

Running for what office

Council Member for CD 43

 

 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?

As a father and public school parent, I strongly support a stronger parent voice 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 support increased funding for a robust and complete education for all of our students, regardless of income level, and include the above categories of art, music, science, and physical education. Funding needs must be addressed in part by Albany, I will advocate on behalf of students alongside my colleagues in the capital as the next Council Member from CD 43.

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

We must strengthen our education labor unions to ensure that educators have fair wages and benefits. No teacher should have to want for supplies or educational materials.

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 make sure that city government is responsive to the needs of educators and parents. We must increase funding for school resources so that we are not playing a zero sum game with providing a high quality education to students.

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

I support utilization of policies such as those found in controlled choice system. In order to address the racial (and therefore socio-economic) disparities in our schools we must seek creative solutions that do not shy away from changing the status quo.

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?

The recurring theme here is an underfunded and un-supported school system. I will fight to ensure students with special needs or living with disabilities receive full services and appropriate classroom placements. We need to increase accessibility in all aspects of education all over the five boroughs. This can be achieved through increased funding, mandated training for educators and staff, and a mechanism for communicating with parents on their needs and the shortcomings of the current system.

 

Any other comments on resources and/or equity?

School diversity is a serious issue facing NYC. I will seek to work with parents, advocacy groups, and educational institutions to address this issue with meaningful legislation to increase educational equity for communities of color and low-income families.

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

X

  • Require that developers provide space for schools in overcrowded areas or pay “impact” fees 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?

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

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 they’ve 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 school’s 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?

Privately managed charter schools are not “public” and we should ensure that our public schools are fully funded without diverting funds to charters.

Open-ended questions 

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

I am a father of four, and all of my children went to public school. My wife Grace is a UFT member and a school nurse. I am a 12-year member of community board 10, so I have worked with school administration to resolve conflicts with the community, or collaborate on programming.

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

I am a community leader who has worked with primarily immigrant families, and am often the first person they call if there is something they need with the community or school system. My capacity to work with disenfranchised communities and across language, race, and religious barriers is unique in my district.

What would be your top educational priorities if elected?

Addressing school diversity, increasing funding and reduced class size, and meeting the needs of students with special needs.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

As the husband of a public school nurse and the father of 4 public school children, I am deeply committed to supporting and strengthening our public education system, one that I have trusted to educate my own children.

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