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

Justin Brannan

Website

www.Justin2017.com

Staff contact and e-mail

Luke Strong Lukestrong2004@gmail.com (917) 922-1937

Phone number

(718) 748-0200

Running for what office

43rd City Council District

 

 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

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

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

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

  • 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

  • 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?

We need to strengthen CECs in NYC. They need to have more responsibility in the process of running the city’s school districts. They should have a say in school’s curriculum as well as a larger budget. With that larger budget they can plan more events and educational sessions with the PTA’s in their districts.

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 understand how much after school programs and a well rounded education can affect a student’s life. My wife and I own an art school for kids, we saw that art education was being stripped from so many schools and we knew how valuable it is. Numerous studies have shown that the a well rounded education makes for better students.

We need to expand and fully fund after-school programs for all students. This will involve raising Education budget but it is worth it. Students that have after-school programs perform better in school. We need to expand services provided by our schools not cut them. Education is the key to future prosperity and we need to ensure that we teach our children everything including the Arts.

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

To attract and maintain high-quality teachers we need to pay competitive salaries. We need to incentivize teachers also to teach in underserved areas of poverty. The strain that children go through in these areas should be relieved in schools not made worse with high teacher turnover.

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?

As a city councilman I will fight to make sure that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s lawsuit and verdict are seen thru and that NYC get’s it’s fair share from Albany. A quality education is enshrined in our state constitution and I will advocate that the tenants of the CFE’s lawsuit are upheld.

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

As the former Deputy Director for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the NYC Department of Education, I was at the epicenter of many conversations and planning sessions around developing a suite of strategies to promote greater student diversity. In addition, I worked closely under Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack on several specific initiatives to increase the diversity of classrooms from pre-K through 12th grade. Everyone benefits from learning environments that reflect the diversity of New York City and we need to continue working towards that reality.

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 believe that every New York City child deserves a quality education. It's a right enshrined in our state constitution and confirmed by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. But more than ten years after CFE was settled, NYC public schools are still not getting their fair share from Albany. You can count on me to stand up and fight for public school students and the funding schools deserve.

 

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

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?

This is a very pressing problem in the council district I hope to represent. We need to make sure that all new open public land is used at least partially for school construction. The schools in my district are all around 150% of capacity. We need more schools in this district.

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?

Open-ended questions 

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

I was proud to serve as the Deputy Executive Director for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the New York City Department of Education. Most notably, I helped oversee the expansion of Pre-K for all from 20,000 to 70,000 students citywide in addition to the rollout of the Mayor de Blasio’s Community Schools Initiative which is a holistic approach to learning that supports the social, emotional, physical as well as academic needs of students.

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

I have found that in 2017 you must bring local government to the people and not vice versa. To that end, I became deeply involved in many social media networks and groups where parents - especially young parents - congregate. I served as a liaison and resource for them however I could and helped them with everything from getting speed bumps installed on busy streets near schools to helping the parents of a special needs child navigate the byzantine bureaucracy of the Dept of Education.

What would be your top educational priorities if elected?

I would fight for expansion of after-school programs. I will also fight for the construction of more schools in my district to combat the overcrowding.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

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