The parent-led mayoral forum last night at Murry Bergtraum High School was terrific, with parents asking incisive yes/no questions, investigative reporter Juan Gonzalez doing inspired follow-up as only he knows how, and all the candidates giving thoughtful responses. Below is the livestream video; we will have sharper video uploaded next week, but the audio is quite clear.
The coalition of individuals and groups that put this together, which included Class Size Matters and NYC Kids PAC (the full list is on the flyer) asked some very challenging questions, and developed a scorecard by which the responses of the candidates could be marked off yes or no. Here is a pdf copy of the scorecard, with all the questions listed and how each of the candidates responded.
Or you can click on the images to the right and below.
Carrion, Thompson and Liu came late and so didn't have a chance to answer all the questions, so they are marked "L" for those questions. However, at the end of the forum, Juan Gonzalez requested that all the candidates to indicate their answers on their individual scorecards and sign them, so that we will have a record of what they promised to do should they be elected mayor.
An informal calculation made at the forum shows these results: Liu and Gronowicz got perfect scores of 100%, Salgado 87%, Albanese 73%, de Blasio 60%, Carrion 50%, and Thompson 33%. (I will update these scores when I receive copies of the signed responses from the candidates, hopefully with all the questions checked off one way or another. I will also post these documents here.)
The highlight (for me): All the candidates promised to commit to specific class size reduction goals by the end of their first term, and if necessary, to raise revenue to meet them. All the candidates also promised to stop sharing personal student information with inBloom and other corporations, without full parental notification and consent.
The most contentious issues -- predictably -- related to Mayoral control, governance and parent empowerment. Only Liu, Gronowicz and Salgado agreed to give up three of their appointments on the Panel for Education Policy to representatives who would be elected by parents, though Thompson said he would give up two of his seats. DeBlasio and Thompson also opposed giving Community Education Councils the authority to approve co-locations and school closings, though they said they would listen to CECs for advisory input. (DeBlasio explains his position at about 31 min. in on the video.)
Another contentious issue related to require charter schools that are housed in DOE facilities to pay rent; Albanese, Carrion and Thompson said they would not require this.
As to whether they would take away the school safety officers away from the jurisdiction of the police, Carrion, de Blasio, Salgado and Thompson were opposed. At about one hour into the video are explanations from de Blasio and Thompson about why they answered this way; Thompson said that police should still do the training though the principal should decide whether a student should be arrested.
But please watch the entire forum, and add your comments below. There are many interesting issues covered, including additional questions asked by Juan not included on the scorecards. For example, at 1:10 in, there is a discussion about the lack of diversity in the Bloomberg administration, as well as a critique of the decline of Black and Latino teachers in the public schools.
Video streaming by Ustream