Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Live tweeting Chancellor Carranza's testimony before the City Council today : how did he do?

The City Council Finance and Education Committees held a joint budget hearing today on the city's education budget.   The Council budget summary is here, which among other things, shows that next year the city is projected to spend $2.1B per year on charter schools, nearly 10% of the entire DOE budget.

It was the first Council hearing at which Chancellor Carranza testified.  Though I was disappointed that more of the questions weren't focused on the big picture of class size (how can you have equity or excellence without addressing this issue?), in response to a question from CM Treyger, Chancellor Carranza did say that he understood the importance of class size and school overcrowding in being able to deliver a quality education.  He recounted that as a teacher,  he knew he could do so much better for his students when he had a class of 20 to 25 instead of 45, which he had one year.

He made no promises to fully address either class size or overcrowding, however, and implied that these problems would have to wait for the state to increase its funding to the city -- which I think is a cop-out.  When de Blasio wanted to expand preK, he aggressively argued for a tax increase, which then Cuomo countered by offering him the funds instead.  Since his election the Mayor has never expressed the same interest in lowering class size, or indeed in any program to improve education for K12 students, either funded through a city tax surcharge or by aggressively advocating for it at the state level.  Councilmember Mark Gjonaj noted the disparity in the focus of the DOE in expanding preK vs addressing overcrowding for K12 students, in particular, in making enough space to eliminate trailers.

In response to a question from CM Barron,  Carranza forthrightly said he would do what he could to improve the admissions system at the specialized high schools, and to make them based upon multiple measures whether than a single standardized test.  He implied he knew that the city had that authority for at least some of the schools (actually this is true of four out of the seven specialized schools ). 

He ended by saying DOE should be celebrating its successful schools rather than allowing them to be denigrated, by corporate CEOs etc., and had seen some terrific teaching at Bed Stuy public schools, for example.

If so, as I tweeted below, they should be celebrating PS 25 in Bed Stuy -- which according to the DOE's own metrics, outperforms all but one charter school in the entire city, and all but three out of 633 public elementary schools,  rather than shutting it down.

In short, Carranza seems to be the smartest, most progressive and articulate Chancellor  in my nearly twenty years as a public school parent and advocate; as well as the most politically adept. Here are my tweets about today's hearings:

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