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UPDATE: Just received this e-mail from de Blasio's campaign signing up people for another weekend of action:
You're doing great.

You're on the phones, knocking doors, donating when and what you can -- and your hard work is making all the difference.

Election Day, November 5th, will be here before we know it. And if we're really going to change this city so that it works for every New Yorker, we have to keep it up for just a little bit longer.

Here's how you can do your part this weekend:

Change this City Weekend of Action! Find out where to meet your neighbors and let them know you'll be there:

Washington may be shut down, but Team de Blasio's working harder than ever for bold progressive change right here in New York City.

And if you can't be a part of the Weekend of Action in the field, you can still do your part to support a progressive vision right now by donating $5 to power this campaign through the end:

Just about three weeks left to change this city.

Win every day,


Campaign Manager
New Yorkers for de Blasio

You can click here to sign up for Weekend Of Action:

Preach it Bill:

Bill de Blasio vowed Wednesday to overhaul how children are chosen for New York City’s elite public high schools, saying the high-stakes admissions test should no longer be the only factor in the selection process.

Tackling an emotional issue for parents and schoolchildren across the city, the Democratic mayoral nominee blamed the reliance on the test for creating schools that he said did not reflect the city’s diversity.

Using the grueling two-hour test as the only basis for admissions creates a “rich-get-richer phenomenon,” because wealthy parents can afford expensive test preparations for their children, he said in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily News Editorial Board.

Although more than half of the city’s residents are black or Latino, just 12% of the students at the elite high schools — which include Stuyvesant High School, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech — were black or Latino last year.

And that was down from 14% the previous year.

“These schools are the academies for the next generation of leadership in all sectors of the city, and they have to reflect the city better,” de Blasio said. - New York Daily News, 10/10/13

de Blasio also had a few things to say about New York City's Housing Authority:

New York mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio ripped the “fundamental problem of management” at New York City Housing Authority on Wednesday and vowed to clean house if he’s elected.

In a sitdown with the Daily News Editorial Board, de Blasio blasted Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who he said has ignored scandalous conditions NYCHA’s 600,000 tenants have endured for most of the mayor’s 12 years in office.

“At minimum, as a way forward, there should be a mayoral-control mindset vis-à-vis public housing,” he said. “We’re going to have to rework the operational approach at NYCHA.”

First on his list is getting rid of NYCHA Chairman John Rhea, the former Lehman Brothers investment banker who had no public sector experience before Bloomberg appointed him in 2009.

“John Rhea was not the right person. He did not have background in running an agency like that,” de Blasio said. He promised to replace Rhea with “someone who has been deeply involved in housing issues in the public sector.” - New York Daily News, 10/10/13

And here's the latest ridiculous attack against de Blasio:

In an opinion piece published in this weekend’s edition of Hamodia, a prominent New York City-based Jewish newspaper, a writer compared the Democratic mayoral hopeful’s support for the leftist Sandinista movement to being a “Nazi sympathizer.”

“Imagine if an unrepentant Nazi Party sympathizer would be running for mayor of New York,” the writer, Dovid Margolin, theorized in his piece. “A product of the ideology that destroyed 25 million people within reach of City Hall would be unthinkable. Yet Bill de Blasio, a Marxist who has never repudiated those beliefs, will very likely be this city’s next mayor.”

Mr. Margolin was lashing out at Mr. de Blasio for participating in Nicaraguan revolutionary politics in his youth and for not formally denouncing the Sandinista regime opposed by the United States at the time. Mr. de Blasio also reportedly once described his political views as “democratic socialism” and frequently uses populist rhetoric while discussing growing income inequality across the five boroughs. - Politicker, 10/9/13

But don't worry, de Blasio is still kicking ass in the polls:

De Blasio, the city's public advocate, outpolled Lhota 67 percent to 23 percent among likely voters in the NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Thursday. Two percent of likely voters supported Independence Party nominee Adolfo Carrion and 1 percent backed another candidate. Seven percent of likely voters surveyed said they were undecided.

"It’s about as lopsided as you can envision," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

A majority of New York City voters wants a break from Mayor Bloomberg, with 66 percent of registered voters saying they want the city to move in a different direction, while 29 percent want his policies to continue.

According to the poll, most New Yorkers believe de Blasio is the man to bring about that change. His commanding lead has held steady since the September primary -- Marist's first general-election poll in mid-September showed de Blasio with a 43-point advantage. - NBC New York, 10/10/13

By the way, Lhota's been trying to pitch himself to the voters as a progressive:

But Mr. Lhota, who is now trailing Mr. de Blasio by a dominating 50 points in the polls, seemed to take a page from his opponent’s playbook, later describing himself as the race’s true progressive–at least when it comes to education–thanks to his support for charter schools.

“If you oppose charter schools and the programs and the opportunities that are available for minorities and inner city children, children of immigrants, you cannot call yourself a progressive,” Mr. Lhota told the crowd gathered in a Midtown hotel ballroom. “There is nothing more progressive in education reform today than the charter school movement throughout the United States.”

While Mr. de Basio has raised skepticism about privately run charter schools that share space in traditional public school buildings, Mr. Lhota accused the Democrat of turning “a blind eye” to many of the schools’ promising results and proposing “policies that I believe will end charter schools in the city.”

The GOP canddiate went on to argue that, other than his program to fund universal pre-K by taxing the rich, Mr. de Blasio’s education plans are far from ambitious. “My opponent is unfortunately for the same, status quo system that I believe is failing our children,” he said. “Extreme positions like this on education–it’s not progress.”

While Mr. Lhota announced a plan to allow people on public assistance to count time spent taking online courses toward work requirements, he spent most of his speech in trying to contrast himself with Mr. de Blasio using similarly critical lines. - Politicker, 10/8/13

But he's also still trying to appeal to his Tea Party base:

Republican New York City mayoral candidate Joe Lhota thinks New York City's gun control laws can amount to the "harassment"of gun owners.

"The city of New York, though, goes to an extreme with their-- bureaucracy is not even strong enough of a word--it's almost a level of harassment at a certain point, and it needs to change," Lhota said to a group of Staten Island Tea Party Republicans in April, as seen in video of the speech recently obtained by NY1. "There's something that should be fair and speedy about being able to get a gun permit," Lhota added.

Lhota's previously characterized the Tea Party event as a "huge, verbally violent discussion of gun control and what it means to New York City." - Huffington Post, 10/8/13

By the way, this is a really sweet story about how de Blasio fell in love with his wife:

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio kisses his wife Chirlane McCray after voting in the New York City mayoral primary on September 10, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. In recent polls by Quinnipiac University, de Blasio is now close to the 40 percent threshold he'd need to avoid a runoff in the Democratic primary.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
But this morning, during an appearance on W Radio, host Julio Sanchez Cristo asked Mr. de Blasio something new: whether he remembered any poems written by his wife, Chirlane McCray, whom he met while working for former Mayor David Dinkins. Ms. McCray, a former speechwriter and activist who is expected to play a prominent role in a hypothetical de Blasio administration, has penned numerous poems and essays. But Mr. de Blasio revealed that one–a “very, very powerful poem” entitled “I Used to Think”–was one of the reasons he fell for her.

As Mr. de Blasio explained, “It’s about the way she perceived herself growing up as a young African-American girl in a racist society. And it’s a very painful and challenging poem, but very beautiful.”

In the poem, Ms. McCray describes herself as “a Black girl/a nappy-headed, no-haired/fat-lipped/big-bottomed Black girl” who “used to run home crying/that I wanted to be light like my sisters.”

“I love her so deeply, and one of the things I love is that she, despite the difficulties she went through, is such a positive and hopeful person and such a creative person. And so that poem really was one of the things that made me fall in love with her,” Mr. de Blasio told the host. - Politicker, 10/9/13

Very sweet.  The election is November 5th.  If you would like to donate to or get involved with de Blasio's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by New York City, In Support of Labor and Unions, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 05:00:22 PM PDT

  •  Change the test if you want, but you need a test. (8+ / 0-)

    NYC's prestigious high schools won't be prestigious anymore if you put students into them randomly, which is the only constitutionally acceptable alternative to test-based admission.  

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 05:12:50 PM PDT

    •  Exactly what I was saying. (3+ / 0-)

      I get that tests as they are constructed might not measure things accurately (though I always aced the tests in grade school and I am latino) but at least they provide a compared metric in some way.

      I'm willing to hear new ideas on this, but we should examine them carefully.

      •  One of the flaws of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bluesheep, MNPundit, wintergreen8694

        having admission based solely on one test score is that it is not necessarily indicative of how good a student someone is. A student can have lousy grades and attendance but do well on the test and qualify for a spot.  I also know excellent students who end up floundering at specialized schools because they are such pressure cookers.

        •  Absolutely correct (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That's why I'm willing to listen to ideas to determine which students are willing and capable of learning and by what methods.

          If there are capable students that aren't getting in, we should look at how to get them in. Testing should just be one of many methods of assessment.

          •  I commented below but I will reiterate (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I don't know how familiar you are with the process but in addition to applying to the specialized high schools, students can rank up to 12 choices in order of preference.  The schools rank the students.  Then there is some mysterious algorithm based on the medical residency matching process. Every year of the 70,000-80,000 students who apply, ten percent receive no match. That is a nightmare and can happen to the best of students.

            DeBlasio can focus on the selective screened schools which he would have control over as mayor.

            I would like to see more comprehensive schools that offer a variety of courses and accommodate different abilities. Many students are locked out of AP courses or they are not available.  Manhattan students can easily take College Now courses to offset this but if you are attending high school in Staten Island or the far reaches of Queens, this may not be a viable option.

  •  What would you recommend? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, usa4jer

    Personally I never would be able to get into an elite school, not even now. I don't have the attention span, and I just don't have the breadth of knowledge necessary to pass a test like that.

    However testing does seem like the fairest way of seeing who can get into an elite school. Granted that there are people who can afford prep classes and tutors, while lower income families can't; and that is a problem, but how else would you propose we find the best and the brightest to send to these schools. I really don't know myself, education isn't my field.

    “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― G.K. Chesterton

    by bayushisan on Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 05:18:28 PM PDT

  •  I think the SHSAT and admission criteria (0+ / 0-)

    is a state issue. If de Blasio wants to widen access to high schools then maybe his DOE should focus on the admission criteria for the elite high schools such as Beacon, Bard, Millenium, ElRo, Baruch, etc.  These are schools where thousands apply but only a couple hundred are accepted. I say have a true lottery.

    It is really difficult to discuss with non NYers because the application and admission process is like no other.  De Blasio and I are in the same district and we do not have zoned middle or high schools. My eldest attended MS 51 with de Blasio's kid. Admission was based on attendance, punctuality, fourth grade standardized test scores, and for some, an audition. Bill's kid and mine went on to Beacon with similar admission criteria except this time they and their peers made sure to do well and be 7th grade junior merit scholars.  

  •  I tried to link to DOE admission process (0+ / 0-)

    The bottom line is students also need adults who can help navigate the system along with strong guidance counselors.  There are schools that give brownie points if prospective students and parents attend an open house. Obviously, this favors parents who have flexible schedules. The process is a full time job.  I tried to link an overview of the process from the NYC DOE website but was unable to do so.

    As for the specialized schools, Stuy is 72% Asian and Tech is 60% Asian.  I think there is an Asian community test prep network and the kids start practicing at a young age.

    I think if de Blasio really wanted to make high quality education accessible he would focus on the "elite" schools. This would be within his control more so than the specialized high schools. If he did shake things up, I would need a Costco size bag of popcorn.

  •  It's not just rich kids getting in... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fisher1028, Justanothernyer, MGross

    That's a simple talking point from the side who is against the tests. Over 60% of the students at Brooklyn Tech are Title 1 kids. At Stuy, it's over 30%. Lots of poor students are getting in. They just happen to be Asian American.

    I am actually working on a new documentary on this subject. Feel free to follow us on facebook at:

    Or support our kickstarter campaign. ;)

  •  Take poor Black and Hispanic kids who barely miss (0+ / 0-)

    passing the tests and give them an extra year of solid middle school, a redshirt year, and guarantee them slots provided they significantly progress.

    Or identify these candidates by 6th grade and get them into solid middle schools and funnel them into the specialized schools if they keep working at it.

    Some systematic program to take kids who are really trying

    75% of NYC eight graders aren't at grade level (NAEP).  So we're just trying identify kids among the remaining 25% who are Black or Hispanic and will benefit from one solid boost.

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