Each month Senator Krueger puts out a Free Events List to help people take advantage of the many wonderful and FREE events in the 26th District and surrounding areas in New York City.
In honor of Earth Day, State Senator Liz Krueger, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh launched a Statewide campaign to end government use of Styrofoam. The campaign kicked off with an early morning rally at Earth School, a Manhattan public school, and featured teachers, parents and students, all committed to ending the use of Styrofoam.
The urbancanvas Design Competition is an innovative contest to develop creative artwork for construction fences, sidewalk sheds, supported scaffolds and cocoons in New York City. The designs will be used for these different types of temporary protective structures located on City-owned property.
Senator Liz Krueger joined a coalition of local, State and National leaders, who were brought together by Iran180, to demand that Iran immediately stop the production of nuclear weapons and put an end to the atrocities committed against human rights.
With the UN in the background, the group of leaders stood united in declaring that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s message of hate will not be tolerated.
In September, I hosted an Education Forum that provided an opportunity for community members to hear from State Education Commissioner David Steiner and a variety of other education policy experts about New York State’s goals for public education and what we believe an educated person should be. I held this presentation because I have been struck by the lack of substantive discussion about what our real goals are when we all argue about how to best improve education. Questions about which qualities make the most effective teachers, the proper role of testing in encouraging student improvement, and the effectiveness of public versus charter schools as alternative models for improving education, are just some of the many topics discussed. In addition to Commissioner Steiner, the panel included Clara Hemphill from InsideSchools.org, which offers independent reviews of New York City public schools, and Dr. Stephan Brumberg, Professor of Education at Brooklyn College.
There were a number of key insights that I believe came out of the discussion. The most extensive discussion of the evening had to do with the role of testing. While the panelists emphasized different points regarding testing as an evaluative tool, there was general agreement that we have not found the right way to use tests. Although testing is important as a tool it has become an end in itself, not just a means to an end, with teachers and students feeling that success or failure is measured just by test scores and that if it isn’t going to be on the test… it’s not worth teaching or learning.
Why does this happen? I think two key explanations emerged from the panel. First, there is an understandable and justifiable desire to measure outcomes. Second, and less justifiable perhaps, is that testing is a relatively easy education technique, particularly when relying on multiple choice tests that have clear right and wrong answers and can be quickly graded.
The problem is that not everything we need to teach children in order to create educated citizens is measurable by a multiple choice test – or even by more ambitious testing mechanisms. So the first thing we need to do is determine what it is we want to be teaching – we need a curriculum. However, a major problem is that too often the tests become the curriculum.
According to Commissioner Steiner, an educated citizen is “someone who is not a complete bore to themselves.” Or, someone who has a store of experiences that can occupy and entertain his/her mind. While this is an admirable goal, I think the definition should include something about imparting the skills students will need to succeed as adults in the modern economy.
Many of the skills for both of these definitions are easy to measure by tests – factual knowledge, reading comprehension and the like. But others are not so easy to turn into right and wrong answers – skills such as judgment, creativity and interpretation. And maximizing the ability of teachers to impart these skills also involves giving teachers the freedom to be flexible in their approach to education and relate to student as individuals, something that a test-centered approach to education often undermines.
The discussion of testing was related to a broader discussion of educational goals, which identified another problem with much of our education: we don’t start with the goals and work backwards. So, just as we need to design tests around curriculum and educational goals, and not the other way around, our educational system in general needs to be “backward engineered,” as Commissioner Steiner put it. We need to start with where we want students to be when they graduate high school and design our educational system by working backward all the way to pre-K.
Currently, educational goals tend to be set by focusing on what should be imparted in a given year, rather than starting with this ultimate outcome.
I left the forum with a sense that there are some clear paths we can take to improve education, regardless of the financial constraints we may find ourselves in. Of course change is hard, and often undermined by institutional and political realities. But I know I will be drawing on the discussions at this very informative forum as I think about what decisions the State should be making to encourage the implementation of changes that will allow our public education system to do a better job of creating educated citizens well prepared to succeed.
Video from the event:
By Cara Matthews
Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Senate Democrats, who most likely will be in the minority come January, are urging the Senate to pass reform bills at the start of the new session next month. Before the November election, 53 of 62 members of the incoming Senate signed a pledge proposed by Koch’s New York Uprising group to support non-partisan redistricting, stronger ethics and disclosure laws and taking the politics out of the state budget process.
(The Court of Appeals heard a case today in which Nassau County Sen. Craig Johnson, a Democrat, wants a hand recount of the ballots. He lost to his GOP opponent. If the loss stands, Republicans will have a 32-30 advantage. If not, there will be a 31-31 split.)
Senate Democrats unveiled a package of bills that would accomplish those things at a news conference on the steps of New York City Hall. Three are ethics bills, three are about the budget process and would set up a non-partisan Legislative Budget Office, and one is on redistricting, which occurs every 10 years based on new census numbers.
The legislation has to be passed in 2011, Koch said in a statement. “I will be working with the members of the legislature on a bipartisan basis to make that all come about,” he said.
Senator Liz Krueger joined other leaders in condemning disparaging remarks made by Carl Paladino that indicate he would not support abortion even in instances of rape and incest. As said in the letter, “Carl Paladino has taken a heartless stand against the health and well-being of the women of this state without care or compassion — even for those who have been victims of sexual assault.”
Today, Senator Liz Krueger hosted the first portion of a five-part discussion for caregivers and the older people in their lives. During this first session, “Planning Ahead,” presenters addressed community services and how to determine if a Senior needs home care assistance. The session included a keynote address by Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging and Caroline Rosenthal Gelman, Associate Professor at Hunter College School of Social Work. View the presentation provided by Caroline Rosenthal Gelman here .
The second session, to be held on Thursday, December 16th, will address “Aging in Place: Is it Right for Everyone?”
Gustavo Rivera Picks Up Nine Progressive Electeds
A slew of progressive elected officials announced their support today for Gustavo Rivera, who is challenging Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. in the Bronx.
Least surprising might be Krueger, whose parents, husband, and campaign committee have been among Rivera’s biggest donors. “I would be proud to serve alongside Gustavo Rivera in the State Senate,” Krueger said in the statement. “Over the last decade I have seen Gustavo grow as a progressive leader in his community and I have no doubt that he will serve his constituents in the 33rd District with the strength and integrity that they deserve.”