Weekly Round-Up: August 4th, 2014

Housing for Homeless Families:

  • The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) held a meeting on Friday, July 25 to discuss moving about 750 homeless families to the head of the list for housing placement. This will cause the families to move ahead of many domestic violence victims already on the list. On its website, NYCHA has application information for need-based housing; N-1 is priority for victims of domestic violence and lists the forms and steps necessary for domestic violence victims to obtain priority housing.
  • Prior to 2005, NYCHA set aside about 3,000 homes for homeless families, but this practice was terminated when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to decrease the agency’s waiting list. There are currently about 210,000 people on the waiting list for NYCHA Housing.
  • Some City Council members and the Coalition for the Homeless petitioned NYCHA to reserve more housing for homeless families as the number of homeless families is on the rise. According to an article in the Daily News, as of Wednesday, “54,700 people were in city shelters, including 11,400 families with 23,600 kids.” To read the rest of the Daily News article, please click here.

 

Guns and Domestic Violence:

  • A new ad funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group created by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, tackles the increasing correlation between guns and domestic violence. The ad depicts a man violently knocking on a woman’s door as she calls 911, telling the operator that she has a restraining order. He kicks in the door and goes to grab their son despite the mother’s plea not to take him. The two struggle and the man takes out a gun and shoots the woman.
  • In a study conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety, the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increased the risk of murder by 500%. In 2011, 53% of women murdered by guns were killed by intimate partners or family members. The study calls for stricter laws prohibiting domestic violence offenders from being able to obtain new guns or keep their guns if convicted of any crimes of domestic violence. The ad is in support of proposed federal legislation S.1290 – Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2013, which looks to extend the types of domestic relationships to include dating partners and expand the crimes that would prohibit the purchase of a firearm by a domestic violence offender to certain misdemeanors.

 

Teacher Tenure

  • There has been much debate regarding teacher tenure in New York but ever since a California Judge ruled that teacher tenure laws “deprived students of their right to an education under the State Constitution and violated their civil rights,” the conversations have intensified.  Here in New York, the teacher tenure laws have been facing much scrutiny, and two new lawsuits have been filed challenging teacher tenure laws.
  • Those against teacher tenure argue that the practice of granting a teacher job security after only three years of probation is negatively impacting students as this is simply not enough time to assess a teacher’s abilities.  Also, many of the lower performing teachers are placed in underserved schools.  Furthermore, when there is a disciplinary proceeding brought against a teacher, it is very difficult to have a teacher fired.  The process is long, and it rarely leads to an official dismissal.  Critics also argue that the practice of firing newer teachers during lay offs while keeping teachers who have been employed at a school for longer, just because of seniority, is a poor practice.
  • The United Federation of Teachers has responded to these claims by stating that there is in fact a way to fire teachers.  The procedure currently in place provides safeguards for teachers by preventing them from being fired unjustly.  Additionally, the UFT stated that most of the claims brought against teachers are dealt with in a timely manner.   To see more about this, please click here.  (New York Times)
  • For the California decision, click here.  For the new New York lawsuits, click here and here.

 

Universal Pre-K

  • One of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s biggest campaign initiatives was universal full-day pre-k, and the legislation was passed in March 2014. Research shows that early childhood education can play an essential role in closing the achievement gap between students of differing socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • In just a few short months, Mayor de Blasio has been working to expand the existing program to serve more than 53,000 students in the 2014-2015 school year, with 33,000 seats in community centers and more than 20,000 seats in district programs.  Advertisements for universal pre-k have come in the form of television commercials, newspaper and subway ads, and there have been other community outreach initiatives.
  • As the summer comes to a close, and the upcoming academic year looms, the deadline to enroll children in preschool is fast approaching.  Not all of the seats have been spoken for yet.  Some parents are still unaware of the program, even though it was so widely publicized.  Some parents incorrectly fear that enrolling their child in preschool will eventually lead to their immigration status being unveiled.   The first day of school is September 4, 2014.  According to the Wall Street Journal, while many district preschools were full by June, it seems there may still be many spots available in the more than 1,000 community sites. Specific enrollment numbers for those sites are not yet available. To read more about this, please click here. (Wall Street Journal)