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Ruben Diaz Jr.
haters gonna hate
June 29, 2017
Bronx borough president to high school grads: ‘Start breaking the mold of what the face of techies look like’
The tech industry in New York City has a diversity problem. The Bronx Academy for Software Engineering was launched to help solve it.
October 1, 2013
Bronx BP education liaison suspended for using position for personal gain
Erica Veras, an education and community liaison in the office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., tried to use her position to help her…
December 20, 2012
Newest PEP member could face a vote on closing son's school
Robert Powell is Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s choice to represent him on the Panel for Educational Policy. The latest addition to the citywide school board responsible for signing off on school closures has a child at a school that could be on the chopping block this year. Robert Powell is replacing Wilfredo Pagan as Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s pick for the Panel for Educational Policy, starting with tonight's meeting in Manhattan. Pagan served on the board, which is controlled by the mayor, for just a year. Powell attended city schools, then sent six children to them, according to a press release Diaz's office put out today. One of his children currently attends Herbert H. Lehman High School, which last month was told for the third time in a year that its performance is so weak that it might be closed. Powell has a long history of participating in school governance.
October 14, 2011
Mayoral control "trial," Bronx schools summit set for Saturday
A week after hundreds of its members who worked in schools were laid off, the DC-37 union is hosting a trial of the Department of Education. The Coalition for Public Education, a local activist group, organized the trial, to be held Saturday at DC 37's downtown headquarters, to air concerns about public education under mayoral control. Already more than 100 parents, teachers, students, and community members have signed up to testify, according to Akinlabi Mackall. The event is meant to resemble Panel for Educational Policy meetings' public comments segment, which frequently attract many people but rarely influence the panel's decisions, said Mackall, the father of a public school graduate. “The PEP and the mayor have pretty much turned a deaf ear to the voices of teachers and students," he said. “We’ve seen people be very eloquent and very passionate, but then there’s just a rubber-stamp response.” He said CPE would record the testimonies and present them to state lawmakers. The group will also use the complaints as a blueprint for organizing future meetings around issues that trial participants raise, he said. Some of the same criticisms are likely to arise at a second education event being held Saturday 12 miles north, at Lehman College, where Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is convening a borough-wide education summit.
October 4, 2011
Despite price tag, a charter school finds perks in private space
A picture taken by Civic Builders days after ground broke on construction in June 2010; The school was completed on Aug. 18 this year. By the time Hyde Leadership Charter School expanded into high school grades three years ago, overcrowding at its co-located Department of Education building had become severe. Limited to two floors for over 700 students, classes were held in hallways and high school students complained of filthy conditions in the bathroom they had to share with elementary students. "It was terrible," said Dominic Batista, a junior. "It was like a jail." Rather than jockey for more space in an increasingly crowded public school system, the growing school took a road less traveled for a charter school in New York City. Keeping its elementary and middle school at P.S. 92, Hyde developed a private facility for its high school just down the road on Hunts Point Avenue in the south Bronx. Today, the gleaming 30,000 square foot building was on display at an official ribbon-cutting ceremony with elected officials and community members. Inside the auditorium – which splits time as a gymnasium and cafeteria – Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. recalled how prostitutes and arson used to dominate this stretch of Hunts Point Avenue in the South Bronx. Hyde Leadership, he said, was an example of how the area, still the nation's poorest congressional district, was turning a corner. The facility was developed and is now managed by Civic Builders, the nonprofit real estate developer for charter schools. The group bought the property in 2010 with lending help from Goldman Sachs and the Low Income Investment Fund. The price for giving up rent-free public space – about $1 million more per year – was worth it, said Celia Sosa, the school's director.
July 26, 2011
After rocky year, DOE replaces head of family engagement office
After less than a year on the job, Ojeda Hall, the director of the troubled office that oversaw this year’s botched parent leader elections, is out. The Department of Education announced today that Jesse Mojica, head policy analyst for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., will replace Hall as head of the Office of Family Information and Action next month. The position is also being promoted, so that Mojica will also be a member of Chancellor Dennis Walcott's cabinet of advisors. Mojica will make $138,000 a year, compared to Hall's $115,000 annual salary. Walcott’s decision to bring on board the education point person of a critic of the city’s education policies comes after a disastrous spring for the long-beleaguered family engagement office. Community Education Council elections were problematic from the start, and even on a delayed timetable elicited few candidates and votes. Some parents charged that the botched election process symbolized of the Bloomberg administration's dismissive attitude toward parent engagement. Walcott also expressed dissatisfaction with the process, but was previously unwavering in his support for Hall. Today, Walcott praised Hall but said he hoped that changes at OFIA would improve the relationship between the DOE and public school parents.
October 21, 2010
Bronx borough prez sends familiar face to citywide school board
The Panel for Educational Policy has a new Bronx borough representative, and she'll be a familiar face for many city officials. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has appointed Monica Major to the board, Diaz's office announced today. Major is the current vice president — and former president — of Community Education Council 11, one of the Bronx's parent committees. She was also a member of the Parent Commission on Mayoral Control, a group that advocated last year for reducing the mayor's power over the PEP, which acts as the citywide school board. Major replaces Anna Santos, who has served as the Bronx representative since February 2009. Last year, Santos emerged as one of the city's most outspoken critics on the board, alongside Manhattan representative Patrick Sullivan. It's not clear why Santos is leaving. Major is likely to continue the trend of opposition to many city policies that come up for approval. As part of the Parent Commission on Mayoral Control, Major proposed to reduce the number of mayoral appointees on the panel to three, and add six parent representatives to the board. Instead, the school governance legislation that Albany passed provided for eight mayoral appointees and one from each borough president, effectively guaranteeing that the board will approve city initiatives.
September 13, 2010
Bronx prez: NY's former ed commissioner should be grilled
In the wake of new evidence that New York State's standardized tests have become easier to pass, education officials and state legislators have focused on moving on and improving the exams. But Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. would like to revisit the past. In a letter to Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, who chairs the State Senate's education committee, Diaz demanded that Oppenheimer call State Education Commissioner Richard Mills in to testify at hearings about the exams. Mills oversaw the State Education Department for 14 years and retired in 2009. "Many of the issues occurred under his watch and he has a responsibility to answer the many questions that these recent results have raised," Diaz wrote. Oppenheimer has already said she plans to hold hearings in Manhattan that will focus on the now-lowered passing rates and re-calibrated proficiency standards, but she told the New York Post that she doesn't want to drag Mills to the witness stand. "'I see no value in it," she said. "He did what was best back then."
May 17, 2010
Bronx president urges no vote on teacher recruitment contract
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called on the citywide school board to postpone or vote down a contract that would pay an outside group to recruit new teachers, saying today that it "does not make any sense" with impending layoffs. The contract, which the Panel for Educational Policy will vote on at tomorrow's meeting, would pay The New Teacher Project a maximum of $4.9 million to recruit and train New York City Teaching Fellows. In a statement sent to reporters, Diaz said the money should be used to stave off layoffs rather than bring in new teachers. If Diaz's appointee votes against the contract, she'll likely be joined by panel member Patrick Sullivan, who criticized the contract in the Daily News. But Department of Education officials have said that new teachers will be needed to fill vacancies in areas like science and special education regardless of layoffs. To meet this anticipated need, the roughly 450 Teaching Fellows who will enter the job market this summer will only be certified in either of those two subjects.
February 2, 2010
After years of lobbying, a Bronx high school scores a library
PHOTO: Grace TatterPrincipal Edward Tom unveiled the school's new library, which came after two years of lobbying for one. When School Construction Authority officials first stepped foot in the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics to build a $1.1 million library, Principal Edward Tom had some specific instructions. "I told them not to think about high school libraries," Tom said at a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the school today. "I told them: 'Think Starbucks.'" That directive, and SCA's apparent willingness to oblige, have made their mark. Along with having couches and frosted glass, the library's walls are cappuccino-colored, the floor tiles look like they were dipped in half-and-half, and the bookshelves and chairs are a dark mocha. Funded by donations from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. ($660,000), and City Councilwoman Helen Foster ($440,000), the library is also outfitted with desktop computers, printers, and a SMART Board. The one thing it's missing — a librarian — is in the planning stages, a school official said.
July 16, 2009
Fernandez: More city grads lacked basic skills under Bloomberg
Dolores Fernandez, the Bronx's appointee to the re-formed Board of Education, appearing on BronxTalk. Graduates of the city's public high schools are falling so behind in reading and math that a community college remediation program doubled in size between 1998 and 2008, the college's former president said this week. Dolores Fernandez, who resigned from Hostos Community College last year is now serving as the Bronx borough president's appointee to the re-formed Board of Education, made the remarks in an interview on a Bronx television news program, BronxTalk. "I would have loved for the New York City public schools to put my remediation programs out of business, because that would mean that every kid graduating out of the schools could read, write, and do math," Fernandez said. Fernandez said that a hiking up of standards at CUNY's four-year colleges played some part in the growth of Hostos's remediation program. "But then you still have the regular group of kids who just are coming to us in need of a GED diploma, because they haven't graduated from the public schools, and when we get them, we're basically teaching them reading, writing, and math — I mean, basic levels," she said. The gloomy picture challenges Bloomberg's own claims about the public schools, which state figures show now graduate far more students since 2002. But Fernandez said she does not trust these figures as a fair picture of what is really happening, especially for the poor Latino community she served at Hostos Community College. You can watch the interview in the full two parts below. UPDATE: Department of Education spokesman Andrew Jacob points out in the comments section that a growing remediation program does not mean that more city students are struggling. His argument: the size of the program doesn’t tell you anything about the percentage of graduates who required remediation, because the number of public school graduates enrolling at CUNY community colleges has risen dramatically in recent years–70% between 2002 and 2008. Among Hispanic public school graduates, enrollment doubled over that same time period. With this many more students enrolling, of course the remediation program would expand, even if the percentage of graduates needing remediation fell. And, in fact, that percentage has fallen across all CUNY community colleges, from 82 percent in 2002 to 74 percent in 2008. Among all CUNY colleges, the remediation rate for public school graduates has fallen from 58% to 51%.
everything old is new again
July 1, 2009
In 9-minute meeting, reborn Board of Ed endorses Klein and mayoral control, and is gone ’til September
This piece was reported by Philissa Cramer and Anna Phillips. The mayor’s top education aide is the new president of the Board of Education, Joel…
June 30, 2009
Theoretical Board of Ed that may exist tomorrow gets 1st member
<em>Courtesy of the Bronx borough president's office</em> No one can accuse Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. of being unprepared for the possibility that mayoral control will expire tonight. Diaz just named his potential appointee to the theoretical Board of Education. That person is Dr. Dolores Fernandez, a professor of urban education at CUNY's Graduate Center who retired as president of Hostos Community College in 2008. Fernandez's appointment will become effective at midnight tonight if the 2002 mayoral control law expires and the Senate does not pass a law to replace it. Diaz said in a statement today that he is "a supporter of some form of mayoral control." Asked if Diaz would recommend that his appointee to the board vote to retain Joel Klein as chancellor, John DeSio, a spokesman for the borough president, would not comment yesterday. "He has mixed opinions on the chancellor," DeSio said. Fernandez could not immediately be reached for comment. In a release put out by Diaz's office, she said: "For me, it is an honor to be thought of by Borough President Diaz to represent The Bronx on the Board of Education. I look forward to serving our borough, and its children, in an admirable and professional way." Between 1988 and 1990, Fernandez was deputy chancellor for instruction and development for the Board of Education. She served under chancellor Richard Green, the system's first black chancellor, who died suddenly a year into his tenure of an asthma attack, leaving the school system in disarray. Fernandez has a Master's in Education and a professional diploma in Educational Administration. The full press release follows.
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