Ruben Diaz Jr.

haters gonna hate

New York

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.
New York

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

New York

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.