Bklyn Lawmaker Roundup Dec. 16

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Felder Pulls Plug On Controversial School Bill

Sen. Simcha Felder
Sen. Simcha Felder

Borough Park Sen. Simcha Felder is strongly reconsidering the re-introduction of a bill that would allow use of multiple criteria instead of the current specialized high school entrance exam to get into the city’s most elite public academic schools, Kings County Politics has learned.

While the city has control over entrance criteria of most of its public schools, the state has control over its three top magnet schools – Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech.

The issue has been the subject of controversy with the de Blasio administration and many progressive lawmakers in both city and state government favoring a change to multiple criteria to add more diversity to the schools, which are currently largely white and Asian.

But a coalition of alumni groups representing 120,000 graduates of these schools feels the answer is stronger outreach regarding advanced preparation for the entrance exams and better schools in communities of color.

In the last legislative session, Assemblymember Karim Camara introduced a bill that would change entrance into these schools from one specialized entrance exam into multiple criteria.

Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with Republicans, also chairs the senate’s subcommittee on New York City Education. He introduced the bill on the senate side, and his support is crucial to any chance of getting it passed through the senate.

Assemblyman Karim Camara
Assemblyman Karim Camara

Camara, chair of the Assembly’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, said there has been opposition to the bill among some Asian groups, but it’s not about reducing the number of Asians at these schools but about adding the chances of all outstanding students to gain entrance to the schools.

There is overwhelming evidence that one cannot accurately identify merit through a single specialized test and that merit for entrance requires multiple measures, he said.

A source very close to Felder said since introducing the bill he’s had a change of heart after further studying the issue.

Bklyn Lawmakers call for Better A and C train service

Several Brooklyn lawmakers – many from Central Brooklyn – sent a letter to the MTA pushing for improvements to A and C train service.

Among the improvements the lawmakers want is adding more morning rush hour service, repairing dilapidated stations, and installing rider-friendly improvements like working audio announcements and visual countdown clocks.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said, “The riders of north Brooklyn deserve reliable, high-quality subway service, and I know that we can do better on the A and C lines. These communities are facing issues from overcrowded trains to stations and equipment in serious need of renovation, with basic communication to customers also falling short. I am pleased that MTA New York City Transit has agreed to take a full line review of the A and C trains, and I hope that they will take riders’ concerns seriously as they study the issues and necessary improvements. I will work closely with the fellow members of the A and C Train Review Working Group as we move forward to ensure Brooklynites’ voices are heard and that positive change is enacted.”

State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “The Full-Line Review is a big deal for riders on the A and C line – the longest in the system. Again and again Full-Line Reviews have led to affordable service improvements for riders — and they’re even better when directly taking riders’ concerns into account. I thank the MTA for taking on this Full-Line Review and for working with me, Riders Alliance, Borough President Adams, and my colleagues in the A and C Train Review Working Group to ensure the best possible outcome for riders.”

State Assembly Member Walter Mosley said, “I applaud the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s Full Line Review of the A and C trains. This study is critically important to the communities I represent, such as parts of Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant, ensuring that those who rely on the A and C trains as a vital transportation source, see improvements in service. I urge that the MTA take a hard look at the concerns that we as a coalition of community activists and elected representatives have outlined with respect to service levels, station conditions and communication with riders.”

State Assembly Member Annette M. Robinson said, “The “A” and “C” trains are vital transportation lines to the residents and businesses in my Assembly District and beyond.  I have and will continue to vehemently encourage the MTA to make improvements to both Lines that will enhance the service for all “A” and “C” riders.  I applaud the Riders Alliance for adding their voice to needed upgrades in service.”

Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr said, “The A & C trains are lifelines to the people of central Brooklyn. Without them, residents, businesses, students and visitors are cut off from resources they need to survive and thrive. Through the Riders Alliance, the communities served by the A & C lines have come together to shape a reasonable set of requests, which I fully support. I urge the MTA to respond positively to the community’s request, ensuring that these priorities are given strong weight in the full line review.”

State Senator Martin Malave Dilan said, “The A and C lines span three boroughs and connect a number and vibrant and diverse communities. It was these communities and riders we heard from that led to these recommendations. Just as these full line reviews and subsequent rider recommendations have resulted in better service for other nearby lines and services, they will have the same impact on the A and C service.”

Council Member Stephen Levin said, “There is no question that riders deserve a better, more reliable A and C trains. I am proud to join Riders Alliance in rallying for better service on these subway lines and for calling for needed improvements in the upcoming full line review.”

 Today’s Scheduled Events:

11 a.m. – New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Public Advocate Letitia James and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announce local input in Community Healthcare Act, Long Island College Hospital playground, Henry St. and Amity St.

5:30 p.m. – PA James attends a Menorah lighting reception, 1372 Coney Island Ave.

6:15 p.m. – De Blasio lights Menorah for first night of Hanukkah, Grand Army Plaza