Friday Odds & Ends


Kind & Disparaging Words For John King

Not unexpectedly news that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was stepping down today and was being replaced with former New York State Education Department Commissioner Dr. John B. King, Jr., drew differing views from the pro-charter and pro-union camps in the public education debate.

King’s tenure as state education commissioner includes the setting of new standards for teacher evaluations with greater emphasis on test results. This led to the opt out of tests movement.

“It is a troubling choice because John King‘s tenure in New York was unsuccessful. He was not open to parent input on issues from improving struggling schools to the use of standardized testing. He probably has done more to inspire opt outs than any person in the country except Andrew Cuomo,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education, which is aligned with the United Federation of Teachers.

But pro-charter StudentsFirstNY’s Executive Director Jenny Sedlis said King brings an intellectual rigor, exceedingly high standards, and a clear vision for improving schools for all children to his new position.

John King is driven by a deep conviction that children from any background can succeed and we’re confident he will fight for all students across this nation,” she said.

Cumbo Attends Street Co-Naming For Tom’s Restaurant Owner

City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo
City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo

Prospect Heights City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo will join the Kokotas family, elected officials, restaurant patrons, and area residents at  Tom’s Restaurant on Sunday to celebrate the street co-naming in honor of the late Gus Vlahavas, longtime owner of the Prospect Heights eatery.

WHO: Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, City and State Elected Officials, Brooklyn Community Board No. 8, patrons and community residents

WHAT:  Street Co-Naming Ceremony in honor of the late Gus Vlahavas, longtime owner of Tom’s Restaurant

WHEN: 3 p.m., Sunday, October 4

WHERE: Tom’s Restaurant, 781 Washington Avenue

46 AD Race: Harris Helps Open New Playground

Democratic State Assembly Candidate Pamela Harris joined local officials, community groups and volunteers to help build and kick-off the opening of a new playground in the Sea Gate area of Coney Island.

Pamela Harris
Pamela Harris

“I’m incredibly thrilled to be here on this important day and to do my small part in completing this park. It’s non-profits like KaBOOM! and the local efforts that make our community better for our children and families,” said Harris. “There’s nothing more important than creating safe places where our children can play, grow and develop. This is a great new development.”

Harris, the founder and director of Coney Island Generation Gap, is a staunch advocate for community service. Since 2003, her program has provided local youth with opportunities and skills that help them stay off the streets and reduce crime.

In 2012, the Sea Gate community was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, leaving the local playground destroyed.

Harris faces Republican Lucretia Regina-Potter in the Nov. 3 special election. The district includes Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and small parts of Brighton Beach and Bath Beach.