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Spring Education Conference

Town hall features Council speaker

Face to face conversation with Corey Johnson and Michael Mulgrew Miller Photography City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (left) and Mulgrew discuss school funding, school safety and other education issues during the morning town hall.

In a spirited morning town hall on public education, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for more unrestricted funds to go to schools so classroom educators can decide how that money is spent.

“We at the City Council are not education experts,” he noted, “but there are plenty of experts in our schools.”

Johnson also said real estate developers should be required to include plans for new schools in their luxury housing projects, often sited in already crowded neighborhoods

With the tragedy of the Texas school shooting the day before fresh in everyone’s mind, school safety was an issue of particular urgency. “We can’t teach if our schools are not safe,” said Mulgrew.

A staunch supporter of strict gun control laws, Johnson said he was reluctant to turn schools into fortresses because of the daily psychological impact on teachers and students. Instead, he proposed that cameras be installed in the front of every school as a short-term safety measure.

Mulgrew cited teachers’ out-of-pocket spending on school supplies and the “absurd practice” of the union pleading annually for Teacher’s Choice funds from the Council. The Speaker agreed that change was needed. ”Teacher’s Choice should be picked up by the city permanently in the budget,” he said.

Johnson said it was time for the city to grant paid parental leave to unionized city workers. “You have the full support of the City Council,” he told the assembled educators.

And when Mulgrew asked Johnson if he would be willing to join the UFT in its fight for state legislation to allow schools to tap into the mental health services of a neighboring school with a clinic, Johnson was quick to say, “Sign me up.”

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