Writing

Piece 66 – School Choice? An Answer to Our Failing Public Schools By. Raimondo Graziano

School Choice?

An Answer to Our Failing Public Schools

By. Raimondo Graziano

      Like many programs that are run by the government, schooling in this country is woefully a low priority for policy makers from the local to the federal government. Politicians are good at the talk of it all – supporting students, supporting teachers, etc. Though when it comes to enacting meaningful reforms, they fall far too short. It is obvious there is a serious problem with educating in the country – we lag far behind the Western world in educational standards, and our students meeting them. For many decades now the quality of American education has been declining steadily. Our students have been given a raw deal – something has got to give. It is obvious that there are systemic inequities in our nations schooling system; from the way funds are appropriated, to how we evaluate students, and to what is taught not from state to state but from district to district. It is going to take a great deal of political will to tackle the issues surrounding education; teacher pay, quality of education, and the great disparities in the direction of our higher educational institutions.

      But there is something we can do today. What’s spurred my thinking on this is the current debacle Congress has stumbled into in regards to relief bills aimed at direct assistance to millions of American families. Bear with me – I do have a point pertaining to education. They, in their usual fashion, waited to the very last minute to address the concerns facing millions of Americans. Now they have a handful of days to hammer out an agreement between two deeply entrenched political parties, who have wildly differing views on how aid ought to be dispensed. The Senate aims to cap a bill at $1,000,000,000,000. While the House’s starting position is $3,000,000,000,000. A cavern of differences exists. The problems the bills aim to address are far reaching and can effect many facets of American life. But there are portions that overlap – namely the need to extend unemployment benefits and provide direct stimulus payments. Disagreements may exist on amounts, but both sides recognize that action needs to be taken now on this issue. They should address that now. It is the same for education. We can sit and debate about issues we have deep, deep disagreements over but the bottom line is the American people need actionable results now. In that, and I say this as a moderate and a progressive, school choice may be our answer for our children across the country.

      In the interim while Congress works to tackle the greater issues at the heart of our education system, why can we not use the resources afforded to us to give greater power and agency to families across the country, and even here in New York City. Why is it that Democrats are so opposed to school choice? How is the freedom to choose ones school any different from the cities voucher program as it pertains to housing? We give people a voucher which covers the cost, or part of the cost for rent- that way folks can avoid the shelters. The shelters and public schools are run shoddily – why not give more choice to families. Education of our youth is the most important. Parents ought to be able to give their children the best – and whether that is a public school or a private school the state ought to facilitate the greatest most beneficial agreement and policies in the immediate for the sake of our children, while our politicians work out fixing the broader strokes. Action now, broad reforms later. People, and families need action now.

Writing

Piece 62 – New York Strong: A Progressive Defense of Governor Cuomo By. Raimondo Graziano

New York Strong: A Progressive Defense of Governor Cuomo

By. Raimondo Graziano

    There has been a great deal of talk regarding the Governor of New York State’s response to the current crisis that has gripped the world, and has rocked this country – economically, and politically. However, New York State has come a long way in its response to the crisis. Much of the country has looked to New York State for leadership during this time. Though there have been struggles. While the rest of the country, or large portions, deal with great increases in cases, New York State has been steadily working at keeping cases down, increasing testing, and ensuring for the safety of essential workers as well as driving hospitalizations down. New York State has worked feverishly to be an example for the rest of the country. At the helm during this, providing direction, confidence, and calm – Governor Andrew Cuomo.

     However – there have been challenges. For one thing, the state’s response to the unprecedented unemployment of millions has been utterly flawed and has prohibited millions from collecting unemployment, though it has also exposed the great inefficiencies latent within our bureaucracy. But this in and of itself cannot be laid at the feet of the Governor. The Governor’s leadership during this time has been exemplary of decency and direction. This is a man who can reach across the aisle to pass legislation and push for reform – measured and with a pragmatic approach that is mostly all but lost in politics today.

     All over the country, there are loud calls for radical reforms, which in truth may not be as radical as we make them out to be. However, the pace at which we are attempting to transform society is rapid. In some cases our desire to reform that which has been wrong for so long is pushing us to make changes, the gravity of which, we may not fully comprehend. The way to reform is through pragmatism and compromise. We need not compromise our vision when we come together to debate and form consensus on issues of grave importance. We must exercise prudence and display the characteristics of statesmen when it comes to the affairs of state.

    The Governor of the State of New York has embodied these characteristics. He is indeed a progressive, he has progressed New York State forward. The Governor is perhaps one the most progressive Governors in the Union. Just because he has not pushed through more robust, and comprehensive reforms does not mean the title should be stripped of him. From bail reform and expanded workers protections, to lowering taxes for the middle class and for small businesses – the Governor has delivered. Is he the brash reformist and proponent of some of the most radical proposals on the left? No. But he has progressed New York State. That makes him a progressive in a realist’s eyes.

Writing

Piece 57 – Affordable Housing In New York By. Raimondo Graziano

Affordable Housing in New York
                                                       By. Raimondo Graziano

Affordable and New York City are four words you’d be surprised to find here in the state and city of New York. Over the last ten to twenty years this city specifically has become less and less affordable for the working-class families that struggle to make ends meet day to day. While the state has never seen such a great economic boom and infrastructure expansion, the benefits that ought to trickle down to the average New Yorker just haven’t been nearly close enough to what they should be. In a city and state of such wealth and promise this is an atrocious truth, one that our elected officials have been slow to rectify.

While daily expenses – bills, utilities, provisions, childcare and healthcare and the such are already expensive as ever, housing has become a luxury. The average rent for an apartment, and a small one at that, in New York has gone up to between $2500.00 to $3100.00. This is outrageous when the vast majority of New Yorkers don’t make nearly enough to be able to afford this on a month to month basis. On top of taxes, bridge tolls, and all other means of squeezing the working family – the situation of affordability, and security in ones ability to achieve a good life for themselves has reached crisis levels.

You would be remiss to mention the staggering fact that there are upwards of 60,000 people homeless in New York. More than at their height during the 1930’s. This is outrageous. On any given night in New York, near 4,000-5,000 people are homeless on the streets, and with the frigid winds of Winter lashing the state – this could be classified as a humanitarian disaster. For the wealthiest city and one of the wealthiest states in the union to be leading on this issue is a travesty of the highest order.

This just shouldn’t be. To house an individual in a shelter costs far more than it would if the government would simply guarantee housing to every single New Yorker. This is cost effective to the tax payer, its humane and it’s our obligation as defenders of the wellbeing of the people of this state to enact reforms now to fix this gross inequity. So while Mayor DeBlasio talks about ending street homelessness, he is doing no better than Mayor Giuliani – simply sweeping the issue under the rug so that the “good people” (i.e wealthy, tourists and those campaign contributors of his running the hotels acting as shelters) of New York dont have to worry about seeing the problems that exist as a foundational issue of this state and city. We need action now; otherwise what kind of a people are we who don’t provide for the most basic wellbeing of the people of the state and city of New York?

Old Howard Union

59 – Mayor DeBlasio’s Inaction

The current Mayor of New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio is perhaps one of the most disingenuous “progressives” currently serving the people in the United States in his own capacity. Tonight, we dig into some of this hypocrisy.

Old Howard Union

57 – Governor Cuomo, State of the State

Tonight, Governor Cuomo issued is annual State of the State address and addressed many issues that New Yorkers are facing – some more pressing than others. He lauded his accomplishments and spoke of “practical progressivism”. Governor Cuomo is not a true progressive. A Democrat he may be, but a progressive in the same vein as Franklin Roosevelt he is not.