The New York Daily News reports that New York City Mayor-Elect Bill DeBlasio has appointed Ms. Zakiyah Ansari to his 60 member transition team. Ms. Ansari will be weighing in on matters as important as the choice of New York’s next school chancellor.
As a parent of eight children, all of whom have graduated from or are currently attending New York City public schools, and as advocacy director for the New York Alliance for Education Justice, Ms. Ansari has been among the most effective critics of the closure of pubic schools in New York City and the co-location of charter schools into buildings that also house traditional public schools.
She has led statewide protests in Albany for fair school funding under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court case remedy and she has been a persistent and outspoken critic of the policies imposed by Mayor Bloomberg, his appointed school board, and his appointed chancellors, Joel Klein, Cathie Black, and Dennis Walcott.
Also appointed to DeBlasio’s transition team is Kim Sweet, executive director of New York’s Advocates for Children. Sweet and her organization have repeatedly filed lawsuits against Bloomberg’s policies affecting children with special needs.
I have personally known Zakiyah Ansari for over five years and I am heartened that a skilled organizer who can represent the needs of the parents and children she knows so well will be influencing policy with New York’s mayor-elect. What happens in New York, as we know from the Bloomberg years, impacts the entire nation.
Billy Easton, a long-time and very effective community organizer and executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, comments on the Mayor-elect’s appointments: “There’s no question the transition team represents a dramatic change. But that’s what DeBlasio ran on. There’s a thirst for change.”