Good afternoon and welcome to The Point!
What are the options?
The 2017 English and math test scores are out, and the news is mostly good, with improvements both in overall achievement and in closing the gap between the scores of minority students and others. It might even be better than it looks.
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia hosted a conference call with editorial boards Tuesday to go over the new results. The opt-out number went down two points statewide, from 21 percent to 19 percent. And they would have gone down even more were it not for Long Island, where opt-outs increased overall thanks to Suffolk County.
Overall, Long Island students are opting out at about four times the rate of the rest of the state. Long Island, with 14 percent of eligible students, had 37 percent of the state’s opt-outs. The numbers show that the majority of students refusing to take the tests come from suburban schools in average or high-wealth districts.
With opt-out rates that high, who can say how our schools are really doing? Asked whether it’s fair to assume the statewide improvements would be even better if all these kids had taken the tests, based on the demographics of those who didn’t, Elia said, “I think the statement that ‘they could be higher’ would be fair.”
A Suozzi opponent emerges
The never-ending Congressional election cycle is spinning fast on Long Island.
Republican Dan DeBono, an investment banker from Northport, has filed the paperwork to establish the “DeBono for Congress” campaign committee with the Federal Elections Commission to challenge Democrat Tom Suozzi, who has served 8 months of a two-year term.
DeBono’s ability to fundraise can be first measured in the next FEC filing due on Oct. 15 that covered the period from July through the end of September. Suozzi shows $500,000 cash on hand as of June 30th.
DeBono does have a bare-bones website soliciting contributions. The site doesn’t mention Suozzi or even the 3rd Congressional District and it's eyestraining to see what office he is seeking in the logo. “U.S. Congress 2018” is in miniscule type under his name. His slogan, “To protect and enhance the liberty of the individual American citizen,” is quite large under a picture of him and his family.
DeBono is a Huntington town GOP committeeman and his LinkedIn profile says he has spent 20 years on Wall Street, as a trader for Goldman Sachs and then as investment banker and portfolio manager at Matias Capital. He was educated at Holy Cross with a graduate degree in finance from the University of Chicago. GOP sources tell us he is likely to emphasize his military training as a former Navy SEAL.
His electoral track record is also bare-bones. In 2006, DeBono lost a run for Northport school board where a field of eight competed for three seats.
Make it a double for de Blasio
He’s approximately half a foot too short but he’s playing the mayor, anyway.
That would be David Eisenbach, the 6-foot tall Columbia University history professor who is standing in as Mayor Bill de Blasio in the debate prep of former City Council member Sal Albanese. De Blasio and Albanese will take the stage Wednesday night for the first official primary debate, the only two candidates to clear the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s hurdles (the board sponsors the event along with news organizations).
It’s one of few chances for anyone to take a fair shot at overwhelming front-runner de Blasio. So Eisenbach, who says he is running for public advocate in a sort of unofficial “ticket” with Albanese, is helping the challenger for his big moment.
Eisenbach tells The Point he’s not doing de Blasio imitations. Instead, he tried to do what incumbents usually do: “minimize the fireworks” — don’t make any mistakes — and “blow them over with statistics” pulled from de Blasio’s website and the mayor's last State of the City address: the number of affordable housing units created, the number of kids in newly universal pre-K, for example.
That might end up being how it goes Wednesday night: an anticlimactic event where the incumbent tries to make no news. Eisenbach’s choice of subjects are likely right, too. Case in point: In response to questions about de Blasio’s debate prep, campaign spokesman Dan Levitan wrote: “The Mayor looks forward to the opportunity to talk about his record of expanding Pre-K for every 4 year-old, driving crime to record lows and jobs to record highs, and building affordable housing at a record pace.”
Could be a snooze, a few hours later than the mayor’s reported usual zzz’s.