New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Education Investment

Council Member Ben Kallos with Children at a School

As a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, State University of New York at Albany, and Buffalo Law School, Ben believes in providing every child with a world-class education.  That’s why Ben has always prioritized investments in, and improvements to, our public education system.

As a Council Member, Ben won::

As the next Borough President, Ben will keep fighting for his daughter and all of our kids

Fresh Ideas: Education Investment

Little Rock Nine

Every ten years the census offers the opportunity to not only redraw political boundaries but educational boundaries too. Manhattan’s School District 2 runs from the tip of Manhattan to the Upper East Side gerrymandered to exclude communities of color. We must go further than the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG) recommended by redrawing districts throughout Manhattan to recognize racist redlining that has led to segregated communities and prioritize socioeconomic and racial integration to expand opportunities for every child.


Learn more about Desegregate Public Schools.
New York Times City Schools to Offer All Students Free Lunch

As a student at Bronx Science, Ben didn’t eat lunch because he did not want to get bullied for using lunch tickets. That’s why Ben fought to serve Breakfast After the Bell and won free lunch for all public school students. As Borough President Ben will fight to end youth hunger as we know it by passing his legislation to serve every public school student dinner as part of universal after school.

Universal Child Care

As a parent with a small toddler that he has shared in caring for through the pandemic, Ben knows first hand, how important child care is. Before the pandemic, Ben saw how important child care was to our daughters development, from social learning, to the alphabet, and even behavior, she got so much out of it. However, child care costs start around $30,000 on the Upper East Side, which is more than many New Yorkers make in a year, forcing families to choose between carriers or staying home to do their best or in our case going into debt. The federal government already offers subsidies for child care, including pre-kindergarten for 3 and 4 year-olds, that could also cover children starting at birth. As a Council Member and the next Manhattan Borough President Ben will continue to fight for universal child care.


Learn more about Universal Child Care.

More Fresh Ideas: Education Investment

Desegregate Online Education Kallos Cornegy

With three-quarters of students learning remotely, the former Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus Co-Chair and I authored a letter demanding a desegregation of online learning, initially covered and then endorsed by the New York Post as an opportunity to “make remote learning into a winner for many kids.”

Imagine the public education system we can create together, with the ambitious goal of taking on systemic racism and segregation, all while providing a historic opportunity for students of every race and ethnicity. There would be no more lotteries. No more geographic preference based on racist red lining. No more false constraints created by generations of disinvestment in communities of color. Parents and students could simply apply and be guaranteed a seat in the virtual classroom of their choice. Equal educational opportunities for all.

UFT Brave Anti-Bullying

School can be hard enough without bullying which has now expanded from in-person and in the classroom to online. Ben was bullied as a student in elementary school and has worked with schools in the district to give teachers, staff, and students the resources they need to take on bullying. One program Ben has supported in the City Council is the Brave Mental Health initiative championed by the United Federation of Teachers to provide a free hotline and chat service for at risk students along with trainings for teachers and staff as well as direct services to students and their families. As the next Borough President Ben Kallos will bring the resources and support principal, teachers, parents, and students, need to end bullying.


Learn more about End School Bullying.
UFT Dial-A-Teacher

Homework can be hard, particularly when their isn't even a place to do it at home let alone family members that can help. As a student, Ben struggled through homework until a teacher who saw him struggling stepped in and suggested that in the absence of a place to do homework at home, he could do it in the school library before and after school hours where teachers were on hand to help. As a Council Member, Ben learned about Dial-A-Teacher from the United Federation of Teachers that has been around since 1980, wishes he know about it as a student, gotten the word out to his community, and has supported funding in the City Council. As Borough President, will continue to support this program and make sure every students gets the homework help they need.


Learn more about Homework Help.
New York Post New bill would give loaded laptop to every NYC student proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos

With every single one of New York City’s 1.1 million public school students learning online partially or fully, the Department of Education estimates that there are still upwards of 77,000 students who still need internet-capable devices, despite repeated assurances from Mayor Bill de Blasio that “every student who needs one gets one.” Legislation Council Member Ben Kallos authored with Council Member Farah Louis and sponsored by Education Chair Mark Treyger, Borough Presidents Eric Adams and Gale Brewer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Council Member Stephen Levin, would force the city to give free laptops and tablets with Internet to all public school students and to report on the quantity, costs, distribution and demographics of students receiving devices. As a Council Member Ben will fight to pass this into law, but if that doesn't happen by the time he becomes Borough President, Ben will buy every student who needs one a laptop on day one.


Learn more about Laptops for All.
Pre-Kindergarten in a Commercial Space

New York City has a crisis of empty storefronts and with the pandemic empty commercial spaces, which we need to rethink as community spaces. That’s why Ben proposed using these spaces for schools and we’ve done exactly that for pre-kindergartens all over the neighborhood. As we seek to recover with more space per student, lower student teacher ratios, and finally acknowledging the need for child care, Ben will work as the next Borough President to open more schools, libraries, and community centers in vacant store fronts and commercial spaces throughout Manhattan.

Ribbon Cutting on New School in New Development

Manhattan is a largely built environment and if we build new education infrastructure as part of new buildings that will only house more families we can finally start to alleviate school overcrowding. The City should offer a zoning bonus to include new schools, libraries, youth centers, or senior centers, as part of new development without taking away any housing. In fact, I’ve made it a standing offer for any developer in the neighborhood, though most have chosen a public-private partnership with financing from the city. We've done it before and we can do it again. Let’s build new schools as part of new developments and finally alleviate school overcrowding.

Example of a Racist Textbook

Ben graduated from a New York City Public School and can tell you himself that his text books were decades old and racist. That's why as Council Member Ben Kallos wrote an opinion editorial in the Daily News with Silicon Harlem's Clayton Banks proposing open textbooks as an immedaite way forward. New York City is spending $84 million a year on textbooks. That number is staggering, especially given that many of the textbooks are older than the teachers using them, largely Eurocentric and in some cases dictated by partisan politics.

Rooting out racial injustice must include the classroom, where textbooks too often perpetuate notions of white supremacy through a narrow focus on the achievements of white men. Expanding the narrative through open textbooks can help teach the rich diversity of shared contributions across cultures. From Arabic numerals and Katherine Johnson in math to Marie Curie and George Washington Carver in science, key figures and developments have been neglected in every subject, not only history.

We can make these learning materials more reflective of New York City’s diversity and put limited resources to better use by adopting open textbooks. As a Council Member Ben has introduced legislation to mandate open textbooks as part of giving every student who needs one a laptop. If the legislation is not passed by the time Ben becomes the next Borough President he will buy a laptop for every student who needs one on day one and make sure it comes preloaded with open textbooks that are culturally responsive.


Learn more about Replace Racist Textbooks.
UFT Teacher Center

Education is ever evolving and we need to give our teachers and administrators the professional development they need to give every student a modern education. As a candidate Ben observed training at the Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) and has supported that program as well as Teacher Center and Computer Science for All in the City Council. As the next Borough President Ben will continue to support training for our teachers and administrators throughout their careers.

Council Member Ben Kallos Leads Rally for Universal Pre-Kindergarten

After finally winning universal prekindergarten for the Upper East Side in 2018, Ben began to fight for Universal 3-K. In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the roll out of "3K for All" by the 2021 school year. As of last year, 3K for All is only planned for half of school districts, serving only two-fifths of children, leaving an estimated 39,000 children without 3K throughout our city. As a Council Member and as the next Borough President I will win 3K for All.


Learn more about Universal 3K.
Universal Internet Guarantee

As a 14-year-old public school student at the Bronx High School of Science, Ben discovered the Internet and loved it. Ben asked teachers if he could use the Internet on computers after school if he agreed to fix them. Within 2-years, Ben began making $15 an hour in 1996 building websites in what the New York Times profiled as the new after-school job.

As a Council Member Ben Kallos has been fighting to bridge the digital divide by giving everyone free or low-cost Internet. Working with then-Public Advocate, now-Attorney General Tish James, Ben Kallos won $14.99 a month Internet for low-income families whose children were eligible for free or reduced school lunch.

As Borough President, Ben will use legislative, franchising, and land use powers to provide a Universal Internet Guarantee.

Universal Summer Youth Jobs

Every child should have a job without getting caught in the Cath-22 of needing experience to get experience. Last year, Mayor de Blasio gave a 48-hour notice that SYEP would shut down entirely. It was eventually partially maintained—with 35,000 available employment opportunities, down from 75,000, and with 5-week instead of 8-week jobs. This year, Ben led a rally alongside Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, as well as Borough Presidents Gale Brewer and Eric Adams, to restore this funding, and won restoration of 70,000 slots for this summer. But Ben and his allies want to push further, as the lead sponsor on legislation he co-sponsored with now-Congress Member Ritchie Torres to guarantee youth jobs. As Borough President, Ben will continue the fight for universal summer youth jobs.


Learn more about Unversal Youth Jobs.
Community Schools Diagram

It can be hard to learn at the same time as overcoming many of the challenges that come with living in poverty. Providing resources to students and families to address everything from hunger to housing instability to job training to on-site medial and mental health has been found to improve student performance. Council Member Ben Kallos initially ran on this in 2013 and since then with the support of the City Council Community Schools have been rolled out to 31 schools serving 20,000 students. This has been championed by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) who created the program in 2012 and are now advocating for United Community Schools. As Borough President Ben will work to bring wrap-around services to expand United Community Schools throughout the borough of Manhattan.


Learn more about Wrap-Around Schools.