Compare and Contrast

Hidary, vying to be an education mayor, lacks a college degree

jack-hidaryHe shares the mayor’s background as a tech entrepreneur, but there are some differences between candidate Jack Hidary and Michael Bloomberg.

For starters, Hidary does not have a college degree. A self-made entrepreneur, Hidary attended Columbia University and studied philosophy and neuroscience but left school to complete a fellowship in clinical neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health. He never graduated from Columbia or anywhere else, according to a spokesman for his campaign.

The businessman also told GothamSchools that he would charge charter schools fees to use space in district school buildings, a move that would reverse Bloomberg’s policy of letting the schools operate rent-free in public space.

Charter advocates say that to charge rent would cripple charter schools’ ability to serve students, but critics say space-sharing causes overcrowding and tension inside school buildings.

“Charter co-location should continue as long as a reasonable cost is charged to such charters for co-location fees,” Hidary said. “These fees can be phased in over the next few years to address any budget issues between public schools and charter schools.”

Hidary, who has raised more than $430,000 since entering the mayoral race in June, recently completed a GothamSchools questionnaire about how he would run the city’s schools with answers that ranged from vague to decisive.

When asked whether the city’s charter sector should continue to grow, he said data on charters “are mixed,” and some aren’t “tracking significantly above their public school counterparts.” Like other candidates, Hidary said his focus would be on all students across all schools and not just charters.

He also said he would “first make all attempts to fix a school” before closing it. One of the ways he thinks schools can be saved from closure is with blended learning, a model in which students do some of their work online.

“By focusing on our transformation from an 18th-century model of textbooks, testing, and memorization to a blended learning model, we will save many schools that would otherwise be closed,” Hidary said.

Bloomberg’s former schools chancellor Joel Klein spurred blended learning in the city’s schools when he started the Innovation Zone initiative, a network of schools that use technology to personalize learning. But Klein also vehemently argued that schools that were not up to par should be closed.

Like other candidates, Hidary said he would want to see mayoral control continue, saying that the governance structure “has led to quicker decision-making and … allows us to fix issues at a system-wide level.”

He also joined most of the Democratic candidates for mayor in saying that he would require principals to spend a certain portion of their budgets on arts instruction, something that the Bloomberg administration has not done.

Hidary stayed neutral on a few topics that have been hot-button issues in the election.

He doesn’t say whether the next chancellor should be an educator — just that the person chosen “must have a combination of leadership skills and an vision focused on the needs of our children.” He also did not give clear answers on whether he would raise taxes to finance new investments in education or whether lowering class size should be a priority.

In his answers, Hidary uses his background as a tech entrepreneur to present a few markedly new ideas: integrating entrepreneurial programs into every middle school and wiring all the schools for broadband Internet, which he said would allow students to collaborate with other students across the United States and world. He also would create a “system-wide parents’ association,” which would include an online parent-teacher communication system.

“This gives our children direct access to the trends that are shaping their world and their future,” he said.

Compare Hidary’s stances on education policies to other candidates’ by checking out our Next Education Mayor feature

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at [email protected]

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”