Politics and Policy Series: Voting Rights in the 2016 US Elections

The Politics and Policy Series is a thought-provoking, stimulating series of courses and events sponsored by The New School (http://www.newschool.edu/). The series will combine in-class lectures and assignments with the hands-on experience and intellects of both American and Global politics experts in order to dissect the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections, while also providing an international perspective.

Panel discussion examining voting rights in U.S. elections and the continuing fight to equal access to the ballot. A conversation with The Nation's Ari Berman, author of the new book Give us the Ballot; The New York Times' national correspondent Maggie Haberman; and Fordham University political science professor Christina Greer. The panel will be moderated by Milano professor Jeff Smith.  

Politics and Policy is co-sponsored by the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy (http://www.newschool.edu/public-engag...) and the Center for New York City Affairs. This event, an "Examination of Voting Rights in the 2016 US Election" is the first in the series and will also be co-sponsored by The Nation.

Book Launch: Mr. Smith Goes to Prison

New School urban policy professor Jeff Smith will read from his new book, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America's Prison Crisis. This event is co-sponsored by the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy (http://www.newschool.edu/milano), the Center for New York City Affairs (http://www.centernyc.org), and Humanities Action Lab (http://humanitiesactionlab.org).

Following a brief reading from the book, author Touré will moderate a discussion about criminal justice reform with Professor Jeff Smith, Soffiyah Elijah (Executive Director of Correctional Association of New York), Dr. Carla Shedd (Columbia University sociologist), and Melissa Mark Viverito (New York City Council Speaker).

THE NEW SCHOOL | http://www.newschool.edu

A detailed description of the book is below:

The fall from politico to prisoner isn't necessarily long, Smith—a former Missouri State Senator—learned, but the landing is a hard one.

In 2009, Smith pleaded guilty to charges related to seemingly minor campaign malfeasance and earned himself a year and a day in Kentucky's FCI Manchester. Mr. Smith Goes to Prison is the story of his time in the big house—of the people he met there and the things he learned: how to escape the attentions of fellow prisoner Big C and his pals in the Aryan Brotherhood; what constitutes a prison car and who's allowed to ride in yours; how to bend and break the rules, whether you're a prisoner or correctional officer. And throughout his sentence, the young Senator tracked the greatest crime of all: the deliberate waste of untapped human potential.

Smith saw the power of millions of inmates harnessed as a source of renewable energy for America's prison-industrial complex, a system that exploits racial tension and bias, building better criminals instead of better citizens. In Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, he traces the cracks in America's prison walls, exposing the shortcomings of a race-based cycle of poverty and crime that sets inmates up to fail. Now an urban policy professor, Smith’s blend of academic training, real-world political acumen, and insights from a sometimes harrowing year on the inside help him offer practical solutions to jailbreak the nation from the crushing grip of its own prisons, and to jumpstart the rehabilitation of the millions behind bars.

Early Reviews:

"Mr. Smith Goes to Prison joins Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow as essential reading on America's greatest failure: our prison system. I was transfixed by this book: a middle class white politician goes to prison for some hard time and turns out to be a great writer and a keen observer and interpreter of all he sees. Anyone who wants to work on fixing the prison system ought to start by reading this riveting book." -Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean

"This is a terrific and timely book with a compelling narrative that challenges us to think more critically about what mass incarceration is doing to all of us." -Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Institute Founder

"Well-written and insightful, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison asks us to question the way opportunity and punishment are apportioned in our society. Prepare for a bevy of emotions: humor and frustration; elation and grievance. This book and this story are great platforms to better understand the way our justice system works, and what can be done to address its fissures." -Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore

"This eye-opening book reminds us that prison can be steps away for anyone, no matter what the profession. This book is needed to jump-start a national conversation about over-incarceration and rational criminal justice reform." -U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Affordable Housing: Rent and Reality

Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing agenda is at the heart of his administration’s pledge to start a new chapter in “a tale of two cities.” In 2015, Albany serves as the rent-regulation battleground but the true impact of this fight will be felt in the five boroughs where more than 2.3 million people live in rent-regulated housing. While proposals to construct new affordable housing continue to garner the most media attention, the mayor’s State of the City address revealed just how dependent his strategy is on preserving the affordability of existing units. What does the battle over rent regulation in the state capital portend for turning de Blasio’s vision into reality? Join a forum with leading officials, experts, and practitioners who will shed light on this question and more.   

The Center for New York City Affairs presents an examination of Mayor Bill de Blasio's performance in key areas impacting New York City during his first year in office. Join our de Blasio series discussions this year using #deblasioseries and follow us @centernyc

Sponsored by the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano School for International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy

Reforming Juvenile Justice: Is 'Close to Home' Working?

Two years ago, New York City launched "Close to Home," a groundbreaking juvenile justice reform.  Its goal:  Providing group home-like detention for young people who break the law, instead of sending them to scandal-plagued Upstate facilities.  Is Close to Home living up to its promise? Are New York City youth better off? Join us for this installment of the de Blasio series: A conversation with the experts on juvenile justice reform.

A discussion with:

Jeffrey A. Butts, Ph.D., director, Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Edward Fabian, assistant vice president, Adolescent Residential Care, Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services
Martin Feinman, attorney-in-charge, Juvenile Rights Practice's Brooklyn Office, Legal Aid Society
Felipe Franco, deputy commissioner, Division of Youth and Family Justice (DYFJ), Administration for Children's Services
Dr. Jeremy Kohomban, president and chief executive, The Children's Vision 

Moderated by:
Abigail Kramer, associate editor, Center for New York City Affairs at the New School

The Center for New York City Affairs presents an examination of Mayor Bill de Blasio's performance in key areas impacting New York City during his first year in office. Join our de Blasio series discussions this year using #deblasioseries and follow us @centernyc.

Sponsored by the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano School for International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy.

The Low-down on Pre-K from Insideschools

If your child turns 4 this year, he or she is eligible for free pre-kindergarten, either in a public school or at a site run by a community organization. The de Blasio administration gets an A for effort in its rapid expansion of pre-kindergarten, with more than 30,000 new seats last fall and another 20,000 planned for this coming fall. But what is the quality of these new programs?

Even though the city is rapidly expanding free all-day pre-k programs, demand still outstrips supply in many neighborhoods. The staff of Insideschools and a panel of experts will tell you how to find a good program for your child and to navigate the application process. 

This free workshop for parents will:
-- Explain the difference between "child care" and "pre-kindergarten"
-- Help you decide whether to choose pre-k run by public schools or community groups
-- Tell you what to look for when you visit such programs
-- Detail where the available seats are
-- Explain how and when to apply
-- Talk about what to do if there’s no slot for your child where you want it
-- Describe ethnic and racial diversity in pre-k programs.
Listen to our Insideschools.org panelist experts with guest panelist:

Moderated by: 
Clara Hemphill, interim director, Center for New York City Affairs at the New School

Guest Panelist:
Takiema Bunche Smith, director, Leadership Institute at SCO/FirstStepNYC
Josh Wallack, chief strategy officer, Department of Education
...and Insideschools.org Specialist

The Center for New York City Affairs presents an examination of Mayor Bill de Blasio's performance in key areas impacting New York City during his first year in office. Join our de Blasio series discussions this year using #deblasioseries and follow us @centernyc

Sponsored by the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano School for International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy & the Altman Foundation and the Early Care and Education Fund


 Amid protests over the Eric Garner case, New Yorkers ask how to improve police- community relations. Join us for a panel discussion with community activists and a retired police officer from Washington Heights to discuss how ongoing efforts in the arts, recreation and law enforcement have brought have brought greater safety and vitality to a neighborhood once known for murder, drug dealing and police shootings.


On December 3, the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School invited campaign staffers, pundits, and candidates to come together to look back at this year’s exciting races in New York State. Below are a series of highlights from these engaging, illuminating conversations.

Highlights from the New York State Senate Races

Highlights from the New York State Governor's Race 




A discussion on the recent events in Ferguson, MO -- the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, the Grand Jury decision not to indict the police officer involved in the shooting, and the tensions of racial and class inequality simmering and boiling over in St. Louis and other cities across the U.S. 

Milano Professor Jeff Smith -- St. Louis native and author of the new e-book Ferguson in Black & White -- kicks off the discussion with a brief commentary along with Justyn Richardson, Treasurer of New Black School.

Missing Link: What Absenteeism and Risk Load Reveal About NYC's Lowest-Income Schools

Mayor Bill de Blasio will unveil 45 new community schools this month in a much-touted effort to help low-income students. But which schools need the most help? And what kind of supports will have the greatest impact? The Center will release a report exploring these questions in elementary schools. We propose a new measure of poverty, designed to identify the highest needs schools and discuss what should come next in the mayor's bid to reduce poverty's effect on students

High School Choice: Busting Myths

Clara Hemphill, the staff of Insideschools, and other experts bust common highschoolchoice myths.


Look forward to panel representation from:

• The Department of Education

• Charter schools

• Special needs

• Immigrant issues

Tuesday Sept. 23, 2012, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Theresa Lang Community & Student Center

55 W. 13th St. (between 5th & 6th Aves), 2nd floor

Insideschools.org is a project of the Center for New York City Affairs at The NewSchoolwww.insideschools.org This event is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Coming to the Table: Immigrant Women and Food


Celebrate immigrant women and ethnic food traditions. Taste foods from Haiti, Bangladesh, Jordan, and other nations. Learn how immigrant women support their families, create community and maintain culture in a new country—through cooking, growing, selling, shopping for, and serving food.

A discussion with:

  • Grace Young, award-winning cookbook author (Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge, The Breath of a Wok, The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen)
  • Nadege Fleurimond, chef and author, owner of Fleurimond Catering
  • Jessica Chakraborty, community & culinary manager, The League of Kitchens

… and others.

Moderated by:

  • Von Diaz, journalist and food writer

Follow us @fi2w, #foodin2worlds

Presented in partnership with the Center for New York City Affairs, The League of Kitchens, American Food Roots, and Fleurimond Catering.

Watch the Video Here! 

Big Dreams for New York's Youngest Children: The future of early care and education

Presented by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School in collaboration with the Child Care and Early Education Fund

With the creation of EarlyLearnNYC in 2012, New York City reinvented its system for subsidized early care and education for children from low-income families. Officials sought to ensure high quality, developmentally smart care--but a string of financial and logistical hurdles posed difficulties for many of the nonprofit organizations that run these programs. Today, some thrive while others have lost their contracts or struggle to remain open. Now, as the city launches an expanded Pre-K network for 4-year-olds, what will happen to subsidized child care for younger kids? Can the reform vision of EarlyLearn be put fully into action, and sustained? A conversation with experts in the field, and the release of findings from a new Center for New York City Affairs report on early care and education.


  • Steve Barnett,director, National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University
  • Maria Benejan, associate commissioner, Division of Early Care and Education at New York City Administration for Children's Services
  • Takiema Bunche-Smith, education director, Brooklyn Kindergarten Society
  • Gregory Brender, policy analyst, United Neighborhood Houses 
  • Maria Contreras-Collier, executive director, Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation


  • Abigail Kramer, associate editor, Center for New York City Affairs

Click here for Participant Bios.

Access and download the Executive Summary, Findings and Recommendations.

[youtube width="630" height="350"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX1QxHRi5U8[/youtube]

Surveillance City: The War on Drugs in Urban Neighborhoods

Presented by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School

2014 Nathan Levin Lecture on Public Policy

The War on Drugs has created a powerful surveillance state in America’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. High-tech techniques criminalize entire blocks and transform informal community networks into liabilities for local residents as police use family relationships to demand information, pursue suspects and threaten incarceration. The presumption of criminality takes a relentless toll.

Our 2014 Nathan Levin Lecturer, sociologist Alice Goffman, spent six years living in one neighborhood in Philadelphia, documenting the complex web of warrants and surveillance. She describes the long-term damage done to working class and low-income families and communities.

  • Alice Goffman, assistant professor of sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; author, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City

Followed by a conversation with:

  • Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, The New School
  • Jamelle Bouie, politics, policy, and race reporter, Slate

[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://youtu.be/LcsoXnVxkDU[/youtube]

The Nathan Levin Lecture on Public Policy was established in 1989 in honor of the late Nathan Levin, a trustee and acting president of The New School. Mr. Levin was one of a number of local civic leaders affiliated with The New School in the early 1960s who sought to promote the university’s involvement in reform politics and community service. Their vision led to the founding of the Center for New York City Affairs and the Milano School's program in urban policy analysis and management.

Youth Justice, Police and NYC’s Neighborhoods

Center for New York City Affairs at The New School presentsa Child Welfare Watch forumCo-sponsored by the New York Juvenile Justice Initiative


There’s been a sea change in New York City juvenile justice policy and police practices over the last two years: Courts now place most teen delinquents in city programs close to home, rather than upstate; and police have sharply reduced the use of stop and frisk, a tactic that overwhelmingly targeted young men of color. Policymakers in the new administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio seek to drive change even further, to improve police-community relations and strengthen juvenile justice programs while also securing public safety. How does the administration intend to pursue its objectives? What do community leaders and others believe needs to change? Will young people and community residents gain a meaningful voice in both policy and practice? And can better data collection and data sharing help shape new solutions, both inside and outside the walls of government?

A conversation with:

  • Gladys Carrion, commissioner, NYC Administration for Children's Services
  • Joanne Jaffe, bureau chief, New York Police Department
  • Chino Hardin, field trainer/organizer, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
  • Gabrielle Prisco, director, Juvenile Justice Project, Correctional Association of New York
  • Chris Watler, project director, Harlem Community Justice Center at Center for Court Innovation

Moderated by:

  • Andrew White, director, Center for New York City Affairs, The New School

[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://youtu.be/THUUJEtPcQQ[/youtube]

This forum is made possible thanks to the generous support of The Prospect Hill Foundation and the Sirus Fund.  Additional funding for the Child Welfare Watch project is provided by the Child Welfare Fund, the Ira W. DeCamp Foundation and the Booth Ferris Foundation.

Grassroots politics, from Brooklyn to the White House

No, Bill de Blasio hasn't announced his candidacy for president...yet. But the same type of grassroots politics that gave Mayor de Blasio his start and propelled him to the mayoralty helped turn a little-known, freshman senator from Chicago's South Side into the President of the United States. Learn how from Mitch Stewart, who, as Obama's 2008 Iowa caucus director and 2012 battleground states director, helped oversee the campaign's field operations in its most critical contests. Stewart will be joined by leading New York City strategists who are managing local efforts to achieve universal pre-kindergarten and public campaign financing.

A conversation with:

  • Mitch Stewart, founding partner, 270 Strategies
  • Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director, New York State Alliance for Quality Education
  • Michael Blake, principal, Atlas Strategy Group
  • Susan Lerner, executive director, Common Cause New York

Moderated by:

  • Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, The New School

Admission is free but you must RSVP.

[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://youtu.be/Y0to6b1XCsI[/youtube]

The Center’s public policy forums are made possible thanks to the generous support of the Milano Foundation.

The City & The State: Conflict or Collaboration?

empire state

Is tension inevitable between Albany and NYC? Or is it just that there’s a new mayoral administration and an election-year governor, and press and politicos shining the spotlight in search of every conflict? As Mayor de Blasio seeks to fulfill campaign promises and pursue the agenda that got him elected, a popular Governor Cuomo has his own program to fulfill. Will the city and state collaborate? Or will diverging fiscal and political priorities cause more conflict, more publicly than in the past?


  • Michael Benjamin, political columnist, New York Post; former NYS Assemblyman (D-Bronx)
  • Bill Hammond, political columnist, New York Daily News
  • Thomas Kaplan, political reporter, The New York Times
  • Liz Krueger, New York State Senator (D-Manhattan)

Moderated by:

Admissions is free, but you must RSVP: thecityandthestate.eventbrite.com

[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://youtu.be/ff2tZsIFkUA[/youtube]

Public Advocate Campaign Roundtable

This year's tight and closely watched race for Public Advocate included a tough primary that necessitated a runoff. The result was the historic election of a female African American to city-wide office for the first time in New York’s history. Notwithstanding the competition and high stakes, key campaign strategists from the major campaigns lamented their difficulty attracting press coverage and public attention throughout the race, as voters and press alike were distracted by scandals and surprise candidacies in other city-wide races.

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