Beth Fertig

Senior Reporter, WNYC News

Beth Fertig appears in the following:

Klein Wants to Stay

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg has yet to win re-election to a third term. So it might be premature to ask his Chancellor, Joel Klein, if he intends to stay.

Still, we couldn't help asking the chancellor. He was kind of a captive audience. The city's education reporters and the chancellor were ...

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Sonia Who?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Are you excited about the first day of school?"

"Yes," the students replied, dutifully.

The question wasn't asked by a teacher but by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who was visiting a class of 6th graders at M.S. 144 in the Bronx on opening day.

Then the chancellor asked a question ...

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Back to School!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

New York City's public schools open today. Teachers went back to work yesterday. They used to have two days to prepare before the start of classes, but that was changed after this year's contract negotiations. United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew says when he visited some schools yesterday, teachers ...

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Schools Open With Smaller Budgets

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

New York City's public schools opened their doors to students for the new academic year. Principals must manage with fewer resources, following budget cuts of up to five percent. Long Island City High School ninth grader Laneshia Mobley says she's worried because she heard schools ...

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Chancellor Greets Kids on First Day of School

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chancellor Joel Klein greeted students on their first day of class at PS 111 in Long Island City today. Klein asked children what they liked about their school.

KID: It's big.

KLEIN: It's big and what else. How about you? What do you like?

KID: I like the ...

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Comptroller Says DOE Didn't Use All Funds for Smaller Class Sizes

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

City Comptroller Bill Thompson says the city's Department of Education did not make good use of state funds to lower class sizes in elementary grades. His audit found the DOE did not spend 27 percent of the money, or $48 million, in accordance with state ...

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Special Education Students Selected for Charter School

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The first charter school designed for a high number of special education students opens tomorrow on Staten Island. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

Seventy-five students were selected by lottery for the first class of sixth graders at the James Lavelle Preparatory Charter School. Thirty of them ...

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NYC School Teachers to Receive Performance Bonuses

Friday, September 04, 2009

More than 10,000 New York City elementary and middle school teachers and principals will be getting bonuses totaling $33 million. That's almost twice as much as what was awarded last year. The bonuses are based on meeting performance targets. Test scores went up this year, ...

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Guide: City Council District 19, Queens

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The 19th District covers Bayside, College Point, Auburndale, Beechhurst, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Robinwood; parts of Flushing, Douglaston and Little Neck.

Map of District 19

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Democrats Wrestle for 19 Council Seat

Thursday, September 03, 2009

One of the most competitive City Council races is happening in Northeast Queens. Six Democrats are vying in this month’s primary – three of whom have significant money and big name endorsements. The 19th council district borders Nassau County and can seem a world apart from the more urban corners of the city. WNYC’s Beth Fertig has more.

The term “McMansion” typically applies to oversized homes that sprung up throughout suburbia in the housing boom. But it’s also a familiar phrase in Bayside, where City Council candidate Jerry Ianecce points to single family homes, most of which are modest in size.

IANNECE: Now you look at this small little house here which is appropriate for the location, look across the street from it. It’s covering virtually the entire lot.

REPORTER: It looks like a town house.

IANNECE: You would think it’s a multi-family but it’s a one family house.

Iannece explains how homeowners took advantage of loopholes in the zoning law to turn small lots into overgrown structures of four or five thousand square feet. He takes credit for helping the council pass a law limiting overdevelopment.

IANNECE: Basically I’ve been a council member without the pay.

As chairman of Community Board 11, Iannece claims he’s got the most experience of anyone running for the local council seat being vacated by mayoral candidate Tony Avella.

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City Schools Score More A's

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Chancellor Joel Klein announcing the new progress reports for elementary and middle schools. The chancellor spoke at P.S. 189 in Washington Heights which earned an A.

Chancellor Joel Klein announcing the new progress reports for elementary and middle schools. The chancellor ...

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Report Cards for City Schools to be Released Today

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

For the third year in a row, the city will release A though F letter grades for every school. The marks will be given out today in what are called progress reports.

The reports have caused controversy in the past because many schools with high test ...

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Democrats Wrestle for 19 Council Seat

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

One of the most competitive City Council races is happening in Northeast Queens. Six Democrats are vying in this month’s primary – three of whom have significant money and big name endorsements. The 19th council district borders Nassau County and can seem a world apart ...

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Majority of NYC Schools Get A's and B's

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The City Schools Chancellor has released his annual grades for elementary and middle schools, and 97 percent of them scored A's and B's. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

REPORTER: The grades went up tremendously. Eighty-four percent of schools got A's, compared to 38 percent last year. ...

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Teachers Union President Says Don't Blame Us

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew with delegates endorsing John Liu in the Democratic primary for city comptroller.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew with delegates endorsing John Liu in the Democratic primary for city comptroller.

The head of the city teachers union is angry about all the recent press devoted to the so called 'excess pool.' But with almost 2000 paid teachers still without jobs a week before the start of the school year, and a hiring freeze on most new teachers, no one is happy.

Today's Daily News called for a time limit on how long teachers can stay in the excess pool.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew says it's unfair to blame the teachers for an agreement negotiated by the union and by the city. He claims most of the teachers wound up in the pool because their schools were phased out or closed for poor performance, just as their scores started to rise.

'And now because a school closed or was phased down, we're stuck in this position and we're being disparaged in the public by the person we did a good job for. And that gets them quite angry and I understand that anger and I feel it myself,' he told WNYC after endorsing John Liu in the Democratic Primary for City Comptroller.

But the Department of Education says that's not the full story. Spokeswoman Ann Forte says only a few hundred teachers wound up in the Absent Teacher Reserve, or ATR, because their schools were shut. Forte says 1250 of the 2000 teachers in the pool were excessed this summer. And between 850-900 of those were cut for budget reasons. For example, principals who have to reduce the number of English or Social Studies teachers because of declining enrollment, or budget cuts, must let go of the least senior teachers first.

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Bronx School Aims to Inspire Girls

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New York City public school students don’t head back to class until next Wednesday. But some charter schools have already opened, including a new one in the Bronx just for girls. As WNYC’s Beth Fertig reports, Girls Prep Bronx is part of a movement to ...

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At Council Candidates Forums, Focus Is Education

Monday, August 31, 2009

With two weeks to go before primary day a relatively new lobbying group is holding city council candidate forums focused on public education. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

REPORTER: Education Voters of America started in 2006 and has political action committees in four states including New ...

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2000 City Teachers on Payroll Without Jobs

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The first day of school is just around the corner and 2,000 public school teachers remain on the city's payroll, even though they don't have jobs lined up for September. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

REPORTER: The city always has an excess pool of teachers. Some ...

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How Hot is it on NYC's Subway Platforms? So Hot...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On a day when the temperature outside was 92 degrees, it was 106 degrees on the uptown platform of the 1,2,3 line at Times Square.

On a day when the temperature outside was 92 degrees, it was 106 degrees on the uptown platform of the 1,2,3 line at Times Square.

Every summer, New Yorkers have one more thing to kvetch about: the heat on the subway platforms. You know, that eighth circle of Hell where your clothes turn wet with sweat and you find yourself smelling way too many things you wish you didn't know about.

Thankfully, and without getting all religious about the experience, there is salvation once a train pulls up. All subway cars are air conditioned. And the difference between the heat of the platform and the chill of the train is so striking, you might wonder why storm clouds aren't forming in between.

We wanted to see how big a difference there really is by taking a digital thermometer down to the trains. WNYC web producer Amy Pearl accompanied me. We started at the Houston Street stop of the 1 train, where it was 95 degrees on the platform - about 3 degrees warmer than it was outside. Once we got on the train, the numbers on the hand-held thermometer rapidly fell to 76 degrees. It wasn't as cold as some passengers would have liked. But it was far more comfortable than our next stop.

The uptown platform of the 1,2,3 line at Times Square felt like the blast of a furnace. Amy held out the thermometer and watched in horror as the numbers ticked upward. 'So far it's 94! 95! 96!' she exclaimed. 'It feels really hot, actually. Your hair is looking really frizzy.' It was getting big.

The thermometer appeared to settle at about 101 or 102. But when a train passed by, with a rush of more hot air, it climbed to 106. 'It’s really hot and humid there’s no air in this station, you can’t take it,' one woman told us, looking miserable.

We got on the 2 train with Katherine Guerrera, a 21 year old rider from Westchester. She was wearing a long-sleeved blouse and a skirt. She said she was grateful for the cold air of the subway train. It was 74 degrees at that point. But she said the trains can sometimes get too cold. 'Usually when you have on a skirt or something or even a T shirt after a while it can get a little chilly in here.' The temperature fell to 70 degrees as the express train continued heading to 72nd Street.

Inside a car on the uptown 2 train it was a cool 72 degrees.

Inside a car on the uptown 2 train it was a cool 72 degrees.

When we got off the train at 72nd Street, the platform was also about 100 degrees. We turned around and headed back downtown on the 2 train. Again, the train was about 72-73 degrees.

It turns out that's exactly how New York City Transit wants it. Leon Stanevich, director of Maintenance Support, says air conditioning units on subway cars are programmed by their manufacturer to aim for 72.5 degrees. There are 3 points on the ceiling of each car that transit workers scan with readers, on a regular basis, to make sure they're achieving that ideal setting. Stanevich also says the cars have sensors which can adjust to how many people are on the trains. When the trains get crowded, the air conditioners pump even harder. That's why they can feel especially cold if a whole crowd of people leave at once. The units can also malfunction. Some have gotten too cold, sending temps into the 60s. And, of course, they can break down. We all know the sign: an empty train in the summer.

With New Yorkers being told to conserve energy - and save money - by keeping their homes at 78 degrees, we wondered if the cars were too cold. But Stanevich said that wouldn't make sense because the doors are constantly opening, meaning trains would get much hotter without the setting at 72.5. He also reminded us that the settings cannot be manually changed. If they were, he said, there would be chaos. Cars on the subway trains in Chicago and Boston are also set at around 72 degrees, according to their transit authorities. But in Washington, D.C. the metro adjusts to something 10-15 degrees lower than whatever it is outside in summer.

Washington also has air chillers on its platforms - something that only exists in New York at Grand Central.

Sarah Wigfall, waiting to take the 4 train up to the Bronx, said it felt

Sarah Wigfall, waiting to take the 4 train up to the Bronx, said it felt 'wonderful' under the chiller at Grand Central station even though the temperature was 87 degrees. It's the only station with chilled air in the subway system.

New York City Transit says the Lexington Avenue line platforms are unusual because they get air cooled from Grand Central Terminal above. At the downtown platform of the 4,5,6, the temperature was 87 degrees. So 'chill' is still a relative term.

New York City Transit also has fans scattered throughout the system. Stations built after 1989 have them. So do some deep underground platforms in Washington Heights, at Union Square and in Times Square near the shuttle. There's no fan at the Grand Central side of the shuttle, where musician Moses Josiah was playing 'This Little Light of Mine' on a saw. Josiah is from Guyana so he said he's used to the heat. It was 89 degrees where he was sitting. He also said he's 80 years old, though you'd never know it. He said he just drinks lots of water to cope with the heat.

Musician Moses Josiah plays the saw at the shuttle stop in Grand Central Terminal, and says he gets used to days when it

Musician Moses Josiah plays the saw at the shuttle stop in Grand Central Terminal, and says he gets used to days when it's 89 degrees on the platform.

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Subway Passengers Bake on Platforms and Freeze in Cars

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On a hot summer day, the one place you don't want to be hanging around in New York City is a subway platform. That blast of heat as you enter, and the wait for a train, is a source of constant complaints. Thankfully the trains ...

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