De Blasio picks some education allies to help with his transition

Ansari and Sweet. ()
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Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced a 60-person transition team on Wednesday afternoon, which includes two clear allies on education.

Zakiyah Ansari and Kim Sweet are both champions of public schools, who have criticized some of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education policies.

Ansari, the advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education and a spokeswoman for New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, is a stridently anti-Bloomberg education activist who has helped organize protests outside of the Panel for Educational Policy meetings that routinely approve co-locations and new charter schools.

In an interview with Capital shortly before de Blasio's victory, Ansari said she’s looking for a “clean break chancellor” from the Bloomberg years. “The chancellor should have experience in education and knowledge of New York City public schools, we don’t want the hurdle of someone having to come in and figure out how the schools work," she said. "And we need a chancellor who is going to focus on engaging parents in a real way, we’ve been missing that the last twelve years.”

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Barely twenty minutes after results were announced on Election Night, she sent an email blast on behalf of N.Y.-G.P.S. calling de Blasio’s victory a “referendum on Bloomberg’s failures, especially in education,” and proclaimed that “a new day has come.”

She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sweet is the Executive Director of Advocates for Children (A.F.C.), which focuses on high-risk students, and she told Capital shortly after Election Day that de Blasio "will have the opportunity to show that mayoral control can go hand in hand with inclusiveness and respect for parents, students and communities." Sweet declined to comment for this article.

The de Blasio transition team will also include Sharon Kleinbaum, a rabbi at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, New York’s L.G.B.T. synogogue. She is the partner of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Rumors recently surfaced in Page Six that de Blasio was considering Weingarten for chancellor, but she has repeatedly denied the suggestion.