Press Releases

November 5, 2018

For a full list of Jo Anne's press releases, go to her Assembly webpage.




Media Release: October 1, 2018
Contact: Alexis Sfikas |
sfikasa@nyassembly.gov | 718-246-4889

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon Announces Dyslexia Awareness Month:

State Education Department Issues Dyslexia Guidance

 

Brooklyn, NY - October 1st, 2018, marks the first day of Dyslexia Awareness Month. The New York State Education Department (SED), issued dyslexia guidance documents in August, pursuant to legislation passed by Assemblymember Simon in 2017 (A8262/S6581). These guidance documents were created in cooperation with stakeholders throughout the state, including a Town Hall held by Assemblymember Simon at the 3rd Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day in Albany last April, where students with dyslexia, parents, educators, and advocates from across the state brought attention to the need for schools to better serve kids with dyslexia. Representatives from SED attended the Town Hall.

One in five children have dyslexia, a language-based learning disability that makes word recognition, spelling and reading success a difficult task. But too many school administrators believed they could not use the names of specific learning disorders, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia, in the development of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). This law will help more children learn to read and be successful students because when children's learning disabilities are clearly defined, educational interventions can be tailored to their needs and educators will be in a better position to teach them.

Throughout the month of October, Assemblymember Simon will be sharing resources on dyslexia and hosting events for students, parents, and educators and advocating for early screening, better teacher preparation and professional development so that our teachers have the skills they need to teach all our children.

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said, "Dyslexia is the most prevalent learning disability in children, and yet, most parents, teachers, and administrators have trouble recognizing its symptoms. Identifying dyslexia on IEPs is a big step forward in ensuring that kids get the help that they need to learn and thrive. These documents are a good first step, but there is still more to do. During Dyslexia Awareness Month, we must make sure that this new State guidance is shared widely with parents, teachers and school administrators so that every student has a full and fair opportunity to read and to succeed."

As someone who struggled with dyslexia as a child, I know that allowing for a diagnosis of dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia on a child's IEP will help to ensure that the child receives the appropriate educational services to which they are entitled," said Assemblymember Robert C. Carroll, "Proper diagnosis and early intervention are essential to a child becoming academically successful and this law will help ensure that happens. As someone who received appropriate and timely intervention and educational services - it is essential that all children are screened for Dyslexia and that all of our elementary schools have the ability to handle dyslexic students' specific learning needs. I commend Assemblymember Simon for her expertise and tireless advocacy around this issue. 

California's Lt. Governor, and now candidate for Governor, Gavin Newsom has dyslexia. Watch his powerful discussion of why using the word Dyslexia and helping teachers recognize it and target instruction is so important!

Media-Release-Dyslexia-Awareness-Month-October-2018-FINAL.pdf





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May 31, 2016

 

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon's statement upon announcing her re-election campaign

 

Two years ago, we were here on these same steps with Nydia on my right and Joan on my left, surrounded by a small, diverse group of volunteers and supporters.  We promised that the number of people behind us would grow, and grow it did, as we took our campaign from one end of this district to the other and back again.

I am very proud to say that our numbers have increased and today I am joined by so many more supporters, including city-wide and local elected officials and members of the communities we all represent.

Some of us were once opponents or have supported different candidates in the past, but we quickly put aside those differences and have worked together on issues of concern to our constituents: parks, supermarkets, cleaning up the Gowanus Canal, advocating for small businesses, mass transit and transportation, and the schools that educate our children.  It is as it should be.

Every day, I wake up grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of the 52nd AD. Thank you for putting your trust in me.

Since my election, I have passed 7 bills and 2 have been signed by Governor Cuomo.  Some, like the LICH Act and closing the LLC Loophole await Senate action.  Throughout my term, I have fought and advocated for:

raising the minimum wage;

 paid family leave;

increased funding for our schools;

 campaign finance and election reform - Like closing the LLC Loophole and instituting early voting - because we should be making it easier for more people to vote, not fewer, and not harder;

to restore the B71 bus and by ensuring proper funding to get our mass transit system back on track, improve our roads and bridges and provide for fair and equitable tolling policies;

reducing gun violence - earning me a special place in the hearts of the NRA.

for social justice reform and environmental justice; and

to increase awareness of and improve educational outcomes for our children with dyslexia, far too many of whom struggle without the adults in their lives understanding why they struggle or how to address their needs. We aim to make a difference in that picture throughout New York State. 

We still have a way to go on these issues and many more.  We still need to raise the age of criminal liability (like 47 other states have done) so we are not sending teenagers to adult prisons upstate; and secure affordable housing and enforce tenant protections.

We are here in Downtown Brooklyn and all around us we see the effects of development done without a plan and without community participation and now we all find ourselves struggling with the effects of dramatic increases in residential development without the open space, infrastructure or number of school seats we need.

That's why I have taken the lead in highlighting these challenges and advocated that we hit a "pause button" before developing more housing without thought for the lives to be lived in those residences. And that we use that opportunity to fashion a whole new way of working and planning together for a common purpose - living and working together in the Borough we love in the greatest City in the world. We can do this and we must do this. Thank you.




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Please click on the links or more information on A.4330-A and S.5439.

Click this Link to RSVP (for planning purposes only) 

#SayDyslexiaNY 




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June 7, 2015

 

There is little doubt that many parents who choose to educate their children in religious or private schools feel the pinch. I understand this choice and the sacrifice many parents make. It is a choice my parents made when they sent me to Catholic schools. I respect the right of all families to educate their children in the manner that they choose.

 

My experiences and understanding of this issue, however, doesn't change the fact that neither A2551 nor the Executive's recently re-named Parental Choice in Education Act achieve the asserted goals in a way that is fair or Constitutional. To date, no changes have been made to A2551 that will allow me to support it. The executive's proposal has yet to be put in writing.

 

What is clear is this: a well-funded marketing effort has obscured the reality of what this bill would do.

 

When I speak with most of my constituents - even those who attended religious schools - about what the bill would provide and to whom, they do not support it. The marketing campaign asserts, for example, that the EITC would "increase the current tax incentive" to public, private, religious and charter schools," and that it would help "all children regardless of where they attend school."

 

That makes an excellent soundbite, but it is not how either the bill, or the governor's proposal would work. Both provide for taxpayer dollars to be taken away from the public school system, while only helping a relatively small number of our State's children. The bill:

  • provides for an unprecedented 75 to 90% reduction in taxes owed - or a tax credit - to education "investors;"
  • underwrites the transfer of tax dollars from private individuals and corporations to sectarian schools and charter schools; and
  • gives up to $1 million tax credit or up to 90% of a contribution.

This would allow investors to avoid their tax liability by receiving an almost dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations of up to $1 million. Such "donations" are really tax-sheltering investment strategies, accruing as they do to the wealthy investor directly from the public's pocket. Since contributions made by individuals to eligible educational organizations under this new tax credit would be characterized as charitable contributions, they may also be federally tax-deductible; the investor could reap a profit rate of up to 34% on the original contribution.

 

There is a big difference between a tax deductible charitable donation where one makes a gift of one's own resources, and a tax credit, which redirects an existing tax liability from the state to a religious school entity. Recent mailings and robo-calls misleading people about this proposal demonstrate a desperate attempt to hide how this proposal would really work.

Moreover, the notion that a $450 million package of tax credits over the next two years is needed to fund $200 to public and charter school teachers for school supplies is outrageous. If the state has so much money to give away, let it give all teachers an allowance for school supplies. That I would support.

 

Despite recent contentions that some priority may be given to $500 tax credits for families with less than $60,000 in income, few such families have the resources to engage the tax advisors necessary to file the necessary papers to apply for the required contribution authorization certificate of approval in advance of making the contribution to an approved entity. Instead, those credits will be gobbled up by education investors, who do have the resources for sophisticated tax advice. A mere handful of corporations or extremely wealthy individuals could easily take the maximum tax credit amount and deplete the entire allowable amount of $150 million allocated for 2015 (with a planned increase in tax credits next year, that amount could soar to $450 million).

 

The Citizens Budget Commission called the bill "an extremely lucrative benefit likely to serve the state's wealthiest taxpayer."

 

Should this or a similar bill be passed, funding between low and high needs districts is likely to widen even further. Given the huge disparities in income in New York City the bill presents a very likely scenario where a few wealthy individuals or corporations capture the entire program amount and benefit a select few exclusive private schools. After all, the wealthiest 1% of New York State residents receive 35% of all income and have literally seen all the income gains in our state since the Great Recession of 2009-10, while during that same time period, the wages of most New Yorkers have remained virtually stagnant.

 

Because the EITC would allow wealthy individuals and corporations to target their tax liability and shift tax payer dollars as they choose, and in the process authorize the transfer of public money to religious school organizations, it may well violate the First Amendment's Establishment clause. It also violates New York State's constitutional barring of government's endorsement of religion, and its prohibition on direct or indirect financial aid to religious schools.

 

Dispassionate analysis makes clear that few low income children would benefit, while uber-wealthy adults would be enriched at their expense. 




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My initial statement in response to the budget negotiated by the Governor, Assembly and Senate wasn't as clear as it should have been on teacher evaluations. First, it is important people understand some key elements. The bill that included the education budget and teacher evaluations was not a stand-alone bill. It also included ethics reform - reforms affecting attorneys in particular.  As a former teacher I fully understand the concerns that parents and teachers have voiced. As an attorney I believe the ethics reform provisions are critically important to restoring the public's trust, especially in the wake of cases we've seen of late. 

 

The Governor's proposal for teacher evaluations would have evaluations done by a commission that he would oversee and linked education funding to the passage of his entire education package - including for example, Education Investment Tax Credits for millionaire hedge funders. Under New York's constitution, the Governor has enormous powers - the budget must come from him, and the legislature has but two choices:  accept or reject.  A rejection would empower the Governor to enact his plan through a unilateral budget extender (essentially an Executive order that you can read more about in this article by Peter Goodman in "Ed in the Apple"), something my Assembly colleagues and I believed to be far worse.

 

For many reasons I've cited before, the Assembly Majority rejected the Governor's proposal in its Assembly one-house bill budget bill passed earlier in March. I have been very vocal in my belief that policy should not be embedded into the budget and that teacher evaluations should not include student test scores at all. Unfortunately, because of federal Race to the Top provisions, the legislature did so in 2011. That was not the linkage to which I referred and I should have been clearer. 

 

From joint Senate-Assembly conference committees and negotiations with the Governor emerged the plan included in the budget whereby school districts will still be responsible for conducting their own evaluations under parameters developed by the state Board of Regents. Senate Education Chair John Flanagan defended the provisions passed this past week acknowledging that it reduces the emphasis on testing.

 

Is this a perfect answer? No!  Is it the final answer? Not even close!  But in my view, neither the Governor nor the legislature should be picking teacher evaluation weights. That is why the Regents' involvement at this level is a better approach.

 

The budget is not and should not be the final word on this process, but rather one step towards providing our children with an education that helps all our students achieve their potential in an increasingly competitive world.




While there is some good news in this year's state budget, the final result was far less than legislators like myself worked towards. In the end my colleagues and I in the Assembly made the best of a set of terrible budget options. 

We were successful in pushing back on the Governor's proposal, which painted with too broad a brush, demonized teachers and sacrificed student learning on the altar of invalid standardized tests.  From my experience, what was missing from the Governor's proposal were the very things that make education work.  

 

The budget adopted by the Senate and Assembly and signed by the Governor no longer links teacher performance evaluations to standardized test scores and outside evaluators.  That is a step in the right direction because these have no connection to schools or the dynamics that make for good teaching and good schools.  Instead teacher evaluations - which are already a matter of law - will be done according to a mix of factors.  These include local assessments and multiple measures of learning, albeit not the universe of  those I would have preferred.

 

Importantly, the budget puts the awesome responsibility for implementing these education proposals where they constitutionally belong - with the NYS Board of Regents, not the Governor or the legislature.  I am heartened by the addition of new Regents who have real-life, on the ground experience teaching, running schools and school systems.

 

The new state budget increases education funding by $1.6 billon, provides additional funds to persistently struggling schools and gives them time to prepare and plan for success. Overall, 68.5% of the aid will go to high-needs districts; 25.7% to average-need districts; and 5.8% to low-need districts, which is good news for our schools in New York City, 70% of whose schools are high needs.

 

The budget opens the doors to increased pre-K for children throughout the state - which we know is critically important to student outcomes. It includes a $30 million increase in pre-K funding for 3- and 4-year- olds and protects last year's pre-K investment for New York City. It provides additional funding to those schools that educate our most vulnerable children with severe disabilities, and significant funding for NYCHA.

 

As a special educator and disability rights advocate, I disagree with the influence high stakes standardized testing has had on our education systems - a problem that was greatly intensified under President George W. Bush. These tests do nothing to improve educational outcomes for our children with disabilities.  Policymakers are wise to view them with great skepticism.

 

A vote against this hard-fought budget would likely have put in effect the Executive's terribly flawed proposal and its draconian consequences, not the least of which would have been $1.2 billion less for public schools. In the end, I held my breath and voted to make lemonade from the bitter lemons the Governor offered. The fight is not over, however, as I and my colleagues committed to real reforms will continue to fight for our children and for full funding of the Court's ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision.




Statement from Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon:


"With conservatives across the country limiting women's reproductive health rights it's even more important that we enact legislation here in New York State protecting a woman's right to choose as codified by Roe vs. Wade. I was honored to speak and vote in support of the Reproductive Health Services Act.

This bill is one of several passed in the past few weeks by the Assembly to protect women and families such as the paid family leave act and a comprehensive package of legislation to combat human trafficking. It was a privilege to have voted in support of these bills."


Click on this link to hear Jo Anne's comments on the Assembly floor explaining why she voted for this important legislation: 

http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?sh=video&ad=52&preview=memprev


For more information on this legislation see:

http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A06221&term=&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Votes=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y







The election of a new Assembly Speaker is a welcome sign that we can move forward on important reforms to open up the legislative process and enact tougher ethics laws.  There is strong support in the Democratic Conference to bring about consensus on vital reforms while also meeting the timetable for reviewing and negotiating the Governor's proposed budget.  I pledge to work with the Speaker, and all my colleagues, on implementing many of the reforms we have discussed over the past week so that we can have a State government as good as its people. 




I am proud to have worked with my Assembly Democratic colleagues to bring about a new direction and leadership.  As of this coming Monday there will be a vacancy in the position of Speaker.  A new Speaker will be elected on February 10th. It is important that we continue moving forward to address the issues vital to all New Yorkers, especially those in the Governor's proposed budget.




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Jo Anne expresses support for city Comptroller Scott Stringer's recent audit documenting how the NYC Housing Authority lost out on nearly $700 million in lost revenues and savings.


For more information see:

http://comptroller.nyc.gov/newsroom/comptroller-stringer-audit-reveals-that-nycha-squandered-opportunities-for-at-least-692-million-in-revenue-and-savings/




General Election 4 Nov 2014:

JO ANNE SIMON (DEMOCRATIC)         18,421
JOHN A. JASILLI (REPUBLICAN)            1,689
JOHN A. JASILLI (CONSERVATIVE)          458
PETE SIKORA (WORKING FAMILIES)    5,843

http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/results/2014/2014General/00302300052Kings%20Member%20of%20the%20Assembly%2052nd%20Assembly%20District%20Recap.pdf



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http://nyenr.elections.state.ny.us/



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Jo Anne Simon (Democratic Assembly Nominee, 52nd District), Rodneyse Bichotte (Democratic Assembly Nominee, 42nd District), and Jesse Hamilton (Democratic Assembly Nominee, 20th District) discuss the primaries.




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To view the unofficial results, visit the NYC Board of Elections website:http://enrweb.boenyc.us/CD16563AD52.html



Thank You!

September 10, 2014

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Click on this link for the NYC Board of Elections unofficial results by election district in the 52nd Assembly District:


A map of election districts in the 52nd A.D. is at this link:




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Over twenty years ago, the 13 Guiding Principles were created by community members who banded together to create a world-class waterfront park. While Brooklyn Bridge Park is a huge success, that success simply confirms that we need more parkland, not less.

While the city desperately needs more affordable housing, these two buildings are simply too big and too dense.

Congresswoman Velazquez, State Senator Squadron, Assemblywoman Millman and Councilmembers Lander and Levin are correct: The Administration is moving forward too fast on this out-dated Bloomberg-era plan, without any meaningful public engagement. The strain on our infrastructure is too great. We must plan smartly, not rush forward without properly addressing the impacts these two buildings would have on the area. Parts of the plans created years ago are clearly no longer viable, especially given the rapid residential development in the area, including the ill-planned potential residential use of the LICH properties. We must not move forward without full public participation.

Thank you for taking a step back to conduct an environmental analysis. That's a welcomed, good first step. But I propose stepping back even further - to the south.

Let's look to Pier 7 and perhaps build a ferry terminal there. The potential for economic development is enormous, providing as much, if not more, revenue than the two plots at Pier 6.

Now is an opportunity to think together; to think long-term and long-range. We must smartly plan for this crucial next step in the development of the park. Any plan must be integrated with the needs of our beloved neighborhoods- Vinegar Hill, DUMBO, Fulton Ferry, Brooklyn Heights, Concord Village, Willowtown, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus and Park Slope. This includes appropriate development, sustainable infrastructure, public services (such as schools, hospitals, and police) and better utilizing our waterways to address our transportation needs.




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For Immediate Release

Contact: Paul Nelson

917-669-5391 Joannesimon52ndad@gmail.com

SIMON ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR ASSEMBLY

Brooklyn, NY - On Friday, June 13, Jo Anne Simon was joined by US Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, NYS Assemblywoman Joan Millman and community leaders on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall as she officially announced her candidacy for the New York State Assembly. Last month, after 17 years in office, Assemblywoman Millman announced that she was not seeking re-election and promptly threw her support behind Jo Anne.

"Jo Anne Simon's experience as a community leader and champion for the rights of the disabled make her uniquely qualified to continue the work of Joan Millman in the State Assembly," said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. "I am proud to support her and proud to call her a friend." 

"Jo Anne is an independent fighter who also exhibits the rare ability to build broad-based coalitions to solve the issues the 52nd Assembly District has faced over the last 20 years," said Assemblywoman Millman. She added, "Jo Anne is the perfect person to represent this district in Albany and I am proud to support her and to vote for her on September 9."

In the 2009, the New York Times endorsed Jo Anne for City Council, saying she "has an impressive legal background and has been a strong community organizer who has done important work for the disabled. We endorse Ms. Simon."

Jo Anne has served as the female Democratic District Leader and State Committeewoman, an unpaid party leadership position, for the 52nd Assembly District since 2004. She was a dynamic leader in ending Vito Lopez' politics-as-usual in the Brooklyn Democratic Party.  In 2012, she was in the forefront of the effort to force Lopez from office and adopt a series of long-overdue reforms to open up the Kings County Democratic Committee. 

A former President of the Boerum Hill Association, she has worked with neighborhood groups in achieving tangible results that make a difference for our families. She has been one of the leaders in the fight to save LICH, being one of over a dozen people arrested last summer, including Assemblywoman Millman and then Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, to protest the planned closing of the hospital.

In her professional life, Jo Anne is an attorney representing workers and students who have been victims of discrimination. She's also an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School, and a national expert in education and disability rights.

Jo Anne has also been endorsed by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and former NYC Councilmember, now Deputy Brooklyn Borough President, Diana Reyna.

More information about Jo Anne Simon and photos from the kick-off announcement can be found by visiting the campaign website at www.simonforbrooklyn.com

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The pattern of abuses by Vito Lopez towards women staffers is as disgusting as it is irrefutable, as the release of the JCOPE report proves.  However, despite the JCOPE report and the findings of the Special District Attorney, a loophole has thus far enabled him to escape criminal responsibility for repeatedly sexually harassing and abusing multiple former staffers.  

While we would all like to believe there have been exhaustive and comprehensive investigations into Lopez' wrongdoing, the fact is JCOPE only covered Lopez' actions since November 2010, and even then they only focused on violations of the Public Officers Law. JCOPE didn't even interview Lopez staffers hired before November 2008. This limited investigation leaves a 25 year gap in which Lopez' likely carried on his sex attacks. 

Special District Attorney Donovan, who carried out many of his interviews in cooperation with JCOPE only looked at the incidents in June & July 2012, and was careful to say he couldn't find "a chargeable crime was committed within the confines of Kings County" (emphasis added). 

Even with their limited investigation JCOPE found "Lopez engaged in a pervasive pattern of abuse of public office and resources, not for a personal financial gain but for his personal gratification and desires." Given this detailed pattern of Lopez' outrageous behavior, the amount of time and staff in Albany, and Lopez' taking female staff on overnight trips outside of Brooklyn (indeed, outside the United States), there were far more opportunities for Lopez to prey on staffers than have been investigated.  

At the beginning of these horrendous revelations the public cried out for a full investigation of Assemblyman Lopez' actions. But today, despite a documented pattern of abuses, we still do not have a complete investigation into Vito Lopez' actions. 

The overwhelming evidence of Lopez' attacks beg the question of what criminal conduct by Vito Lopez is still hiding in the shadows -- acts that deserve to be criminally prosecuted. 

Lopez refused to appear before JCOPE because his "counsel would advise him to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination." That's his right, but these reports have every appearance of having exposed only the tip of the iceberg as far as Vito Lopez' criminal wrongdoings.  The public is still waiting for a full investigation, and it's long overdue. 

Vito Lopez must resign.  No one should support him for election to the City Council or any other public office.