To mirror the population of its city schools, New York City is looking to hire 1,000 black, Latino, and Asian male teachers through a new $16.5 million program in the fall of 2017. Under NYC Men Teach, the city's Education Department will work with the City University of New York and Teach for America to recruit new teachers, help undergraduate students complete teaching certification requirements, provide short-term employment between offers of employment in the spring and the start of academic year, and offer professional development grants for current teachers.
To ease the burden of working families, New York City will provide six weeks of fully paid parental leave to around 20,000 city workers this year. The new policy is expected to cost the city $15 million per year, and will be offset by cutting two vacation days from some long-tenured employees and eliminating a raise for managers. While the new policy will not apply to unionized workers, labor leaders have hailed the move and will work with city officials to potentially extend those benefits to their members.
Boston has made its permitting process easier with its new Boston Permits and Licenses online platform. The platform is aimed at supporting contractors, businesses, and homeowners through the entire permitting process, allowing them to apply for multiple permits at once, group permits together in a single project, and put a team of stakeholders together for the application process who can access and manage their permitted jobs in a single page. The new tool also allows users to view information about project review statuses, create accounts through common login providers such as Google, and identify the project location on a map-based interface. The platform will launch in city kiosks first and then online at the conclusion of beta testing.
The District of Columbia is launching a pilot program to transform its mowed grass areas, including highway medians, right-of-ways, and underused patches of land, into meadowland that will provide habitat for plants and animals. As part of the city’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan, the District Department of Energy and the Environment will plant native flowers and grasses that will attract wildlife and people who enjoy viewing them. The city will first extend black tarps over existing grass and weeds to eliminate them and then plant or seed native species that will peak at different times to keep views beautiful throughout the year. At the same time, the city will save on labor expenditures and avoid the emissions related to regular mowing of the areas.
Recognizing that the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, Connecticut plans to convert one of its prisons to exclusively house and rehabilitate inmates between 18 and 25 years old. The dedicated prison would provide these younger inmates with special programs to reduce recidivism, as well as serve to protect younger inmates from potential abuse and manipulation by older prisoners. Officials note that the prison will be modeled after a similar one in Germany and that they are studying a behavior-modification curriculum that might be implemented in the new prison.
Across the country, urban areas are finding new ways to handle polluted run-off, and New York City has created “Sponge Park” along the Gowanus Canal, a green space that uses vegetation and special soil to retain water to prevent sewer overflows on rainy days. Officials expect that the park will soak up thousands of gallons of storm water, automotive pollutants, and animal waste before it can enter the canal. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection is spearheading the $1.5 million pilot, and New York has embarked on other green infrastructure to capture and retain storm-water runoff.