BACKGROUND: Jia Lee is the Green Party candidate for lieutenant governor. She is a New York City school teacher for special education students and parent of a New York City public schools student. Lee said the state is attacking public education by failing to adequately fund schools and mandated curricula. Lee has been a special education for 17 years and a member of the United Federation of Teachers union. She was active in the opt-out movement by parents to keep their children from taking a growing number of standardized tests that measure student progress and had been used in job evaluations for educators.
ISSUES: In 2015 she testified before a U.S. Senate committee on what she said was the harmful effects of high-stakes standardized tests, such as those that students need to graduate. She said standardize testing has led to the biggest segregation policy since the Jim Crow days after the Civil War. “As a public school special education teacher, the curriculum I am told to teach my fourth and fifth grade students flies in direct contradiction with the realities we are living," said Lee. She also fights against the growing inequality in the state and cites the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute that says the top 1 percent of earners makes 45 percent more than the bottom 99 percent of New Yorkers. She said that trend is worsened by public policy of politicians beholden to their big campaign contributors.