SNAPSHOTS | Former teacher Eric Dinowitz keeps an eye on NYC education

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NYC Councilman Eric Dinowitz
Photo courtesy Eric Dinowitz’s office

Rolling out our new series of political “Snapshots,” the Bronx Times sat down with each of the Bronx’s recently elected officials for a discussion on their 2022 legislative agendas and issues of importance to their districts. 

Eric Dinowitz

Age: 35

Neighborhood: Riverdale

Political ideology: Progressive Democrat

Fun Fact: “I have one of my bachelor’s degrees in music, and the other, predictably, is in political science.”

City Councilman Eric Dinowitz, the son of New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, won a March 23 special election replacing Andrew Cohen, who is now a Bronx Supreme Court judge. Dinowitz will continue representing the 11th Council District — which includes Bedford Park, Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Norwood, Van Cortlandt Village, Woodlawn and Wakefield — after winning re-election on Nov. 2 against Republican Kevin Pazmino with 79% of votes, with 99% of scanners recorded.

The former public school special education teacher emphasized education as a key priority in his new term an interview with the Bronx Times. He wants the city to invest in social-emotional learning and mental health education in schools, as well as tutors and social workers in family shelters, to address students’ needs early on and prevent mental health or homelessness crises.

“It is less likely that we will be addressing it as a crisis and more likely we will be addressing it as a continuum of support starting from school age and extending into adulthood,” he said.

He also thinks schools should shift away from a focus on standardized tests and use more qualitative measures to diversify how success is defined. He suggested “apprenticeship programs and working with unions and industries to provide job training or real-world experience” for high school students to prepare them for college and careers.

The councilman said he wants to ensure the city Department of Education is providing appropriate services for special needs students, and doing so meaningfully.

Quality of life is another key issue for Dinowitz, who said he secured funding for better garbage clean-up services and new trash cans in his district, as well as traffic calming mechanisms like speed bumps.

“We chose to live with our families, to work, to retire in the Bronx,” he said. “And there is a certain promise of quality of life. A lot of people have seen that slipping away.”

Dinowitz also helped save Meg’s Garden, an educational garden home to a farmers market on the DeWitt Clinton public high school campus, that was facing eviction earlier this year.

“I plan to deepen my ties with schools and community groups and reach out to other groups who may not have had interactions with city government in the past because we all have a stake in our community,” he said.

While Dinowitz identifies as progressive, he said he differs from some of the positions associated with the label, saying he does not support defunding the police or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Palestinian-led movement against Israel.

Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.

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