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On education, independent Carrión takes advice from the right

GothamSchools is profiling the education policy advisors to each mayoral candidate.

Candidate: Adolfo Carrión, Jr.

Education policy advisor: Michael Allegretti, vice president of programs for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

For the last two years, Michael Allegretti has overseen policy research at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank that champions school choice and the need for accountability.

Allegretti, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010, has also stayed active in politics, first by urging former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr., to run for mayor and now advising Carrión on education policy and other other issues.

Allegretti, who is not paid by Carrión’s campaign, said there is still confusion among the mainstream media about where Carrión stands on education issues, and that’s probably because he was a Democrat for more than 20 years before entering the race as an independent candidate.

“He is a strong school reformer,” Allegretti said. “He believes that right now the charter sector has made gains, and obviously it hasn’t succeeded at everything, but the experiment in charter education needs to be expanded so we can use best practices from it to improve the traditional public school system.”

Allegretti — whose mother was a city public school teacher, first in Harlem and then in the South Bronx — grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and attended P.S. 185 through the fourth grade. He graduated from Boston College and later from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2006. He’s worked at Partnership for New York City and The Climate Group and in 2010, he ran for Congress as a Republican in New York’s 13th district.

Now he works with Manhattan Institute policy researchers such as Marcus Winters, author of “Teaching Matters,” which examines how to recruit, retain and reward good teachers. And he helps Carrión’s fledgling campaign choose which education policy issues to emphasize.

“We help guide the debate toward more choice, more accountability, better curriculum and help avoid some of these ‘red herring’ arguments that by simply lowering class size, we’ll have better outcomes,” Allegretti said. “Well, the evidence isn’t there.”

He added that Carrión has also sought the advice of Seth Andrew at Democracy Prep Public Schools, a network of charter schools; Richard Kahn at Urban Assembly, which operates district schools; and James Merriman at the New York City Charter School Center.

“He’s surrounded himself with people who are at the forefront of education reform, doing the work on the ground,” Allegretti said. “My service to him is try to make some of these introductions, and make sure he has the best research in front of him to inform his position.”

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