As a product of public schools, I believe strongly in ensuring we are adequately funding all of our schools. All students deserve access to a good education, regardless of where they live.
Properly Fund Schools
First and foremost, we must demand that the state fully fund the $1.4 billion dollars in Foundation Aid owed to NYC public schools. As we continue to struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that our city’s public schools have the resources they need to properly care for students and teachers.
Provide Students with Services They Need
In 2018 there was one guidance counselor per 381 students and just one social worker per 716 students. With over 70% of NYC’s public school students experiencing poverty, it is essential that we provide the support students need to deal with stress, mental illness, and family conflict. We must ensure that all schools have an adequate number of guidance counselors, social workers and school nurses, and that we are prioritizing the mental health of our students.
I support the enrollment equity plan, put forth by Teens Take Charge, which aims to increase diversity in our city schools by establishing minimum diversity thresholds, publishing accurate data in the high school directory, and admitting a proportional number of students from each middle school to the city’s specialized high schools. I also support efforts to reduce reliance on standardized testing, which research has shown discourages more innovative and interactive methods of teaching, and reduces student motivation. Finally, we must fully fund the Student Youth Employment Program, which provides summer jobs for 75 thousand city students.
We must resist efforts to privatize education in our city, and we must ensure that all teachers and school staff enjoy strong worker protections. In the age of COVID-19 we must dedicate whatever resources necessary to ensure that neither students nor teachers face unnecessary risks in the classroom.
60 percent of NYC public high school students go on to enroll at CUNY. It is imperative that we keep CUNY accessible and affordable for all students. We must invest real resources in CUNY, advocate for an increase n the TAP grant, and ensure that private universities in NYC pay their fair share.
It is vitally important that the next generation of leaders receive a proper civics education. This includes an understanding of the city’s legislative process, its leadership structure, and direct experience in working with local elected officials. Students should have the option to earn a “seal of civic readiness” as one way to complete their diploma requirements. We should also expand the high school poll worker program, to give students an opportunity to have direct experience with elections, and also earn extra money.