Our current school system is broken and it is failing the majority of students, most of whom also happen to be children of color, English language learners, students with IEPs, and students from lower socio-economic levels. For example, only 19% of fourth-graders in Brownsville are reading at grade level compared to 83% of fourth graders in Midtown. Similarly, only 19 out of 59 community districts have greater than 50% grade level reading scores. None of those community districts are in the Bronx.
Every parent wants access to the best education and best school for their child’s needs - no parent wants their child to be a policy experiment. As a parent myself, I know that parents will do whatever it takes to ensure their children get the best possible education. I want New York families to have the choice to find the school that works best for their child and their family. But I will fight to make sure all New York City schools are performing at or above expectations. As Public Advocate I will use my position to provide oversight and clear accountability.
Students in vulnerable populations need more resources to counteract the barriers that impede their educational pursuits, such as unstable housing or food insecurity. As Public Advocate, I will advocate for common sense solutions including funding revisions for high-need schools, hiring additional staff, and providing educational continuity and resources for homeless students. To help with funding issues, I will fight for the money NYC is owed by the state under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, a case I was proud to support through an amicus brief as a law student. As Public Advocate, I will go to Albany every year during the budget process to demand that money.
Expand Access to 3K:
Early childhood education is key to better outcomes throughout life. Universal Pre-K is a good first step, but we need to ensure there are enough seats and expand access to 3K.
Revise Disciplinary Procedures:
Black and brown students and homeless students are suspended at disproportionate rates. The trainings for alternative discipline approaches have been slow to reach many schools. Many schools are lacking well-trained guidance counselors who can provide additional attention to students dealing with trauma and who are trained in alternative behavioral approaches such as restorative justice. I would advocate to fund more counselors and implement proactive measures to decrease the number of students suspended.
I would develop a list of schools that do not meet ADA requirements for accessibility and work with the School Construction Authority to remedy issues. More broadly, I would urge the School Construction Authority to have more transparency on school repairs and explore ways for schools to access faster renovations/repairs.