GIVE PUBLIC SCHOOLS BACK TO THE PUBLIC

New York’s public school system is the largest and most segregated in the country, operates a budget of more than $34 billion (about one-third of NYC’s total budget), and is governed almost exclusively by the Mayor and appointed Chancellor. Fiscal injustices, inequities in admissions, programming and performance-based metrics, and deep mistrust, mandate the need for big structural change to this system if we want it to survive

NYC’s public school system is a government unto itself. It’s budget is larger than the entire budget of the City of Los Angeles.  And it is run by one person, the Mayor, and her/his appointed Chancellor. In addition, the last eight years have seen the bureaucracy bloat and contract spending go unchecked. Segregation persists, and the administration has refused to act on even small, self-authorized changes that would have integrated schools. COVID19 also highlighted the administration’s lack of planning and ability to navigate difficult times without looting tax payers for their negligence.

First and foremost, the school system must prioritize our students and the women and men who care for and teach them every day. The reopening of NYC schools has been an exercise in political theatrics among powerful decision-making entities. Kim believes that public health guidance should be followed. We must reopen schools safely, but schools do need to reopen! This by no means should preclude families from remaining in zoom school full-time. However, remote learning has been managed so poorly by the DOE from the beginning, which is why we need standards for remote learning and touch points with all students. Pre-existing medical conditions, recreation, food security, mental health and wellness are all elements of traditional schooling that have not translated well to remote schooling. The time has come for a Department of Education to be the top priority of our local government – we will all be affected if parents refuse to raise their children here. 

Five-Point Long Term Plan:

1. Abolish Mayoral Control. Bring democracy back to public schools with a more democractically selected school board for the city and each district. Central DOE has shown its inability to make policy and serve students , and our most vulnerable are impacted the most. One of the ways to course correct on systemic injustices is to institute common sense checks and balances to the current, authoritarian-ruled part of our city government. We need people power to convince NYS to enact a new structure, so sign up here to get involved in this effort.

2. Fight for Budget Justice and Implement Essential School Funding Model. Public schools must be properly and transparently resourced. Budgets must include all essential personnel and programs; and principals, superintendents and elected boards should take part in budgetary oversight. Positions such as librarians, nurses, social workers, arts teachers, gym teachers, custodians, after school programs, and special education experts are often hidden outside of school budgets and therefore can be contracted out to private organizations.

3. Stop the Privatization of Public Schools. Charter schools were meant to be institutions of innovation; they were not set up to operate as a parallel system of public education. Yet, wealthy New Yorkers have been pumping money into charter chains, where several organizations essentially have created endowments. At the same time, they serve a disproportionately smaller number of students in crisis, ELL’s and IEP students.  Upper Manhattan, which serves roughly 8% of the student population, is home to more than 22% of charter schools. We need a champion for public schools!

4. Fix the School Nurse and Social Worker Shortages. For decades, governments have prioritized high stakes testing and vanity projects, drawing resources away from the school system’s responsibility to provide essential services and sound education. We must redirect funding to employ a full-time nurse and social worker in all schools.

5. Bring Elected Public School Leaders into Borough Board Ops. To improve communications, reduce redundancies, and build stronger advocacy efforts across all of the issues that public schools face, I want to bring CEC Presidents into the Borough Board as well as bring CEC administrators into the Service Cabinet.