Gotham Gazette

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Adams 2021: Education - Developing Young Minds, from Pre-Natal to Career

The City’s responsibility for our young people should extend far beyond the years they spend in our schools. In fact, some of the most important help and attention from the City can come at the very beginning of a young person’s life and right before they enter adulthood.

That is why my administration will offer a full continuum of support at every stage of a young person’s life: from prenatal care to childcare to school to professional development to job placement. I will do that by:

  • Providing childcare for every parent who needs it.
  • Greatly increasing job training in high schools and matching students with internships and employers.
  • Creating a mentorship program for youth aging out of foster care.

Move from cradle-to-career to prenatal-to-profession.

It is true that early childhood development is critical and that attention on the 0-3 ages must increase significantly, including expanded and improved options for quality childcare, healthcare, and education. But we need to go even further and recognize that an expectant mother’s health and environment during pregnancy can be just as critical to the health and ability of a child. That is why we will become the global leader in the prenatal-to-career approach, with a much more comprehensive citywide program for expecting moms and families that links them to vital resources such as healthy foods, prenatal classes, and doulas.

Provide every parent who needs it with childcare.

Many working parents simply cannot afford to $200 to $400 weekly for childcare, and there is a lack of adequate space for such programs. We can help by prioritizing space in City-owned buildings for childcare and offering density bonuses to residential building developers who guarantee permanently free or low rent to providers — savings which will be required to be passed on to parents.

We will also expand the city’s earned income tax credit and expand the childcare vouchers program for parents, create a shared inventory of city-contracted and private childcare providers, expedite background checks on workers, drop permit costs for after-school and other childcare programs in City buildings, lock in affordable leases in vacant storefronts for childcare, and install a childcare czar to oversee all childcare in the city.

Create a comprehensive life skills curriculum.

Every adult knows that life skills are just as necessary to live a productive, successful life as academic knowledge. Our schools largely do not teach skills like social interaction and job interview education. We will create a life skills curriculum to prepare every public school student to live and work in the adult world. We will also make internship and externship programming available to every high school student to put those skills to work right away.

Because a financial education curriculum has been demonstrated to improve students’ credit scores and savings rates, and with particular consideration for the financial security challenges facing millennials and members of Generation Z, we will work to make personal financial education a statewide high school graduation requirement.

An Adams Administration will build on Brooklyn Borough Hall’s pioneering efforts to bring participatory budgeting directly into high schools, giving students the opportunity to design and vote on projects to be funded in their own school buildings, as well as new school policies. In the last couple years, students have participated at the Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Gotham Professional Arts Academy in Crown Heights, the Tilden Educational Campus in East Flatbush, and the John Jay Campus in Park Slope; in the last academic year, students even had the opportunity to vote remotely. A citywide participatory budgeting initiative in high schools is the next natural step.

We will also create school-wide pre-registration initiatives that encourage students to register while demystifying the voting process, as well as introducing them to the systems that taken together make up our democracy, from community boards to elected officials’ offices, our court systems to the press, as well as the activist community. Understanding the mechanics of precinct council meetings and city council hearings makes a young person much more likely to actively participate in our democracy.

Greatly increase job training in high school.

We will expand programs for our high school students like the Career Technical Education Industry Scholars Program and ApprenticeNYC, which teach fundamental skills that almost anyone in manufacturing needs, and then match employers with employees. And we will add and expand STEAM centers like the one at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to every borough and give students the chance to earn certifications in fields that will lead to jobs, not just academic degrees.

Create a strong mentorship program for foster youth.

City youth age-out of foster care at 18 and can only continue to receive support until they are 21, leaving them unprepared to live on their own due to limited work experience, little formal education, and a lack of access to health care. Nearly 90 percent of these young people are Black or Latino. One study found that 20 percent of former foster care youth experience homelessness; another study of 100 former foster care youth found that 41 percent had been arrested and spent time in jail within the first six months.

My administration will develop a strong mentorship program for foster care youth — as well as invest in programs like Fair Futures. Research shows that youth with strong mentors do better as adults and are less likely to take part in unhealthy behavior, like unprotected sex and substance abuse. We also need to expand youth employment programs and provide housing for young people as soon as they leave the foster care system.

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