Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Education

Education

  • On School Admissions, New York City’s Next Step Must be Forward, Not Back

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    Mayor de Blasio at an education announcement (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    Once again, New York City public school students and families are experiencing whiplash. Last year, the city took steps to improve equity, transparency, and accountability in high school admissions. Now, at the eleventh hour of the next admissions cycle, Mayor de Blasio announced he might back away from last year’s promise to eliminate geographic priorities for high schools.

    We can’t have any geographic priorities reinstated — they prioritize school

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  • The Big, Bold Idea of Smaller Class Sizes

    Gotham Gazette The Big, Bold Idea of Smaller Class Sizes

    Students (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    This week, the City Council heard debate about a bill that would require the New York City Department of Education to cap how many people it can squeeze into our classrooms. The purpose is to ensure better ventilation and reduce the possibility of viral spread — a health safeguard in the era of COVID-19.

    The end result would be fewer students in each classroom — a reduction in class size that New York City students, families, and educators have been

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  • Universal Access to Music Education for All New York City Students Should Be a Top Priority

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    Music for all (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    While Dr. Miguel Cardona, the US Secretary for Education says “music is a way for students to find themselves and learn critical thinking skills,” over 50% of New York City schools have no full-time music teacher. Cardona thinks—and I agree—that music education is

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  • Adults Need to Grow Up If We Want to Keep Our Kids Safe

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    Back to school (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    We’ve all seen the news lately. It’s rife with images of chaotic school board meetings and rallies starring adults engaged in tantrums, which we would never tolerate from our children. Every parent wants what they believe is best for their children. However, if we want them to get back to school safely, the adults in the metaphorical room need to stop fighting and adhere to public health guidelines.

    As health care professionals, our message is that children should safely

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  • The Major Problems with New York City’s School Reopening Plan

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    Mayor de Blasio and school kids (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Despite New York City Department of Education officials’ claims during this past week’s City Council hearing that the city’s school reopening plan for this fall represents “the gold standard,” the reality is that the plan is riddled with profound flaws.

    First, and perhaps

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  • Back to School Can’t Mean Back to Hunger; Here’s the Food Security Plan New York City Must Implement for Its Students

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    Mayor de Blasio at a school food site (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In just a few weeks, more than 1 million New York City kids will head back to their school buildings — most of them for the first time since March 2020.

    But the imminent return to a new normal in the classroom shouldn’t mean a return to the status quo when it comes to one of the biggest challenges our young people continue to face: hunger.

    Before the pandemic, one in five New York City children struggled with hunger, meaning their families lacked the

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  • City Council Schedules Oversight Hearing on NYC School Reopening

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    Council Speaker Johnson, right, and Council Member Treyger (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    UPDATE: On Saturday August 21, following the publication of this article on the evening of Thursday August 19, the City Council scheduled an oversight hearing by the education committee on the city's school reopening plans for Wednesday September 1. The hearing will come less than two weeks before the first official day of school for more than 900,000 public school students on Monday September 13. The article below has been

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  • No Equity or Excellence as Mayor and DOE Abandon Overcrowded Schools

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    School during covid (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    For years we’ve heard from the mayor and his schools chancellors that our Department of Education is all about “equity and excellence.” Lofty goals, lofty promises, and grand announcements of progress have followed, giving the impression that we are much further along than we really are. You may not share the DOE’s faith in utopia, but my school, Francis Lewis High School, is located right on Utopia Parkway in Queens. 

    This notwithstanding, I’m not persuaded. Next school

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  • CUNY Confronts Series of Challenges as University System Nears In-Person Reopening

    CUNY Looks Ahead to Uncertain School Year

    On campus at CUNY (photo: @cunyedu)


    The City University of New York, CUNY, is facing budget constraints, student enrollment questions, union demands, covid vaccination pressure, and other challenges as its long-awaited in-person reopening approaches. COVID-19 and the Delta variant that has been spreading in the city has heightened concerns about those reopening plans, while university leadership, faculty, staff, and students continue to plot and implement ways to improve the academic, economic, and mental health of the student body

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  • Creating Green, Healthy New York City Schools as They Fully Reopen

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    The mayor and schools chancellor at a school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The next Mayor of New York City will need to ensure that communities hit hardest by COVID-19 can not only recover, but achieve greater economic security and prosperity in the future.

    Recovery after covid and the creation of green, healthy schools for all go together.

    As part of the full re-opening of the public school system, city government should prioritize installing HVAC systems and solar energy in every school. Doing so will enhance air

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  • Mayor de Blasio: Where's the Full School Reopening Plan?

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    Mayor de Blasio at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    I’m writing this on June 25—the last day of the 2020-2021 school year.

    And while we know next school year will start on September 13, there's so much we still don't know.

    There are some factors—vaccination rate, CDC guidelines—that are holding up some of the details, but the lack of a clear plan and clear communication from Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Department of Education now promises some amount of chaos two months from now. And for those of us

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  • Close the Credibility Gap for New York City Schoolchildren

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    Kids in school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The full in-person public school re-opening won’t be a return to normal for the New York City school children who have suffered most from 16 months of covid turbulence, exacerbated by histories of systemic and structural racism. Their outlook on life has fundamentally changed. 

    As Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter has acknowledged, we need more social workers in schools, lifting students’ voices. But unless we as social workers and educators can also shift our approach to

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  • Maya Wiley's School Choice

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    Maya Wiley (photo: @mayawiley)


    Maya Wiley is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor as one of the leading progressives in the race, leaning heavily on her accolades as a civil rights attorney. Her education platform includes a number of the most aggressive and embattled proposals to integrate the city’s deeply segregated schools and she has said her position is forged by her own experience going to a segregated elementary school. But as she has sought the progressive mantle and pledged decisive action toward racial equality, Wiley has not emphasized school

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  • Dream Big Dreams: How Federal and State Covid Relief Can Be Used to Revitalize New York City’s Public Schools

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    Students at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In 1951, Langston Hughes famously asked, “what happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun, or fester like a sore and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”  

    For years, the dreams of children in our community have been deferred. They have been deferred through an army of overcrowded classes, an assembly line of underfunded schools,

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  • State Education Commissioner Errs in Yeshiva Ruling

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    Kids in Brooklyn (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    Just when you thought the world of New York City yeshiva education couldn’t get any more like “Alice in Wonderland,” along comes a new ruling by New York State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa that, in Lewis Carroll's words, just makes the years-long dispute over lack of secular education at Hasidic yeshivas "curiouser and curiouser." 

    Here’s the background: In September 2019,

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  • We Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work and Students Deserve Good Care: An Open Letter from School Nurses

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    Nurses help (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Dear Mayor de Blasio and other city budget decision-makers,

    The federal government recently provided funds for our school system to recover from the pandemic as part of the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER). In addition, New York State has fully funded the Foundation Aid formula for the first time since 2007. A public health crisis brought our city to a grinding halt in early 2020, and the decade-old school nurse crisis has

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  • Moving Toward a Full Reopening of New York City Schools — The Time is Now

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    Kids back at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    On Tuesday, April 27, my kids returned to full-time in-person school for the first time since Friday the 13th of March, 2020. But approximately 600,000 kids in New York City are still learning from home. We must do better.

    One surprising outcome of this pandemic: My three elementary school daughters -- Sadie, Juno and Ruby -- were thrilled at the promise of more time in the classroom. Their first morning back had the first-day-of-school energy as they giggled at reuniting friends

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  • Community Schools are the Answer: An Open Letter to the New York City Mayoral Candidates

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    A community school celebration (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Dear Candidates for Mayor:

    Among the myriad issues you are discussing during public forums and interviews, none is more important than the education of New York City’s children and adolescents. You have responded to, and raised, several aspects of our educational landscape in these venues but we have heard precious little about whether you support expansion of the city’s community schools initiative, an effort that began in response to a de Blasio campaign

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  • In Our Covid Recovery and Beyond, Teachers Should Get the Support They Deserve

    Post-Covid, Teachers Should Get the Support They Deserve

    A teacher at work (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    I had missed the call from my son’s school because I was on yet another Zoom. When I called back, my world turned on its head as I heard words like “suspicious package” “white powder,” and “lockdown.”

    When I reached my son’s school on the Upper West Side, I found the block cordoned off, flashing police cars and ambulances lining the block, people in stark white hazmat suits going in and out of the school and terrified parents like me waiting

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  • Tech Jobs in the City are Growing; Here's How to Make Sure New Yorkers Can Fill Them

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    Robotics and tech ed (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    With more than half-a-million New Yorkers out of work amid a painful economic downturn, the continued growth of tech positions stands out as a beacon of economic recovery. Connecting more residents with these jobs presents an important opportunity for the next mayor to get New Yorkers working again.

    Despite months of grim economic news, tech firms have continued to double down on New York City. Over the past year, companies including Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix have signed new

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  • The State Can’t Again Take Federal Funding Meant for New York City Schools

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    Students in school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Here's the deal: This time last year, the New York City Department of Education closed schools for in-person learning because of the early devastation COVID-19 was causing in New York. While we all understood this was necessary, what happened next was a completely inappropriate and very unnecessary response to that closure by the State.

    The New York City public school system closed for in-person learning during the home stretch of

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  • Democratic Mayoral Candidates Stake Out Education Policy Positions

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    Pandemic education (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Leading Democratic candidates for mayor have appeared at several recent forums to outline their priorities on education and the possibility of running the country’s largest school system, as well as their strategies for achieving those aims. Discussion at the various forums, hosted by a number of diverse groups, was often focused on how the mayoral hopefuls would shape equitable and inclusive educational policy for New York City students, especially amid the fallout of the coronavirus

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  • Expanding Educational Opportunities for Our Youngest Learners

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    Kids at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Economic and racial inequities have been a plague in New York City’s education system for decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation for our most vulnerable students. Faced with the reckoning of remote learning, we’ve been bombarded with stories of how our public schools lack the resources to adequately equip students with the technology they need to stay afloat, while something as simple as providing wi-fi to every child has only been met with excuses. Yet often

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  • Unable to Move De Blasio, Carranza Leaves a Still Deeply Divided School System

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    Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    In July 2018, a few months after New York City welcomed a new schools chancellor, The Atlantic asked, “Can Richard Carranza Integrate the Most Segregated School System in the Country?”

    Now we have our answer. On Friday, Carranza announced his resignation, attributing it to the emotional toll the pandemic had taken on

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  • What Schools Need to Reopen Safely and Truly Serve New York’s Kids

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    Kids back to school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    On Thursday morning, February 25, thousands of New York's middle school students scrambled for misplaced backpacks and student MetroCards, trundled out the door, and made their way to long-abandoned classrooms, ready at last to resume in-person instruction after months of remote learning. Thousands of teachers were there to greet them—many no doubt wearing nervous but enthusiastic grins behind their doubled-up facemasks.

    Sadly, my daughter Karina—a seventh-grader at Brooklyn's MS 88—wasn’t

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