- Nelson Mandela
The quality of a child’s public education in New York is unfortunately and unnecessarily often determined by what neighborhood they live in and how much money their family has. This leads to unforgivable racial disparities that limit the futures of thousands of our kids, year after year.
Now COVID-19 threatens to deepen those disparities even more, as lower-income families without adequate internet access and childcare options struggle with blended and remote learning.
But we also now have a chance to completely reimagine our education system. I believe the key to improvement is opening as many paths to success for our students as we can, and to focus much more on how they learn—not just what they learn.
To do that, I will desegregate our schools, institute a year-round school year, significantly expand school and instruction options, prioritize universal access to both online and in-person classes, feed our kids only healthy food in schools, and focus on the holistic growth of every student.
Our immediate focus should be on improving remote learning, which has been a disaster for thousands of families. This is both a failure of our City government and the internet providers who have been promising for years to improve access to lower-income New Yorkers and have not delivered. We can and must do something to correct this injustice. Internet providers need City approval to operate in New York. We should be using that leverage to force them to connect the families of schoolchildren and offer free service.
We must also offer clear paths to college and careers through our schools. For instance, I am very proud of the Brooklyn STEAM Center, a first-of-its-kind facility that offers high school students real-world work experience in emerging professions.
Poor education and lack of preparation leads to incarceration. As many as 80 percent of Rikers Island inmates do not have a diploma or GED and a third of college-aged inmates read below a fifth-grade level. The vast majority of those New Yorkers are Black and Brown.
We can fix this and close the racial performance gaps by greatly improving the educational options for parents and students so that each child gets a quality education that is right for them.
In the coming weeks, I will lay out my full vision for reimagining our public education system. I look forward to sharing it with you so that we can begin to build brighter futures for our children.