Education

Chris knows that well-educated and well-prepared kids are the key to New York City’s future. That’s why she has focused on early childhood education, improving our middle schools, protecting teachers from lay-offs and making it easier for parents to navigate the school bureaucracy.

As Speaker, Chris:

  • Expanded full day pre-K by nearly 10,000 seats.
  • Saved more than 4,000 teachers from layoffs in the 2011-2012 budget.
  • Made kindergarten mandatory, which will draw up to 6,000 more students into critical early childhood education programming.
  • Secured nearly $25 million for the lowest performing middle schools to improve education for thousands of school children.   
  • Created “Respect For All”, one of the strongest anti-bullying programs in the nation.
  • Worked with the UFT, education advocates and business leaders, to provide funding to 6 schools across the city to develop community schools.
  • Secured more than $140 million in additional capital funds to speed up critical repairs and construction projects at CUNY schools.
  • Funded an Education Hotline to help parents navigate school applications and other education questions.
  • Passed the Student Safety Act, requiring the Department of Education and NYPD to report on student suspensions, arrests, and other disciplinary actions.
  • Passed the Schools FACT Act, requiring the DOE to provide more accurate and detailed information on school capacity and facilities.
  • Required the DOE to better track students in closing schools to ensure they are not being lost in the process.
  • Partnered with the New York Immigration Coalition on a program that has already issued photo IDs to over 9,000 immigrant families, allowing them better access to their children’s schools.
  • Successfully pushed the State to restore cuts to Student MetroCards that would have left many students unable to get to school.
  • Launched “Bridge to Tomorrow” and “You Can Too,” programs that connect New Yorkers in need of a GED with prep courses, mentorship and support.
  • Secured requirements to provide language access services for New York City parents. Chris also allocated $2.5 million annually for ESL and Adult Literacy classes.
  • Saved 650 paraprofessionals (school aides, parent coordinators and health workers) from layoffs in the 2012-2013 budget.
  • Partnered with CUNY to create an Advanced Software Development program helping students get jobs in the tech industry.
  • Provided funding to create a CUNY Innovation Hub in Harlem that will help researchers turn their ideas into business ventures.

As Mayor, Chris plans to:

  • Improve Teacher Coordination Through All Grades. Quinn’s plan will create geographically-based support structures to connect early childhood educators and elementary school principals, ensuring that standards, curricula, assessment, and professional development are aligned and that teachers are collaborating across grade levels to ensure student success. This will help prevent a teacher from blindly handing off a student to his or her new teacher each year and allow that student’s educational needs to be addressed more rapidly in the school year. Quinn will also empower teachers and school-based literacy coaches to provide small group interventions to students as soon as teachers diagnose a problem. This is especially important for English Language Learners, special education students, students with an interrupted formal education, and those who are over age and under credited.
  • Support Summer and Out of School Time Learning Programs. National studies show that low-income students lose more than two months in reading achievement during the summer months while their middle-class peers make slight gains. To address this, in addition to extending the school day for the highest-needs schools, Quinn will promote partnerships between schools serving low-income students and non-profit organizations, such as Read Alliance, to increase literacy rates in the summer, after school, and on weekends. Read Alliance partners high school students with younger students (K-1) to provide tutoring and academic support over the summer.
  • Engage Families. Under Quinn’s plan, she will create an online Parent University to equip parents with the tools they need to support what their children are learning in school, from information about how to get the most out of reading with their child to how to help their child choose the right books for independent reading. Additionally, she will expand on the parent involvement and college readiness work developed by New Visions for Public Schools, using data tools, workshops, and one-on-one conversations to help parents understand literacy benchmarks, monitor their children’s progress, collaborate with teachers and school staff, and access academic enrichment and other resources. Quinn will also promote a Dual-Generation approach to increasing family literacy by connecting parents to adult education classes, as necessary, to increase parents’ literacy so they can better support their children in school.  
  • Create a New Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and Children. This new office will oversee all agencies that work directly with children and better coordinate the many services available to kids and their families to keep them fit to learn. Specifically, one of the tasks the office will be to focus on the implementation of Quinn’s plan to expand the community schools model throughout the city to help tackle barriers to learning that are often linked to poverty, starting with the schools in the city with the highest percentages if students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch.
  • Identify our most effective schools and take their best practices system wide. In the last ten years we’ve collected tons of data on our students, and used it to make the system more accountable. What we haven’t done as well is look closely at our best schools, and principals, and teachers, and figure out what they’re doing right so we can put those same techniques into place at similar schools. Chris will conduct a System wide Success Study - an in depth analysis of what techniques from our best performing schools have proven most successful with different types of students - and apply their best techniques to schools with similar populations or similar challenges.

  • Create a red alert system to keep schools from closing. Instead of treating school closings like a goal in itself, we should see it as a last resort when all else has failed. Chris will create a red alert system for struggling schools, looking at early indicators like absentee and graduation rates, and identify them well before they’re slated to close. We’ll provide them the support they need to put ideas from our System wide Success Study into action. And most importantly, we’ll give them time to turn things around, not just wait a year and pull the plug.

  • Develop and support our newest educators by creating a Mentor Teacher program. Chris will create a Mentor Teacher program that will identify our top teachers and offer them the opportunity to leave the classroom temporarily, receive specialized training from CUNY, and serve as mentors for first and second year teachers. That way even if your child has a first-year teacher, they will benefit from the experience of one of our city’s best. After two years these mentor teachers will return to the classroom, so over time we’re building up a reserve of expert teachers at schools all over the city.

  • Empower parents to play a bigger role in our schools. Parent engagement has three distinct components: giving parents the tools to help their children succeed; being responsive to parents looking for help; and including parents in decisions about their child’s education. Chris will create an online Parent University where families can go to learn about everything from nutrition to study skills, and brush up on different class subjects. She will also launch an online tool to help simplify the complicated school choice system. Chris will ensure every Parent Coordinator and Family Advocate is fully trained, supported, and resourced, and introduce a tracking and accountability system for our Parent 311 hotline. Lastly, Chris will better engage Community Education Councils and the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Committee to determine how new policies will impact families.

  • Improve student performance by extending the school day. Dozens of studies over the last decade show the same results: More learning time leads to greater academic achievement, better attendance, and more enthusiastic learners. As Mayor, Chris will keep more of our kids in a structured education program until 6pm, five-days-a-week. Chris will start by targeting schools that face bigger challenges: the 100 schools with the highest percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

  • Use community schools to meet all of a child’s needs. Just because you have a great teacher, that doesn’t mean we’ve removed all the barriers that can make it harder for you to learn. You need to be able to see a doctor when you’re sick. You need physical activity and healthy meals. You need tutoring and after school programs, internships and summer jobs. The community school model coordinates all these services to better meet the needs of the whole child. They’ve had great results in some targeted neighborhoods here in New York, and in other cities from San Francisco to Cincinnati. Now Chris will bring the community school approach system wide.

  • Create a Deputy Mayor for Education and Children. Over the course of a single day, a child might interact with programs run by half a dozen city agencies like the Department of Education, the Department of Youth and Community Development, the Human Resources Administration, or the Department of Health. Chris will create a new office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and Children to better coordinate the many services available to kids and their families, from after school programs to health clinics to food stamps.

  • Reduce the amount of time students spend taking and preparing for standardized tests. New York City is a place that understands the value of art and culture and of thinking in new, creative ways. We need a school system that makes time for science and technology, art and music, physical education, and creative thinking. And that’s simply not possible in a system where everything builds towards a series of standardized tests. Chris would expand the number of schools using alternative assessments like portfolios, where teachers evaluate a collection of student work that showcases the information they learned and progress they made throughout the year. Chris will also work with the State to eliminate field testing - questions or entire exams that don’t even count towards a student’s score, but exist solely to help testing companies try out new test questions.

  • Prepare students for the tech jobs of the future. Between 2005 and 2010, jobs in New York City’s tech sector grew by 30%, and computer skills are now key components of jobs in industries from advertising to manufacturing. Chris will make computer science classes available to students at every high school in New York City. And Chris will also push the federal government to include computer science in the new Common Core Standards.

  • Allow teachers to tailor lessons to their individual classes using online textbooks. Thanks to the Internet, teachers can share lessons and materials with colleagues around the world, and organize those lessons into online textbooks. Chris will use the more than 100 million dollars we spend each year on traditional textbooks to buy tablets for every student in New York City public schools, and cover staff costs to make sure these online texts are meeting rigorous standards.

  • Get every student reading on grade level. Reading and writing are the foundation of every aspect of learning. But right now less than 50% of our third graders are reading on grade level. Chris will create the most intensive literacy support program in the country, with a three-pronged strategy. 1) Build a strong foundation through an integrated pre-K to 3rd grade approach. 2) Incorporate literacy skills into every class in every subject area. And 3) Provide high quality interventions and remedial instruction for students who are falling behind.

  • Cradle to Career Tech Education. Recognizing the value of a strong education in technology, Chris will ensure students in elementary, middle, high school and beyond are taught technology skills.

    • Chris will put computer science classes in every New York City high school, and launch an initiative to address a computer science teacher shortage by providing targeted trainings for current teachers that will enable them to teach computer science classes. Chris will also continue to push for adding computer science to the Common Core.

    • To get kids at every income level excited about computer science at a young age, Chris will work with industry partners to create free summer tech training camps.

    • To meet higher education needs, Chris will expand the successful Tech Apprentice Program, which partners tech employers with colleges to ensure industry needs are being taught and met. She has also committed to opening a new tech campus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that will offer an Advanced Manufacturing Training Program.

  • Provide comprehensive legal services and resources in schools. Education provides immigrant families with a pathway to the middle class, and for many undocumented immigrants, our public schools are one of the few government run institutions they regularly interact with and trust. Chris will bring comprehensive legal services to schools, helping students and their families get on the path to citizenship or legal residency, and access important benefits. Her Department of Education will partner with a network of legal service providers, law schools, and immigrant advocates to provide resources, education and legal services — starting in ten schools in neighborhoods with the highest percentage of immigrant families.

  • Combat childhood obesity by ensuring physical education is available in every school. Providing students with physical activity and education has been shown to both improve academic performance and combat childhood obesity. But many schools in New York City currently do not meet state physical education standards. As mayor, Chris will ensure that every child in every school receives physical education by requiring that all new schools are constructed with either indoor or outdoor physical education space, helping existing schools forge partnerships with community based organizations that provide creative PE options, and adding PE to school report cards to ensure that these classes are viewed as part of the core curriculum.

  • Stop hunger from interfering with learning in our schools. As a long-time anti-hunger champion, Chris knows that too many children go to sleep hungry every night, even though the federal government provides food programs that allow food insecure children to have regular access to healthy, free meals. As mayor, Chris will expand school meal options so that every child can eat free meals without stigma. She will mandate Breakfast in the Classroom in all low- income schools while encouraging principals to adopt the program citywide. Similarly, Chris will make lunch free for all students in high-need districts, which also reduces the administrative burdens on school staff. She will also launch a pilot of the federally-funded school dinner program, targeting low- income students who are participating in afterschool programming through the community schools model. And she’ll expand the number of schools offering take home weekend meals to students receiving free school food.

  • Reform the Department of Education’s English Language Learner system.  Over half of all English Language Learners (ELLs) do not graduate high school after 4 years and many drop out by ninth grade. The city’s ELL program is currently under corrective action by the state and while DOE is making reforms, ELL students are the only group whose graduation rates actually worsened last year. Chris will dramatically reform this system to make ELL students graduate on time and ready for college and career, through the following steps:
    • Requiring Parent Coordinators to ensure every parent of an ELL student is adequately informed about their child’s educational options, and fully enforce requirement that every school adheres to parent preferences on ELL education.
    • Increasing the number of bilingual programs and provide additional support for ELL High School Students, who have the same graduation requirements as other students but who may have never received English language instruction until as late as 16 years old, by increasing support and instructional time.   
    • Increasing the number of bilingual preschool programs.
    • Including ELL resources in transfer schools, CTE programs, YABCs, GED preparation classes and other non-traditional graduation routes to ensure that ELL students committed to receiving their diploma get the instruction they need.
    • Increasing wrap-around services to Latino and immigrant students at CUNY to ensure more students stay on track to receiving their degree.
    • Expanding language support through Workforce1 programs, and for students utilizing GED programs to qualify for Deferred Action.
    • Allowing English Language Learners to use portfolios when applying for selective high schools.
  • Eliminate single grade report cards for schools to end obsessive teaching to the test. Currently, 85% of a school's progress report score is based on test results, which only reinforces to schools, teachers, students, and families that test results are paramount in education. As mayor, Chris will continue to issue school progress reports because she believes they are crucial for families to have as much information and transparency as possible about their children’s education, but will do away with giving schools an overly simplified single letter grade. Instead, she will create a school report that makes clear how a school is doing in more of the areas that contribute to school quality, including art and physical education, health education, richness of curriculum, school culture and parent involvement.
  • Partially subsidize CUNY tuition for bilingual students who qualify as translators in City departments and are willing to participate in a work-study program. Chris’ proposal would allow qualified students to participate in a work-study program that would place them in city departments working as part-time interpreters and translators. In exchange for working a set number of hours a week, half of a CUNY students’ undergraduate tuition costs would be subsidized. The City would launch the program with 100 slots the first year, with a goal of expanding in the future.  Students in the program would go through a certification process, and upon qualification, would be placed in agencies with the highest demand for language assistance services. Students can expect to be placed in city hospitals, the Department of Education, City Hall, and various additional city agencies.  
  • Require Project ARTS funding be used for arts. Recognizing the significance of arts education in schools, Chris also plans to require Project ARTS funding be used exclusively for arts education. This was the case up until 2007, when the funding was folded into a school’s overall budget allowing principals to spend the money on other subject areas. Naturally, given the emphasis on high stakes tests there has been a drastic reduction in arts programming throughout the city. This re-emphasis on the arts will reinforce Chris’ determination to help our schools educate the whole child.
  • Restrict high stakes testing in grades K-2. Chris supports a bill sponsored by State Assembly Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan to ban high stakes standardized testing in grades K-2.  She will make it a priority using the bully pulpit of the Mayor to get this bill passed in both State chambers and signed into law.
  • Create a guide describing the special education programs in the city so that parents can make informed decisions about where to send their children. Parents of special needs children are forced to play a guessing game each year on where to send their child. Currently, the only way to find out information about a special needs elementary school is for parents to research each school individually, often requiring in-person visits. Under Chris’ plan, this information would be made available both in print and online where school choice is an option.
  • Provide parents of special needs children access to the online database that tracks their children’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) progress. Parents of children with special needs are unable to access key information related to their child’s academic progress such as if they are meeting the benchmarks on their IEPs. Chris’ plan will grant access to this database and empower these parents with information to hold schools, teachers and their own child accountable. This information is crucial in determining whether or not a child is progressing in school and is currently not typically available unless requested by the parent or until a parent-teacher conference.
  • Dramatically reduce the numbers of students who are suspended and arrested.  There were 2,548 arrests and summonses in the 2011-2012 school year, more than 11 per day. Students with an arrest are twice as likely to drop out of school, and those with a court appearance are four times as likely to drop out. Chris believes schools and parents should be enforcing discipline among our children, not the criminal justice system. Her plan will end the criminalization of students except in the most serious cases. Her plan includes:
    • Ending the practice of arresting students for minor in-school offenses. Students who write on desks, for example, can be arrested for graffiti.
    • Limiting the use of restraints by School Safety Agents to situations with a threat of physical harm.
    • Ensuring that School Safety Agents notify principals before any arrest or summons is issued so that a non-criminal solution can be worked out.
    • Directing the newly created Deputy Mayor for Education and Children to convene leading voices to develop a comprehensive plan for reducing discipline problems, increasing the graduation rate and developing services to meet the multifaceted needs of New York City schoolchildren. ­
    • Making principals the final arbiters of school safety and culture. She’ll allow them to interview School Safety Agents before they join the school and will also require regular meetings between principals, teachers and School Safety Agents.
    • Ensuring School Safety Agents receive training on educational issues and child development in addition to NYPD training.
  • Increase high school graduation rates at New York City’s public schools.  Last year 9,000 students dropped out of New York City high schools. The average annual income for a high school dropout in recent years was approximately $8,000 less than that of a high school graduate. Additionally, data shows that students who stay in school an extra year are more likely to graduate. Chris believes that a graduation rate less than 100% is unacceptable. Her plan includes:
    • Raising the Minimum dropout age from 17 to 18.
    • Expanding alternative graduation paths and connect high school graduation with employment opportunities.
    • Creating an alert system to notify parents, teachers, administrators and counselors when a middle school student has certain flags that correlate with dropping out such as high rates of absenteeism, suspension or poor grades. These issues alone may not indicate a student is on a path to drop out of school, but when looked at as a whole, it can be easier to identify and address problems sooner.  
    • Bringing Student-Led Conferences (SLCs), a staple of the City’s Outward Bound Schools, to schools across the city. Not only do these conferences increase investment in learning from students, they increase parental engagement.
    • Expanding on the 9th grade Parent Involvement in College Readiness initiative, developed by New Visions for Public Schools. Schools involved in the initiative help parents understand college readiness benchmarks, monitor their children’s progress and support their college and career aspirations, collaborate with teachers and schools staff, and access academic enrichment and other resources to support their children’s progress.
  • Increase women’s financial literacy.  While research shows that women’s income and purchasing power is rapidly increasing, many still lack the necessary skills to manage their money effectively. A recent study found that nearly 50 percent of women do not follow a budget or even have one. Additionally, many women report that they return to abusive relationships because they lack financial security or the ability to deal with their finances. As Mayor, Chris will ensure that the City's Financial Empowerment Centers offer financial counseling and planning courses specifically geared toward women.  Additionally, Chris would expand financial literacy curriculum offered in NYC schools by partnering with nonprofit organizations. 
  • Make NYC the literacy capital of America. With less than 50 percent of the city’s third graders reading at grade-level, Chris’ strategy sets a plan of action for meeting her goal of ensuring that all students are able to read proficiently by the end of third grade. She will ensure that as students move from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” that they continue to take steps forward so they are college or job ready by graduation. Under her plan, Chris will:
    • Create geographically based support structures to ensure that standards, curricula, assessment, and professional development are aligned and that teachers are collaborating across grade levels.
    • Incorporate literacy instruction into every class and every subject area including the arts, mathematics, and science, not only creating a reading and writing culture within the school, but also an effective teaching practice that helps prepare students for real world applications.
    • Promote partnerships between schools serving low-income students and non-profit organizations, such as Read Alliance, to increase literacy rates in the summer, after school, and on weekends.
    • Promote a Dual-Generation approach to increasing family literacy by connecting parents to adult education classes, as necessary, to increase parents’ literacy so they can better support their children in school. 
  • End the practice of using a single test for elite high school admission. Chris believes strongly that there is too much emphasis on high stakes testing in our city’s education system. In particular, using a single test to determine admissions to our city’s elite high schools can result in admissions that do not represent the true talent of our diverse student population, especially with families who cannot afford extra tutoring to prepare for the exams.  As mayor, Chris will expand the assessment measures that are used to determine admission to our elite high schools, so that these educational opportunities are truly accessible to the best of our students.

  • Revise the city’s gifted and talented program. As mayor, Chris will increase total number of Gifted and Talented seats across the city.  She’ll also measure students against their New York City peers to determine admission to district programs instead of comparing to students nationwide, and align parent notification timing with private/parochial school deposit deadlines so parents know their options before deciding on alternative schools.  Chris will also revise the system to use multiple measures of assessing giftedness after kindergarten.

  • Close the city’s Science, Technology, Engineering And Math (STEM) gender gap. Studies have shown that boys and girls perform equally in STEM subjects, with girls often outperforming boys at younger ages, but this begins to change during middle school, where girls begin to underperform in these classes. As Mayor, Chris’ plan will create at least one new all-girls STEM middle school in each of the five boroughs. By focusing on middle schools, Chris’ plan will target resources and efforts at one of the most critical stages for educational development in young girls. The all-girls STEM middle schools will include special programming and support to better prepare students for continued education in the science, math and technology. The schools will offer lab and computer sciences, Regents level instruction in science and math, and additional hours of STEM instruction during the school day to provide support for students aiming to apply to specialized high schools.