As students, we see inequities in the school system up close and are committed to working with adult leaders to reverse them and to re-imagine how our schools function.
We demand a system built on:
New York City students are voiceless when it comes to education policy making and governance. The DOE should implement recommendations of the Student Voice Working Group, which we helped lead in the spring of 2018.
• Create a Student Union that brings together representatives from every high school to set a student policy agenda and work alongside DOE leaders on the biggest challenges facing our schools.
• Hire a Student Voice Director to oversee the Student Union and ensure that students are represented in all major policy conversations.
• Elect one student from each of the seven field support regions to serve as Student Union Presidents who meet monthly with Chancellor Carranza and represent students at official events.
New York City is the financial and cultural capital of the country. The city and DOE should work together to better leverage the unique opportunities available to students here.
• Expand the Summer Youth Employment Program to allow every high school student to have a paid summer internship that aligns with their interests.
• Revamp civics curricula to give all students the opportunity to lead projects that effect change in their schools and communities.
• Commission an annual Civics Day across all schools that gives students the chance to work with elected officials, public servants, and other civic leaders on the most pressing challenges facing our city.
• Require advisory classes in every high school where students discuss current events, learn financial literacy, and receive comprehensive sex-ed.
• Push back the universal start time of schools to 9:00 AM to mirror the typical start time of office jobs and to boost student achievement.
With 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students, the DOE is a bureaucracy on the scale of many state governments. That’s why it should be proactive in building and maintaining transparent systems.
• Create student-facing social media accounts that allow students to receive updates from and send messages directly to central staff.
• Adopt our Enrollment Equity recommendation to increase transparency in the high school admissions process.
• Continue hosting borough-wide town halls to engage community members on a range of issues related to equity in our schools.
• Publish email addresses and phone numbers of senior officials on the DOE website and ensure timely responses to questions, comments, ideas, and concerns.
WE DEMAND SCHOOLS THAT ARE:
School segregation is the number one problem in our school system, and the DOE should treat the crisis with the urgency it demands.
• Eliminate all admissions screening mechanisms at all levels of enrollment including elementary school Gifted & Talented programs, middle school screening, and high school screening.
• Redraw elementary school zones to maximize racial and socioeconomic integration.
• Replace elementary school gifted and talented programs with school-wide enrichment models.
• Replicate District 15’s middle school integration plan across all districts.
• Adopt our high school Enrollment Equity Plan to set academic diversity thresholds for high schools and replace the SHSAT with a top 7% plan.
• Remove tracking in schools and create opportunities for advanced coursework open to all students
• Evaluate students in multiple ways (portfolios, presentations, research papers, etc.) and de-emphasize standardized tests.
Despite attempts to create an equitable funding formula, deep resource inequities persist across our schools. These inequities are rooted in the racial and socioeconomic segregation across the system.
• Deliver the $1.2 billion in Foundation Aid New York City is owed from Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.
• Share a portion of the wealthiest PTA funds with schools in need.
• Pool co-located or geographically proximate small schools together for after-school athletics and extracurriculars so that all students can participate in activities of their choice.
• Expand the community schools model to provide social services for students and community members to prioritize well-being and to make educational spaces be at the center of the communities they are located in.
• Expand free student Metro card service to weekends and over the summer.
• Ensure that all students have access to high-quality, healthy school lunch and breakfast
School discipline systems modeled on the criminal justice system are dangerous, discriminatory, and do not work. We support calls from the Urban Youth Collaborative, the YA-YA Network and others to demilitarize schools.
• Remove metal detectors from all schools.
• Implement restorative discipline practices in all schools by 2021.
• Cap the maximum length of superintendent suspensions at 20 days (from 180) and commit to phasing out long-term, out-of-school suspensions. Read more about suspension reform from Organizing for Equity, New York.
• Replace school safety agents with counselors until every school has a 1:150 ratio of counselors to students, or lower.
• Share and spread best practices from schools with the lowest rates of bullying and teasing.
Students of all backgrounds should see their identities reflected in the life of a school: its traditions, programs, curriculum, faculty, and overall design. This creates the necessary conditions for social integration.
• Implement culturally responsive curricula in schools. This includes comprehensive history of people of color and indigenous people, LGBTQ history, and women’s history.
• Increase teacher diversity across all schools.
• Create and staff an Office of Culturally Responsive Education at the NYC DOE.
• Ensure all teachers receive anti-bias training and follow-up professional development.
• Invest heavily in programs and curricula that promote tolerance, inclusion and positive relationships across lines of difference.
• Create structured social activities that encourage students to get out of their comfort zones and interact with peers from different backgrounds.
We appreciate the work that our partner IntegrateNYC has done to bring the issue of segregation to the forefront and to broaden the conversation beyond the movement of bodies. We agree that integration is about all aspects of student experience, as reflected in IntegrateNYC’s “5 Rs of Real Integration” framework: Race and Enrollment, Resource Allocation, Relationships Across Group Identity, Restorative Justice, and Teacher Representation.
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Join us in calling on the Mayor and Department of Education to adopt this platform.