Candidates for Public Advocate Commit to Fighting for Fully Funded Schools, Educational Equity

NEW YORK, N.Y. (February 22, 2019) — Four candidates for New York City public advocate today declared their commitment to fighting for educational equity and fully funding New York City’s public schools, should they be elected to the office.

Just four of the 23 candidates on the ballot for public advocate — Ron Kim, Nomiki Konst, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jumaane Williams — have signed a pledge that if they win election, they will use the office of Public Advocate to fight for the educational justice that our children deserve. The candidates pledged their commitment to a range of education equity issues that include:

  • A 3-year phase-in of the $1.5 billion New York City schools are owed in Foundation Aid
  • Safe and Supportive Schools by ending suspensions for K-3rd Grade; putting a cap on school suspensions at 20 days; ending school based arrests, summons, and juvenile reports for misdemeanors and violations; and funding for guidance counselors and mental health service workers in all schools  
  • A five-year moratorium on new charter schools
  • Strong community schools
  • Implementation of Culturally Responsive Education to advance and accelerate student learning by reflecting and respecting students’ cultural, linguistic, and racial experiences

These candidates’ commitment to educational equity differentiates them from a crowded field in the public advocates race. In New York City, where public schools are under mayoral control rather than local school boards, the office of public advocate plays an especially important role in uplifting policies that protect our most vulnerable children.

“New York City students deserve a public advocate that will go to the limit to ensure them the education every one of them deserves, and that is what I promise them as a candidate in this race. If elected, I promise to fight until we have every penny of the $1.5 billion in Foundation Aid owed to New York City’s public school students, which Governor Cuomo has denied to them since he has been in office. I will stand with the NAACP in calling for a 5 year moratorium on charter schools. I will work to end unfair and excessive suspensions and disciplinary practices that impact Black and Brown students, and I will push to implement culturally responsive education in every public school,” said Ron Kim.

“Fully funding public education is a moral obligation, which has been shirked for far too long.  It’s time for our government to stand with every child in New York City, regardless of zip code, and finally make the critical investment in the future of our society. If we truly believe in equity we must ensure that the $1.5 billion owed New York City in foundation aid is fully funded while simultaneously advocating for safe and supportive schools, high-quality community schools, culturally responsive education in every classroom and implement a moratorium on charters until we create clear accountability and oversight measures,” said Nomiki Konst.

“The public advocate needs to be a leader for New York’s public schools—that requires leadership in New York City and taking that leadership to Albany. If I am elected I will go to Albany immediately to demand that that the legislature rejects the Governor’s wholly inadequate education budget and fully fund the $1.5 billion in Foundation Aid owed to New York City. We need to end the school-to-prison pipeline and enact comprehensive culturally responsive education, and I join national NAACP in calling for a moratorium on charter schools,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“As public advocate I will fight for our public schools and that will start on my first day in office. Albany owes New York City schools $1.5 billion in Foundation Aid as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, but Governor Cuomo refuses to stand up for our children. I will demand that the legislature provides every single dollar we are owed. But we must do more than that. The New York City DOE must end the excessive suspensions and the school based arrests that create a school to prison pipeline and the curriculum must fully reflect the cultural diversity of our students. In addition, we should consider a moratorium on charter schools until they are fully transparent and are accountable to families, students and voters.” said Jumaane Williams.

“The office of Public Advocate has more than a legal obligation, but a moral obligation to the students of this city to make education justice a top priority. We have been fighting Governor Cuomo for the $1.5 billion that New York State owes NYC public schools for far too long, and we fully expect our Public Advocate to be our tireless ally in our fight, and stand with the parents, educators and students in demanding education justice from Albany,” said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education.

“In New York City 85 percent of the public school student population identifies as Black, Latinx or Asian, yet when you look at curriculum and reading lists used this is not reflected. Black, Latinx or Asian children most go their entire pre-k to 12 education feeling invisible because the curriculum they are taught does not emulate their cultures, histories, experiences or futures. Parents from the Coalition for Educational Justice want a Public Advocate that will stand with us and fight for an educational system that reflects, respects and affirms students through the implementation of culturally responsive education and curriculum,” said Derrick Owens, Parent leader, NYC Coalition for Educational Justice.

“Racial disparities in school discipline and push-outs persist. Time and time again, Black and Brown students face suspensions, arrests and summons in school at higher rates than their white peers. We need a public advocate who will stand up for children, and advocate to end the harsh discipline policies that disproportionately impact Black and Brown students in our schools,” said Roberto Cabanas, Coordinator, Urban Youth Collaborative.