ALBANY, N.Y. (July 10, 2020) — Public education advocacy organization the Alliance for Quality Education released a “roadmap” for reopening New York’s public schools in September, centering the recommendations and voices of parents, students, educators and others in cities and communities across the state.
As New York’s school districts grapple with how to safely reopen school buildings in the fall, they have received little guidance from state or national leaders. The governor’s official advisory council has fallen short on community representation, lacking transparency or voices of parents and young people. This report, titled A Roadmap to a Just Reopening and Just Schools, aims to provide recommendations from parents, education professionals, young people and students, putting those voices in the forefront of reopening and reimagining our schools.
“An urgent conversation is happening nationwide on how to reopen schools in the fall, but lost entirely from this conversation is the purpose of our schools: how we are going to educate our children?” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “Governor Cuomo senselessly turned to business leaders to guide the reopening of schools making it all the more essential that the voices of parents, students and families — those whose futures are being decided — are at the forefront of this process. We know too well that if we fail to develop a comprehensive plan to address the educational, emotional and social needs of students, Black, Brown and low income children will be the ones harmed the most. We must listen to the ideas from parents, students and educators to create a path to a just 2020-2021 school year.”
The recommendations put forth in the report capture the key themes that emerged from a series of 10 virtual community conversations that took place over the month of June. Parents, community members, young people and educators convened in Buffalo, Rochester, Mohawk Valley, Hudson Valley, Capital Region, Long Island, and in New York City.
From those conversations, two sets of recommendations emerged, as reflected in the final Roadmap: the immediate short term recommendations for reopening schools in the fall, and a long term vision of public schools based on justice and equity.
Every community conversation raised up the fact that schools cannot re-open safely and continue to operate without full funding of Foundation Aid, pre-K and funding for the safety measures that need to be taken to meet the school community’s needs. The governor has wasted enough time waiting for federal funding, when he could implement revenue raising measures to stave off cuts that not only gut our education system but jeopardize the health and safety of our youngest New Yorkers.
The reopening recommendations zero in on:
- Health And Safety & Social and Emotional Well-Being
- Meeting the needs of Special Education students, Multilingual & Bilingual Learners, and other student at risk student populations
- Digital Equity and Access by ensuring that all students and their families have access to the internet and technology necessary for remote learning, as well as to educators who are adequately trained to provide that in a developmentally appropriate manner.
- Focus on healing first, then on learning by doing away with the high stakes accountability measures that serve to label schools and students as lacking.
Long term vision of public schools based on justice and equity:
- Positive relationships that help students flourish;
- Safe and welcoming environment enables schools to work best;
- Teaching that is developmentally appropriate, engaging and helps students learn to the maximum of their ability;
- Comprehensive approach to learning supports for addressing the needs of the whole child: our schools must address students’ individual needs for academic, health, and social and emotional support;
- A student-centered approach: educators must intentionally support the development of critical skills, mindsets, and aspirations of students.
- Early childhood education is essential and childcare providers need adequate support
Roadmap Forum on July 16 at 4 PM:
With Jamaal Bowman, Cynthia Nixon, Zakiyah Ansari
The Roadmap’s release will be the topic of a forum and panel discussion on Thursday, July 16, featuring panelists Jamaal Bowman, candidate for U.S. Congress; actor and activist Cynthia Nixon; and AQE Advocacy Director Zakiyah Ansari.
WHAT: Forum and panel discussion on the recommendations of the Roadmap
WHEN: Thursday, July 16, 4-6 PM
WHERE: Zoom (registration required: click here to register)
WHO: Panelists Jamaal Bowman, candidate for U.S. Congress; actor and activist Cynthia Nixon; AQE Advocacy Director Zakiyah Ansari. Parents, educators, students and community members representing regions of New York State, the Alliance for Quality Education.