New Action Proposals and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision for NYC Schools

(from the New Action leaflet distributed at the September 2015 UFT Citywide Chapter Leaders Meeting).
For a printable version click: Leaflet 2015 September

In his first day back to school remarks “Equity and Excellence” Major Bill de Blasio laid out two goals for our schools and school children. First was to increase the graduation rate, which stands at 68.4%. Second was to make sure those graduates have the skills to make it to the next level. His initiative to provide free, full-day pre-kindergarten is already a major accomplishment. His commitment to work with educators and not against them is a great advance over his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg.

He laid out six measures 1) giving educators the preparation and support they need to teach Common Core standards; 2) for teachers to work collaboratively with one another; 3) for schools to be safe and supported; 4) to make parents welcome and to open lines of communication; 5) to have school leaders with a strong vision and to open to feedback from the school community; and 6) to develop a sense of real trust throughout the school community. New Action applauds many of these goals, with the obvious exception of Common Core.

New Action would add several points to the Mayor’s list. Reduce class size. Remove the threat of being rated ineffective due to standardized test scores (See Sherri Lederman of Long Island). On trust the Mayor and Chancellor must do much more – administrators need to act collaboratively with staff – not just give feedback. Too many administrators still go after outspoken staff members, rate them unfairly, and target veteran teachers. Administrators should be held accountable for training probationers, and arbitrary discontinuances should be questioned. Schools in New York have become the most segregated in the nation – the Mayor needs to address issues of diversity. The City must also correct the sharp decline of teachers of color in NYC. We welcome much of Mayor de Blasio’s vision and sincerely hope he is receptive of several of New Action’s suggestions.

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