The office of New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams released an ambitious new report analyzing how the city can work to re-imagine and improve the NYC public school system.
The report released March 18 highlights the problems many schools faced even before COVID-19, but that were exacerbated after the pandemic, but Williams believes can be fixed including equitably funding in schools, transitioning them to healing-centered schools, implementing culturally responsive teaching, desegregating all New York City public schools and establishing an Office for Students in Foster Care.
“We want to create healthier school environments for students,” said Williams in an interview with amNew York on March 17. “We want the buildings of the schools themselves to be transitioning with [a] healing-centered model. And if we do that I think students get what they need, they feel safer, families feel good and that means the whole community also feels better.”
With a new mayor and new chancellor of education in office, Williams and his office remain optimistic about the potential of collaboration between administrations to accomplish these goals.
Chancellor David C. Banks recently announced his own plans to improve and advance NYC public schools as well, following a four-pillar plan to achieve his own goals. Many of which align with the report and plans of Public Advocate Williams.
“I have been happy to hear some of the things that the chancellor has been saying, so I’m happy there’s alignment there,” said Williams. “There’s some areas where there is concern – that is always the case – but I think people who have been concerned about inequity in the school system, who have been concerned about how much money is going here versus the return that we are getting, how many Black and Brown students aren’t ready to move forward after they graduate can see that there is a huge problem. So if there is alignment, great but I think more importantly we want to make sure we are pushing forward.”
Williams also went into detail about how integral it is for his office and other elected officials to ensure NYC public schools improve following the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the things we do is try to help the city move forward equitably for all New Yorkers,” Williams said. “Education has been a huge part of that, so we put out this report to help New Yorkers invest in education and invest in equity at this very important time as we are coming out of this pandemic, so that we come back with equity that has been missing for a very long time. We have an opportunity that we won’t have for quite some time to really come out, not going back to the ‘normal’ that we had, but to a better ‘normal’.”