It’s been nearly 12 years since Mike Bloomberg took control of City Hall and the Board of Education. As the race for his successor gets underway, advocates are working to ensure that communities will have a voice in setting schools policy.
Last year, A+ NYC, a coalition of more than 40 educational advocacy groups, set out to reform the City’s education system. Using an approach more common to the urban planning process, they selected a design team of parents, students, teachers, administrators and community leaders to seek feedback and create solutions based on responses from more than 70 workshops and over 1,000 participants. They then presented the results back to the community for a second round of feedback, which they will use to create an agenda for the next mayor, the first who will be elected to run the City’s educational system.
A+ NYC took the show on the road last week, outfitting an old school bus with a roadmap of their plan for successful education reform. A five borough bus tour started on Wednesday March 13th, with visits from the four Democratic mayoral hopefuls, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, Bill DeBlasio and John Liu. At each stop along the “PS 2013 Bus Tour,” passersby were invited to go in and vote for the suggestions they felt were most important.
Policies were divided into four categories: “We want all NYC students to,” “School leaders and staff must,” “School system leaders must” and Our City’s next Mayor must.” Each category had several options to choose from. The complete slate is available on the A+ NYC website, http://aplusnyc.org/ps-2013-policy-platform/.
Williamsburg and Greenpoint Parents for Our Public Schools’ (WAGPOPS) Brooke Parker visited the bus outside PS 84. “The PS 2013 bus comprehensively covered the issues that parents care about,” she remarked. “We all want smaller class sizes, less testing, more afterschool, a mayor who brings parents to the table, wrap-around services. Laying these issues out in one place made it clear how unsatisfied parents are with the support being given to our public schools.”
City Council candidate Antonio Reynoso, who hopes to influence the City’s education policy if elected, boarded at PS 19, his alma mater. “We need more parents, students, and teachers in the driver’s seat when it comes to our public schools,” he said. “The bus tour is helping many New Yorkers across the city make their voices heard on education and shape policy decisions for the future.”
The bus also leads a voter registration drive to increase the number of parents who vote in the 2013 mayoral election. Results of the voting will be released next week.
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