We support the Independent Commission on Public Education’s (ICOPE’s) Vision (icope.org) of a totally new public education system grounded in the fact that education is a Human Right and that parents, students and educators have equal decision-making roles within their schools.
We need to have the NY State Legislators immediately establish a one-year Transition Commission -as suggested by the 3Rs Coalition and the Parent Commission- that oversees the dismantling of the present structure and the creation of the more democratic Human Rights-centered neighborhood based public school system.
One of the first solutions we would like to offer is in regards to the pressing issue of the systematic “disappearing” of Black and Latino educators from the school system. It is a given fact: a truly successful public education system in NYC can only come about with an education staff that reflect and relate to the students and parents.
Nearly twenty years ago, in the 1990-91 school year, white new teacher hires were 45% while Black and Latino new teacher hires were 16% and 12% respectively. This was bad because of the fact that back then most students (83%) were Black and Latino and the teaching staff was 80+% white. Today, under the mayoral control of Bloomberg-Klein the white new hires are 65% while Black and Latino new teacher hires are 12.8% and 13% respectively! (see attached NYC DOE data)
Meanwhile, the Black & Latino student population has remained about 80% of the student population. Moreover, we have lost hundreds of Black and Latino educators since 1990-91 school year because of retirement, transfers, resignations and deaths. We see this reality when we look at the total data on teachers over the past 7 years. In 2001 Black & Latino teachers comprised 22.1% and 14% respectively of the total teaching staff. But, in 2008 those percentages decreased to 20.1% and 13.8% respectively while white teachers remained about the same: 60.1% in 2001 and 59.9% in 2008.
Compensating for the loss of Black & Latino educators has not been a priority with Bloomberg & Klein. Nor is it a priority with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). They both give a bogus reason for the vanishing Black or Latino educator: the lure of higher paying jobs in other fields. The reality is that Black and Latino college students still major in education at a greater rate than any other major. For Black College undergrads nationwide, Education majors are 34% of all the majors... almost doubling the next highest major: Business at 16%.
Solving this Crisis of Vanishing Black/Latino Educators
Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence is advocating that we demand that the current Dept of Education immediately take the at least $60+ million annual teacher recruitment budget as well as other parts of its bloated and misdirected budget and redirect that money to launch a community-based recruitment and education campaign that is structured around a two-year, four-year and eight-year strategy of reaching Black & Latino teacher parity that matches the demographics of the student population. This campaign would include:
1. Free tuition through graduate school for all those Black & Latino parents, college-bound High School grads and other adults who want to earn an education degree and commit to teaching at least five years within the NYC school system. CUNY, SUNY and private schools will be the participating colleges and universities.
2. The Board of Ed will pay for 50% of the fulltime in good standing Ed major’s rent or mortgage and 30% of their rent or mortgage for the first 3 years of their fulltime teaching status.
3. The Board of Ed have at least 10 fulltime Community Teacher Recruiters in each Boro spending the next 4 years actively recruiting and enrolling potential educators from the Black and Latino communities.
4. Over the next 10 years, annually bring at least 100 retired Black & Latino educators out of retirement thru various financial incentive programs and enhanced new retirement policies including comprehensive FREE family medical (including full dentistry) coverage.
5. Institutionalize a Black & Latino Recruitment & Retention Commission and Program to help seek and keep the Black & Latino educators.
How We Can Start to Reverse the Criminalization of Our Youth
1. One of the first things that can be done to reverse this criminalization of our youth is to get rid of the metal detectors and frisking procedures.
2. UNdeputize the NYC public school security force. That is, delink them from being an extension of the NYPD.
3. Have student, parent and teacher greeters at the school’s entrance and hall monitors.
4. Hold a Security Assembly at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year in ALL schools and get not only student input, but also a student-parent-educator Security Taskforce up and running that would redesign the school’s way of handling security.
Restructuring the School Governance System to Promote Neighborhood School Control
BNYEE envisions direct parent, student and educator participation at the school, neighborhood, borough and citywide level. No more overpaid and predominantly white non educators running the education system as a corporation or bank for the sake of lining the wallets of their cronies. The base of this governance system is at the city’s 250 neighborhoods... where the real daily social interactions actually happen among family, friends and neighbors.
• First, the school budget should be determined at each school and the allocation of funds should come directly to the school. The interim mechanism functions without any elected official in the mix. Thru already established funding formula and others- at the state level –we will see the direct funding mechanism flourish with transparency and a high level of anticorruption.
• The NY City Council should replace the NY State Assembly and Senate as the primary political and fiscal oversight body. Who better to know the intricacies and complexities of this city’s neighborhood needs and desires.
• Every school should be open and free to the community to use for meetings and cultural activities seven days a week. Every school should be open to any parent or concerned community person to visit and provide support.
• There are numerous wise and highly talented and skilled people living in our neighborhoods who are ready and willing to come into their neighborhood school and help in the intellectual, emotional and physical development of the children.
BNYEE is also a strong advocate of making Black History (African and Diasporic histories and cultures) a mandatory requirement for all students from Kindergarten all the way through High School. We demand that it should be a mandatory requirement for graduation from high school. In addition, the 1997 and 1998 Freedom Trails state and federal Bills mandate it!
How Do We Measure Our Neighborhood School Controlled System’s Success with Our Children/Our Future?
• Success in school will be measured in how many of the children go on and graduate from college or have mastered a highly skilled craft.
• Success in school will be measured by how joyfully noisy and colorful the school building is inside and out.
• Success in school will be measured by the many parents crowding all of the PTAs, SLTs, school committees and Parent Union meetings and activities.
• Success in school will be measured in how the community is an integral part of the daily activities at the school: from dietary support to cultural and athletic contributions along with active participation on school committees.
• Success in school will be measured by increasing levels of teacher retention and increasing teacher recruitment from the neighborhood.
• Success in schools will be measured by how the students, teachers and staff work together to make the school an environmentally safe zone that, in turn, expands that zone to encompass the school’s neighborhood.
• Success in school will be measured by how the students are directly involved in the daily running of their school.
• Success in school will be measured by how the education staff reflects the cultural reality of the children in the school as well as how many of the educators live in the neighborhood.
• Success in school will be measured by the growing numbers of musicians, artists and athletes graduating.
• Success in school will be measured by how great the food taste in the cafeteria.
• Success in school will be measured by how the schoolyard is use for fun and exercise instead of a parking lot for teachers’ cars.