Education and Social Reproduction
READ TIME - Abstract: 1 min | Full: 5 min
Platform Abstract: As a former NYC public school teacher, Jonathan knows firsthand how our education system fails to address the needs of individual students. Schools often prioritize high-stakes testing over support infrastructure which is proven to ensure student success. Meanwhile, students — particularly poor, Black, brown, and immigrant students — are subject to unequal funding and over-policed classrooms.
Jonathan knows that social equality starts in the classroom. Therefore, we need to build a school system in which every student has the same access to resources — including mental health professionals, special needs services and technology. We need a school system that is controlled by the community — not just the mayor. Seven decades after Brown v. Board of Education, we need to finally take the necessary steps to fully integrate our schools. We need a historically accurate, dynamic curriculum. Last but not least, we need to remove cops from schools and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.
1. Equitable Funding For Schools
Currently, District 26 is allocated the lowest amount of funding per student from state, city, and federal sources, netting almost a thousand fewer dollars per student despite having the largest average school sizes. These allocations are determined in relation to the income of the district at large, leading poor areas to have limited access to resources such as mental health professionals and special education. Jonathan knows that schools are not funded equitably within the district — and he will fight to ensure that all schools meet the same level of quality seen in specialized schools.
The above chart displays the per-student funding allocations in NYC by city council district. District 26 is allocated almost a thousand dollars less than the average district.
Queens has low funding and large school sizes relative to other boroughs.
A portion of increased school funding must come as part of the city’s divestment from
our cities carceral systems and towards proactive community safety systems that start in schools. Reinvesting tax dollars into our public schools and away from policing and punitive practices will help support the development of our communities from the ground up. Jonathan believes we must utilize part of these funds to expand mental health services and special needs accommodations. Jonathan will create equity by hiring one mental health and counseling professional per 50 students as well as removing the over 5,000 NYPD officers present in schools who contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.
Jonathan is also calling for equitable funding in order to address the imbalance in educational services exacerbated by COVID-19. Proper ventilation and COVID-19 safety practices are a top priority for Jonathan as we work to get students back in schools. The pandemic has brought immense stress on the psychological and emotional needs of students, and exacerbated pre-existing inequities amongst our families. With proper funding, families will be able to rely on their public schools for these resources — which are essential to students’ development — without paying out of pocket.
Jonathan believes that free universal childcare should be provided through public schools by increasing before- and after-school programs. New Yorkers spend $11,128 on before and after-school care annually, which is 42.9% of the median income. Childcare has become increasingly taxing on parents who are unable to financially support their child’s development alongside regular expenses. Jonathan believes that schools should provide universal childcare as it has been proven to improve literacy outcomes, attentiveness, and reading scores. This will help level the playing field and create an equitable future for families in District 26 who cannot afford to pay for childcare.
2. Community Control of Schools
Jonathan knows that local communities are best equipped to manage their own schools. He will advocate for all schools in District 26 following the community schools model laid out in the Learning Policy Institute report highlighted below. Such programs will help working families prioritize students’ welfare without sacrificing other needs.
Ensuring students’ welfare and meeting families where they are is essential to their learning. In District 26, 1 in 13 students experienced homelessness in the past five years. There are no family shelters in our district as we actively lose affordable housing. Between 2017 and 2022, we are predicted to lose 569 affordable units in comparison to the 57 lost between 2005 and 2016. Over 2,000 students experienced homelessness, chronic absenteeism, dropping out, and suspensions which hinder these students' growth — but through funding free medical care, food programs, and mental health professionals we can improve and advocate for their futures while combating systemic barriers to their success. Jonathan will fight to end homelessness with a robust social housing model which includes a “housing first” approach. You can read his full Land Use and Housing Justice for All platform here.
3. Integrate Our Schools Already
The landmark Brown v Board of Education decision was almost seven decades ago. It is long past time to fully integrate our schools. Jonathan will end reliance on high-stakes testing which perpetuates educational inequity. As we work towards improving our public school system and eliminating the need for specialized schools, Jonathan will fight for the revision or removal of standardized testing alongside Teens Take Charge by advocating for the repeal of Hecht-Calandra at the state level. This will make access to specialized high schools more equitable and remove the need to teach a test. Standardized testing perpetuates segregation in the school district as it gatekeeps access to resources in Black and Brown communities. White and Asian students are admitted at a significantly higher rate than hispanic or Black students citywide according to Teens Take Charge. In order to bridge these educational gaps, Jonathan believes we should allocate a school-provided tutor for every child that is performing below their grade level.
4. Educating a conscious generation
Schools — and the knowledge they impart upon students— are not politically neutral. Schools are one of the sites in which society reproduces itself. The values, ideologies and histories on which we collectively ground our worldview are taught and reinforced in schools. Conservatives already understand this: across the country, from Texas to Idaho, Republicans are proposing and passing bills to ban various methods of historically accurate education about the US. Another in Wisconsin would prevent teachers in all public schools, including universities, from teaching about systemic racism.
Jonathan knows that we are naive if we do not fight back against this historical revisionism with our own accurate, politically conscious educational program. In our anti-colonial platform, we discuss the need to educate students accurately about the historic and current role of the United States on the world stage (you can view the full platform on our website):
Historically accurate education about the role America has played on the world stage — not to mention our historical and economic roots in the genocide of indigenous peoples and enslavement of Black Americans — is a prerequisite to educating a conscious, compassionate generation. In Queens and New York City as a whole, I will fight for an educational program that accurately informs our students of the role that they can play in divesting from colonial systems.
Building a just, democratic, equal society begins in the classroom. We need to actively work to implement a curriculum that is dynamic and historically accurate. The schools in our district must also work alongside families by implementing multicultural education. In District 26, 84% of students are people of color. Multicultural education further helps students become democratic citizens and gain perspectives on injustices in their communities.
5. Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline
New York must learn from its costly mistake and radically transform our funding priorities. Reinvesting in our communities means we would have an opportunity to grow up in healthy, sustainable environments full of love. For young people like me, investing in our communities literally means the difference between life and death.”
- Zion, 16 years old, member of Make the Road New York
New York City’s heavy-handed policing of minor infractions in schools puts Black, brown and immigrant students on the path to incarceration. A stunning 92% of students who are arrested by the NYPD are Black or Latino. This puts thousands of students on the path to prison and exposes undocumented students to identification by ICE. Outside of the direct carceral consequences of heavily policing schools, this punitive approach pulls hundreds of millions of dollars away from counselors, social workers and teachers. In 2017, New York employed more NYPD “school safety division personnel” than guidance counselors and social workers combined.
The punitive approach in schools is racist, expensive and ineffective. Jonathan believes in a new approach — one that prioritizes systems of care, social support for low-income students and the total removal of cops from schools. Jonathan supports utilizing funds divested from policing in schools to invest in more guidance counselors, social workers and smaller class sizes. He also supports using these funds to support social programs for students such as an expansion of the youth jobs program.
You can read our full Peace in our Streets platform here.