Maya Wiley Releases Plan To Transform City’s K-12 School System

Wiley’s plan would hire 1,000 teachers and offers a vision of an integrated, forward-thinking, student-centered Department of Education that prepares students to succeed well beyond graduation.

Developed in conjunction with ALL stakeholders, Wiley’s vision will move our schools in a direction that harnesses the genius of students, the vision of our communities, and the energy of the greatest city in the world.

Maya’s plan to transform New York City’s school system is the fourth installment of “50 Ideas for NYC”

NEW YORK – On day four of “50 Ideas for NYC,” Maya Wiley unveiled her plan to transform the New York City K-12 school system. This policy is the product of close consultation with teachers, parents, administrators, community education council leaders, teaching artists, advocates, policy experts, and most importantly – students. Wiley’s plan will ensure our schools are able to respond and support individual and collective cultures while allowing for the structural change needed to achieve equity that has been lacking for decades in the nation’s largest public school system. Wiley’s vision focuses on these core tenants:

  • Healing and helping students thrive after the pandemic;
  • Transforming our schools into centers of creativity, inclusion and exploration;
  • Removing barriers that separate students and label them from an early age;
  • Prioritizing the rights and safety of students.

“We need an education system that meets the needs of our students, our city, the future ahead and this very moment in time,” said Maya Wiley. “For too long, our city’s schools have been guided by the vision of the chosen few, and not by the vision of the people at all levels of the system. My plan will chart forth a course to transform our city’s school system, address the inequity, and begin the processing of healing of our families, and recouping the precious time our city’s students have lost.”

“In the largest public school system in the country, we need a reimagined public education program that meets the unique needs of all students. Maya Wiley’s plan to transform New York City’s K-12 schools will not only help our students recover from the trauma of this pandemic, but will support our teachers, provide universal broadband and tackle the systemic inequities that have existed for far too long,” said NeQuan McLean, longtime Bed-Stuy parent and advocate. “Maya sees the opportunity we have to transform our schools so that they serve students of all backgrounds and as Mayor, that’s what she’ll do.”

Like her other policies, Wiley’s plan will bring a similar comprehensive and bold approach. This includes allocating $100 million dollars towards hiring 1000 new teachers, creating physical and virtual resource hubs for students to supplement in-class learning, ensuring daily arts and culture programming, and increased funding to ensure equal access to our school system for all students of all backgrounds and abilities. The full plan can be viewed here. As Mayor, Maya will support the following:

Elevating Community Voices in Decision-Making – Elevating parent and student voices with an active role in decision making and providing parents and students more effective avenues of input. The Department of Education has lost the trust of families, a fissure ever more apparent in the pandemic.

This lack of trust is greatest in communities of color where a legacy of racism, segregation and underinvestment erodes trust in our public schools, as reflected by the high proportion of BIPOC families who choose fully remote learning this year. Maya will increase student participation by:

  • Creating a Commission on School Governance with parent, community & advocacy representatives to consider the need for stronger checks and balances and more methods for institutionalized parent, student and community input.
  • Making the Chancellor’s and the Boroughs’ Student Advisory Councils selection processes more democratic and transparent;
  • Giving students voting power on existing and new committees and governance bodies, including CCECs and the PEP.  We will also increase the number of students on these bodies, and devise a transparent and fair process for appointing or electing them.
  • Valuing youth agency by giving NYC public school students press passes for the Mayor’s briefings.
  • Creating youth steering boards for every city agency that works with youth to meet with the agency head monthly with questions, needs, and ideas.

Healing and helping students thrive after the pandemic – The pandemic presents an urgent academic challenge for our schools, one that requires the City to change the ways schools support our children. We must provide teachers with the tools and training to address the unprecedented academic challenge for our students, especially for those students who are already left behind, such as those with disabilities, multilingual learners, students in temporary housing and those in foster care. At the same time we must innovate classroom learning strategies based on COVID-19, and we should leverage our newly found experience with technology and remote learning to provide students with new learning opportunities. This includes:

  • Allocating $100 million dollars toward hiring 1000 new teachers to help our students meet the academic and social emotional challenges of the past year through tailored individualised learning.
  • Creating major new investments to build teams at each school to provide academic intervention for students and assist with their mental health needs.
  • Providing universal broadband access and increased access to technology for all students.
  • Drive funds to serve students who need them most, especially in communities most impacted by COVID-19.
  • Empowering and supporting teachers to lead us in recovering from the pandemic.
  • Ensure every school building has a full-time nurse.
  • Supporting all NYC schools in using curriculum, pedagogy, assessments and policies that reflect and respect the histories, cultures, languages, identities and experiences of NYC students in every class, every grade, every day.

Transforming our schools into centers of creativity, inclusion and exploration – A Wiley Administration will bring children out of schools and bring the City into schools to create a culturally-responsive and hands-on educational experience that leverages NYC’s vibrant urban ecosystem, museums and cultural institutions, civics and activism, and physical and social infrastructure. All children will participate in extended collaborative projects that draw from all of these resources and bring them outside traditional school walls as much as possible. They will design sustainable gardens, participate in citizen science studies and work in maker spaces, in culturally responsive activities that span their curriculum.

Our teachers and schools will be scaffolded and assisted in developing these projects with high-quality resources and training. Schools will offer more opportunities for work-based learning and internships for older students, using real-world experiences that tie into programs of study. The City will expand graduation pathways, increasing opportunities for college / career readiness, and online credential programs. Maya will use the lessons learned from the pandemic to take the positive aspects of remote learning to increase students’ options across the board. Our schools must become places where the brilliance and multiple intelligences of every single student are recognized and nurtured in an inclusive environment. Maya is committed to meeting the needs of all students, including those who need more challenge and those who need more support. She will do this in settings that include all students to the greatest extent consistent with their learning needs. This includes:

  • Creating Innovation Resource Hubs to give teachers and administrators the tools to weave students into the texture of our city and take learning beyond the classroom.
  • Supplementing classroom learning with work experience by creating a year-round, universal Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) with multi-year continuity for all high school students who need employment.
  • Building off of our expanding existing innovative models such as P-Tech, City As School, the Brooklyn STEAM Center and the Harbor School.
  • Building on lessons learned during the pandemic and use distance learning more effectively and judiciously to supplement existing course offerings.
  • Keeping school buildings open for recreation and other programming on evenings and weekends, especially in communities in need of safe gathering places
  • Creating accelerated learning models that invest in gifts and talents of all children, which provides strengths based, culturally relevant enrichment. The Innovation Resource Hubs will support the development and implementation of this initiative according to best practices and provide robust training for teachers.
  • Redistributing money spent on testing contracts, Discovery, test prep, tests, test administration, and test grading to fully fund arts programming anrevitalize art education by:
    • Providing daily arts education programming for all of the city’s students in every year of the system, including in non-arts focused high schools.
    • Creating a pathway for every child who wants training in the disciplines evaluated in auditions / portfolio assessments for arts high schools, so that students interested in these disciplines do not need private lessons to be eligible to attend.
    • Better funding and streamlining the hiring of qualified certified arts teachers/specialists, and removing the evaluation of arts teachers currently tied to student performance in subjects other than art.
    • Revitalizing and funding the creation of robust, long-term partnerships with the city’s vast arts and creative resources, including and especially with grassroots, neighborhood organizations rooted in the community.
    • Supporting partnerships between arts teachers and mental health professionals and related service providers for trauma-informed healing arts practices.
    • Using the arts to support our schools in becoming more representative of all cultures and lived experiences so that our students can see that the arts belong to them, and learn about other students and/or communities whose experiences vary from their own.

Removing barriers that separate students and label them from an early age – As a civil rights lawyer and co-chair of the School Diversity Advisory Group (SDAG), Maya will pay particular attention to breaking down the structural inequities that unfairly sort and segregate our children. She will eliminate admissions policies that have created segregated schools and limited access to resources for families across the city; expand the use of restorative justice programs that minimize the use of exclusionary disciplinary tactics, including an unnecessary reliance on the NYPD and EMS; fully support multilingual learners and their parents; and ensure that students with disabilities are given their legal rights and an effective and inclusive continuum of services. She will also address the current impartial hearing crisis, so that parents of students with disabilities will have a functional and timely mechanism for addressing concerns. This includes:

  • Creating racially integrated schools through community collaboration and innovation. Maya will build on the recommendations of the SDAG, and remove the many barriers that have led our richly diverse city to become the most segregated large district in the country. Drawing inspiration from the “Real Integration” model developed by the students of IntegrateNYC and the bold policy proposals of Teens Take Charge, she will eliminate admissions policies that have segregated schools and limited access to resources for families across the city, such as using redlined district boundaries discriminatory admissions screens, and overly complex and time-consuming application processes. Instead, Maya will build an inclusive, community-based approach to assigning children to our public schools. As recommended by the SDAG, this integration planning will be borough rather than district-focused. And we must ensure that every public school in the City is bountiful, joyful and equipped to meet the needs of all learners.
  • Appointing a Chief Integration and Equity Officer to oversee the process, ensure tight, achievable timeframes, and coordinate between agencies to reduce mutually reinforcing patterns of residential and school segregation.
  • Discontinuing the use of other school admissions policies that exacerbate segregation, such as discriminatory screens and difficult to navigate application processes that eliminate many families from participation.
  • Simplifying admissions processes so that each level of schooling will have the same application process, including charter schools.  Maya will also increase support to help families with application processes from 3-K through high school using resource centers, and leveraging existing partnerships with community-based organizations.

Prioritizing the rights and safety of students – School safety should be about creating a safe and healthy environment in which students can  thrive. Now that this function is moving to DOE, we have an opportunity to recenter it around a holistic approach to safety instead of an overreliance on discipline and police intervention. This includes:

  • Reforming school safety efforts to make a holistic commitment to supporting the well-being of students rather than using punitive and reactive measures.
  • Ensuring that every student is well known and supported by at least one adult by building capacity at middle and high schools to provide robust advisory programs.
  • Ensuring that every child attends a school with a full-time social worker, and can access other needed support through partnerships with community-based mental health providers.
  • Minimizing the role of police, EMS, or child welfare services in responding to the vast majority of student behavior, including emotional crises or distress. We will work on the protocols and rules that ensure that police or EMS are called appropriately and rarely. School safety will focus on meaningful support and the prevention of problems.
  • Removing the school safety role from NYPD and transforming the role to one of supporting restorative justice and retrain school safety agents so they can effectively support students’ social-emotional and behavioral needs.
  • Expanding and implementing school-wide restorative justice practices in all schools.
  • Eliminating disparities by race and disability in school discipline, including suspensions.

Ensuring Student Rights – Prioritizing the rights and safety of students also means ensuring the civil rights of all students, including those with disabilities and multilingual learners (MLLs) who for too long have been denied their legally mandated services and protections due to DOE mismanagement. Our schools will also become safe harbors for children of all identities; A Wiley administration will make sure that no child is denied a positive, inclusive school experience because of their race, ethnicity, ability to speak English, disability or LGBQTIA status. This includes:

  • Improving services for students who are homeless and for those in foster care by creating a DOE office to address the unique needs of these students.
  • Launching an interagency initiative to tackle educational barriers for students who are homeless, and providing:
    • Intensive social services in shelters that serve families, including connections between the shelters and the schools attended by their children.
    • $5 million for bus service for students in foster care to increase school stability.
    • Full restoration of and expansion of DOE field staff who support homeless students.
    • The full spectrum of mandated and compensatory IEP services for homeless students with disabilities.
    • Providing staff in each shelter who are qualified and equipped to support students’ educational needs.
    • Universal wireless access in shelters.
  • Ensuring that students are provided their legally mandated rights, and improve accountability so that students with disabilities are served according to established legal requirements.
  • Ensuring that students with disabilities have access to a wider range of high-quality programs and services, which will be provided on time, in accordance with legally mandated procedures.
  • Serving as many children in as integrated settings as possible by breaking down unnecessary boundaries between the system that serves students with the most significant disabilities
  • Provide an intensive focus on early diagnosis and remediation of learning disabilities, especially reading disabilities.
  • Taking aggressive steps to reduce the backlog of special education hearings.
  • Implementing and fully funding the New York Immigration Coalition’s Education Collaborative’s Communications Plan.
  • Ensuring that MLLs have access to a broader range of high-quality and inclusive programming so they can fully participate and thrive in the classroom.
  • Expanding dual language and transitional bilingual programs in communities with high populations of multilingual learners, starting in 3-K.
  • Creating additional programs and support for MLL high school students, such as night school and remote options to address the higher dropout rates among this group.
  • Partnering with multilingual communities and the trusted non-profits who support specific immigrant groups to expand offerings that honor and celebrate the gifts of emerging multilingual learners.
  • Providing specialized support to Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFEs), through incorporating strong home language literacy development with more traditional English as a New Language (ENL) classes, as well as increased access to trauma informed counseling, and the creation of support groups for students in similar situations, and their families.

 Maya’s plan to transform the New York City school system is the fourth installment of “50 ideas for NYC”, which will continue to highlight the many ideas Maya has proposed throughout this campaign to make New York a better city for everyone.

To date, Maya has been endorsed by 1199SEIU, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson, Assembly Member Latoya Joyner, Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Steve Levin, and former City Council Member Jimmy Vacca. She has also received the endorsement of the New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN) and Democracy For America.

Since entering the race, Wiley has put out a number of policy proposals, including her New Deal New York, a piece of her economic vision that will create 100,000 jobs; a plan to save small business; a Universal Community Care plan to provide $5,000 grants for the 100,000 most in-need New York City Caregivers; her Community First Climate Plan; a proposal to combat gun violence; and a plan to fight evictions.