Issue Position: Every Child Must Receive an Excellent Education
"The federal mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act have not been supported by federal dollars. We must ensure that every American child receives an excellent education. I will work in Congress to ensure this and every education program is fully funded and I will also work to find new ways to evaluate our childrens' educational abilities, besides just testing alone." - Yvette Clarke
We have a moral obligation to ensure that ALL our children receive a top-quality education. Strong schools build strong communities, and ensure our children's future. I am proud to be a public school graduate and know that my schooling created opportunities for me in higher education and professional success. Our schools are failing to provide the same foundation for our children because they are lacking critical resources such as science labs and computers that provide essential skills for competing in the global job market. Without music, arts and physical education programs, our schools will not be able to empower healthy and well-rounded students to become future teachers, authors, doctors and government leaders. To strengthen our education system, the cornerstone of our citizenship and democracy, we must ensure adequate funding, a qualified workforce and stronger community partnerships.
Some of the keys to a first-class education (including safe, well-maintained schools) are no mystery. We need fewer students per teacher. We need highly motivated and well-trained teachers and administrators. We need sufficient staff to make repairs on a timely basis. We need long-range plans to renovate schools and to build new ones. We need parents who are fully engaged in their children's education and schools that are responsive to those parents.
Funding is a big part of the solution and implementing the decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit must be a priority. This would be a significant step towards correcting the current education funding formula, one that denies NYC school children the "sound, basic education" that they need and deserve. The CFE decision must be implemented now.
With appropriate levels of funding, we will be able to hire more teachers, to pay them competitive wages, and to provide them with high-quality training. We will be able to hire adequate staff to keep our schools in good repair and to give those schools the supplies they need. We will be able to build more schools so that students can learn in less crowded conditions. We will be able to make schools a reasonable size so that administrators will be able to engage with parents whose voices are often not heard or ignored. We will be able to fund our school health clinics and provide school nurses.
Listening to Parents
I know that schools work best with strong community partnerships and parental involvement. I have been an advocate of our school PTAs and will continue to keep the lines of communication open to ensure parents as well as educators have a more effective voice in education policy. Because a child's education should begin and be reinforced at home, I support increasing programs that prepare parents with the skills and resources to be effective models for their children.
Closing Achievement Gaps
Low-income students and students of color are three times more likely than wealthy and white students to drop out of school. Our best chance to end the achievement gap is to make universal free preschool available to every New York child, and I will fight for full funding in the next budget cycle.
CUNY and SUNY offer a high-quality education, but at an increasingly less reasonable price. I will not allow the state budget to be balanced through tuition increases on those New Yorkers who cannot afford it. Clarke will seek our fair share of federal funds such as Pell Grants for Brooklyn students.