“Get rid of Regents tests.” “Higher pay for teachers.” “Increase $ and access for arts education.”
Those are just a few of the hundreds of education suggestions that New Yorkers left for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio in the last couple of weeks at the Talking Transitions tent, a temporary structure erected in Tribeca to host conversations about the city’s next phase.
Dozens of nonprofit and advocacy groups led panel discussions and presentations in the tent, which was created by billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Institute with help from other philanthropies. The tent’s goal was to make the often opaque transition process transparent and open to public influence.
The hastily scheduled events included several with a focus on education. The Dignity in Schools Campaign led a discussion about the future of school discipline; the parent group NYCPublic.org shared the results from its “parent engagement lab”; a coalition of early childhood education advocated laid out their hopes for expanded pre-kindergarten programs; and Families for Excellent Schools, a group that organizes parents at charter schools, brought charter school educators together to discuss instructional practices at their schools. (We even played a role, moderating a panel of principals affiliated with the NYC Outward Bound Schools network.)
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In addition to the conversations, the tent also allowed visitors to leave suggestions for the city’s new leadership on a series of color-coded stickers. We took photographs of some of the blue education suggestions on one of the tent’s final days of operation, and you can see them in the slideshow above.
Most of the stickers reflect the progressive priorities that de Blasio has set up to now. There are even a smattering of “Diane Ravitch for chancellor” stickers. But a few — including a couple that call for the city to gain more charter schools — represent views that seem unlikely to advance under a de Blasio administration.