When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious education agenda this fall, many said its success would come down to a simple question: Can he pull it off?
On Thursday, the education department explained how he plans to start.
This spring, the city will hire 100 “Single Shepherds” slated to work with students in Districts 7 and 23 to help them graduate and prepare for college. Students at 20 middle schools will visit college campuses this spring. And 100 elementary schools in the Bronx and in Brooklyn will have second grade reading specialists next September.
Those details, among others, are the first steps officials are taking to enact de Blasio’s “Equity and Excellence” agenda. That included measures to provide access to Advanced Placement courses in each high school, take thousands of students on college trips, and make sure all students have access to computer science and algebra classes.
Other details have already emerged in a weekly email sent to principals. Schools will begin departmentalizing algebra, or having some fifth-grade teachers specialize in math, in order to to build students’ math skills early on. Principals have also been asked to apply for about 50 available computer science pilot programs.
So far, the city’s plans center around teacher training this spring and pilot programs launching this September.These details do not explain how de Blasio’s initiatives will eventually garner enough resources or teachers to scale citywide. Education department officials called them a first step.
“We are seeing real, concrete progress across all the Equity and Excellence initiatives,” said Will Mantell, spokesman for the education department.
They are also consistent with de Blasio’s strategy to make agenda-setting announcements and then fill in the details. De Blasio released a detailed implementation plan for the city’s pre-K expansion a few weeks after taking office.
And unlike the city’s “Renewal” school-turnaround program, designed to make changes within three years, the newer college-readiness measures are long-term projects. Two of the flashiest initiatives — a plan to teach computer science in every classroom and have all second-grade students reading on grade level — are not slated to be fully realized for about 10 years.