Unsafe schools. Segregation. The achievement gap. Overcrowding. Resources for students with special needs and English language learners.
These were among the many issues that Chalkbeat readers want incoming Chancellor Richard Carranza to make his top priorities as he takes the helm of New York City schools on April 2.
More than 120 parents, teachers, students, school administrators, and others filled out our survey asking what Carranza needs to know as he replaces Carmen Fariña as leader of the nation’s largest school system. Here’s some of what you had to say.
Too often, schools are segregated — and have unequal resources.
“Carranza’s No. 1 priority should be student achievement and diversifying the DOE-NYC’s public schools. Segregation is all too real in NYC, and the schools should replicate the rich culture and diversity of the city.”
— Rashid Johnson, an education non-profit employee
“Segregation in the schools is a grave injustice and is damaging to many students and their families.”
— Michael Mahrer, a teacher at Bronx Design and Construction Academy and a parent on the Upper West Side
“We are so diverse and yet are so segregated. This is a major problem. There are schools whose PTA’s pay for an assistant in each classroom and some schools can’t even get parents to come to the school for a meeting. This is a problem that affects kids in big ways.”
— Hannah Haas, third-grade teacher at P.S. 149 Sojourner Truth
“I am one of the few high school students lucky enough to attend a public high school with an abundance of resources available, and with dedicated and engaged teachers and staff. My school’s students are disproportionately white and wealthy. That people of socioeconomic and racial privilege have an upper hand in the public school system and are often the beneficiary of better educations is unjust.”
— Coco Rhum, Beacon High School junior and member of Teens Take Charge, an education advocacy organization dedicated to elevating student voices
“The teachers in schools where students of color attend are not very strong. They can’t relate to the students and don’t have the pedagogical skills to move their students. This is not true for all teachers but there is a disproportionate amount of unqualified teachers in these schools.”
— Daryl Rock, a former New York City principal and chair of the board at CAMPA Charter School
Parents and teachers of students with special needs have questions.
“How will you fix the system for special education students of normal intelligence who have dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning issues for whom there is no appropriate public school option? Will you open public schools that are equivalent to the private schools? Or will you simplify the reimbursement process for parents whose children must be placed in private schools?”
— Dolores Swirin-Yao, parent at the Aaron School
“What will you do to strengthen our special education approach to teaching students. Our co-teaching model is not working. Special education teachers across the city are feeling burned out from being treated unfairly. General education teachers need more training in the ICT model. Additionally, what are his views for the ELL population, especially the newly arrived high students and the SIFE students.”
— Marilyn Ramirez, special education teacher, High School for Media and Communications
School and community leaders want to feel heard.
“Many languages and cultures exist in NYC and the new chancellor needs to know how to engage these families so the children can succeed.”
— Teresa Arboleda, president of the Citywide Council on English Language Learners.
“The city is diverse — not just the 150+ languages spoken at home, but in cultural differences that drive how parents perceive their role in educating their children. He needs to reach out all of the different cultural groups to be successful.”
— Michelle Noris, parent at the 30th Avenue School, P.S./I.S. 300, and Bard High School Early College Queens
“The system is vast and hard to get your arms around. It’s critical therefore that school principals be instructional leaders with the same vision as the chancellor.”
— Deena Hellman, director of the Star Learning Center at Goddard Riverside Community Center
Individual schools and communities have individual needs.
“Schools in my neighborhood are overcrowded and as a result teachers are not able to provide individualized attention to students, and programs have been cut. New dual language programs were opened in the neighborhood and that has been welcomed by many parents and should be extended.”
— Victoria Quiroz Becerra, Sunset Park parent
“Principals are incentivized to overcrowd schools and make class sizes large. This should change.”
— Jonathan Greenberg, parent at P.S. 212 in Queens
“We need more instructions and clearer guidance on how to use restorative justice practices. Also, gang intervention.”
— Dinah Gieske, a parent and assistant principal at Rockaway Park High School
“I think we need more recognition for the girls who want to come to our school. We want to have the opportunity to go on more trips. I think you should prioritize emotional well-being because a lot of these girls are going through something and it would help if they see how much you care.”
— Tyanna Patten, eighth-grader at the Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn and Teens Take Charge member
“He needs to actually visit the schools and not only go there for the pomp and circumstance of a chancellor’s visit day, but go to see what an actual day looks like — talk to everyone from principal to support staff.”
— Natasha Alexandris, Department of Education Field Support Center employee