Secondary Navigation

Education Remarks by Mayor Bill de Blasio, "Equity and Excellence", as Prepared for Delivery

September 16, 2015

Thank you, Mariela.

Mariela turned 26 yesterday – let’s all wish her a happy birthday! And at 26, she has so much to be proud of. She strove for what seemed unimaginable – and she succeeded. And there is perhaps no more noble way Mariela can use her gifts and share her success than by helping today’s children find success for themselves. She embodies what we want for all our children. I want to thank Mariela Regalado for all of her tremendous work.

It’s an honor to be here at Bronx Latin. I want to thank Principal Annette Fiorentino of Bronx Latin and the principals at the two other schools that share this building: Principal Julia Baly of Bronx Career and College Prep, and Principal Richard Burke of Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School.

Thank you to my fellow elected officials in attendance: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan, Senate Education Chair Carl Marcellino, and Council Education Chair Danny Dromm. Thank you to the Borough Presidents, District Attorneys, Members of Congress, the State Legislature, and the City Council who have joined us.

I want to thank our inimitable Schools Chancellor, Carmen Fariña, and the other administration officials who work so hard each day on behalf of our children and all New Yorkers.

There’s an old saying that “behind every great man stands a great woman” – in my house, it’s beside every great man stands a great woman. I want to thank my partner in everything I do, my love, and the First Lady of New York City – Chirlane McCray.

We’re so happy to be here, because the kids and educators at Bronx Latin exemplify what we want to see, and what we are going to see, at schools all across the city. Bronx Latin looks like a lot of our schools – 92 percent of its students live in poverty. But a love of learning permeates every corner of this place. Students excel in so much, from English to biology to history. 89 percent of them graduate in four years. Bronx Latin students are showing us the future of New York City education. Because what’s happening at Bronx Latin can happen at any school in our city – and it will.

The nearly 600 students who strode through the doors here last Wednesday are among the more than 1.1 million public school children who gathered their notebooks, zipped up their schoolbags, and put another New York City summer behind them.

I know I felt a tidal wave of emotion wash over the whole city, as it always does the first day of school. There was so much joy, excitement, and trepidation flooding sidewalks, school hallways, all the cars, buses and trains carrying families to school in neighborhoods from the South Bronx to the South Shore.

My wife Chirlane and I know those emotions very well. Actually, this September is the first in 17 years we haven’t been among the public school parents waving goodbye at the school entrance – swallowing an ocean of feelings as Dante or Chiara walked away into the school year.

In fact, we just sent our youngest off to college. What a mix of feelings that was.

Every family sends their children to school on that first day expecting great things. They want their children to learn and to grow, to be safe and to make friends, to do well in school, and, eventually, to graduate and go on to a bright future.

Just as every parent wants this success for their own child, we want it for all of New York City’s children. So our schools must prepare every single student to achieve their highest potential.

In other words, schools must run on the twin engines of equity and excellence.

Let’s take stock of where we are now. We have so much to be proud of, and to build on.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP – the nation’s gold standard for measuring “what America's students know and can do” – tells us just how extraordinary our students are. In 2013, students in seven of the 10 largest U.S. cities took NAEP’s exam. Only San Diego – a district roughly one-tenth of the size of New York City – scored higher than us in English and Math.

And of this group of cities, our low-income students demonstrated the highest proficiency in reading and the second-highest proficiency in math.

The roots of that achievement grow right here at Bronx Latin, where all 571 students are offered a chance to attend Saturday Academies throughout the year. Principal Fiorentino says that typically, about 300 students show up on any given Saturday morning – 300 coming to do SAT and Regents prep. Those of you who have ever lived with a child, you know how hard it can be to get one out of bed on a Saturday – much less 300.

The roots of our achievement grow in places like Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School – better known by its acronym, WHEELS. One afternoon a few years ago, I had the privilege to walk to the local post office with the senior class, their families, and the broader community. This was no ordinary errand – it was a thrilling procession to celebrate and honor the mailing off of each student's college applications – a triumphant moment for the entire community.

And the roots of that achievement grow in places like P.S. 69, in the heart of Soundview here in the Bronx. Last year, Chancellor Fariña and I visited P.S. 69, where Principal Sheila Durant invites parents into the school to work on homework with children and teachers. Families can see first-hand what their kids are learning, and learn themselves how to help their kids study and succeed.

To fully appreciate these accomplishments, we must take a moment to see how far we’ve come and recognize some of the achievements of our predecessors. The Bloomberg administration deserves great credit for winning the fight for mayoral control of the schools, a fight that stretched all the way back to the Beame administration in the 1970s.

My predecessors fought for mayoral control because it’s just common sense. Instead of having an appointed school board in charge, accountable to no one, the Mayor has the power to drive change in the system, and is held responsible for it by our families. I can tell you that none of the big changes we have made in our schools, and none of the changes we are going to make, would be possible without mayoral control.

That’s why leaders of every political persuasion support mayoral control. Mayor Beame, Mayor Koch, and Mayor Dinkins all believed in it. Even Mayor Giuliani agrees that mayoral control, in his words, is “absolutely essential for the future progress and development of New York City schools.” The numbers bear this out – graduation rates have risen since Mayoral Control began in 2002, paving the way for the record-breaking graduating class of 2014.

More than 51,000 students graduated high school in 2014, reflecting the highest graduation rate in the city’s history – that’s 50 percent more students than a decade ago. The class of 2014 also had the fewest dropouts of any other class since New York State started keeping records.

And it’s no surprise that this kind of academic success goes hand in hand with another deeply important kind of success—most New York parents feel good about their children’s schools. In our survey of nearly half a million public school parents, the overwhelming majority told us they like their schools, and believe teachers are doing the best they can to help their child learn.

The city has been blessed with smart, hardworking, dedicated, and determined children, parents, and educators. Over the years, they have written success stories that transformed lives, lifted up communities, and made their mark on the city, the country and the world.

But there simply have not been enough of those success stories. We want many more.

There is a Tale of Two Cities in our schools – and we will not accept it. Each and every child, in each and every classroom, deserves a future that isn’t limited by their zip code.

We must equip children with the skills they need for success, and that will look different for everyone. Any given senior class might have a student laser-focused on college, another heading to learn a trade, and another who plans to launch right into a career in art or music.

The choice is theirs. The responsibility to give them choices, by instilling in them the right knowledge and skills, and priming them to be lifelong learners, is ours.

And that is what America itself is all about. The American dream—the idea that any of us can be anything we want to be—is entrenched in our moral DNA. We’ve inherited a belief so strong it’s almost biological: that this land’s riches derive from the success of its people—and that success is available to anyone who puts in the time and the sweat to earn it.

Public education is, and always has been, the key to this dream.

That is why we reject a status quo that puts the dream out of reach for too many – a status quo that is un-American, and unfaithful to the legacy and the promise of New York City.

Excellence and achievement cannot, and should not, discriminate.

Our students are competing against others from across the globe, and must master skills that my generation never had to. Our continued success as a 21st century global city depends on it.

And as we increase the number of student success stories, we have to make sure success is as common in East New York as it is on the Upper East Side.

So: we know that not every single child will choose to go to college—and you’ll hear a lot more in the next few months about how we’ll be supporting many of those students at our Career and Technical High Schools.

But, we believe every single child should have the chance to go to college. Education determines economic destiny more now than at any other point in human history. And nowhere is that clearer than when we look at the life of a young person who has earned a college degree. A college graduate earns $1.1 million more over the course of a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma, and a college graduate in New York City is nearly three times less likely to struggle with poverty.

We have set two connected goals around equity and excellence to lift up more of our children, and to meet the needs of a growing, thriving city.

First, more of our students must graduate from high school.

The graduation rate for most big American cities is in the 60 percent range. Some cities only graduate half of their students.

Here, in New York City, our graduation rate is 68.4 percent. And our students have to meet the highest standards in the entire nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But 68.4 percent is simply not enough. So I am saying to you now—we will reach a high school graduation rate of 80 percent over the next ten years.

Our second major goal is to make sure our high school graduates have the skills they need to make it to the next level. Right now, fewer than half – 47.3 percent – of our graduates are academically ready for college.

Think about all of those graduates who will decide not to go to college—not because they don’t want to, or don’t have the talent—but because they know that we didn’t prepare them.  Or all of those graduates who will go to college, but then drop out because they can’t keep up with the work.  Or those students who can only make it through college by taking remedial classes—forcing colleges to teach the skills our high schools should have, and making college more expensive.

For these reasons, for too many families in this city, college is not a reality. And in a day and age when a college degree is the best ticket to a good job, the middle class, and lifelong economic security, we absolutely cannot allow this to continue.

So we will increase the number of public high school graduates who are ready for college from fewer than half  to at least two-thirds by 2026.

And we will make sure those graduates are coming from every corner of the city. Excellence will not be apportioned out for the lucky few. Every single high school in New York City will graduate more college-ready students.

Equity – and excellence.

Today, I’ll describe our vision of how we get there. Over the past 20 months, we have made transformative investments in our public schools. For the first time in our history, every four year-old has been offered free, full-day, high quality pre-kindergarten. Nothing is more important for equity and excellence than establishing a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning.

And, for the first time in our history, every middle school student has access to a free, high-quality afterschool program. This allows us to extend the school day for tens of thousands of students with additional learning opportunities. Our students’ test scores are up for the second consecutive year—and the first full year on our watch. Change is underway for students and schools all over the city. But we have more work to do to bring our vision of equity and excellence to life.

We must continue to work with educators, not against them. We have redefined this relationship, premised on the deep respect we have for educators’ expertise, and the hard work they do every day. I want to thank some of the labor leaders joining us today for their collaboration: Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers; Ernie Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators; and Henry Garrido, Executive Director of DC 37.

Their leadership inspires talented educators all over the city—teachers who we want to stay in the profession and in our school system.

So we have established more than 1,000 master, model, and other lead teacher positions to reward and retain our best teachers. They are on the front lines of cultivating more expert educators for the future.

The vast majority of our educators are talented, passionate, and deeply dedicated to their students and schools. There are, however, some teachers who have shown that they shouldn’t be in the profession. From April 2014 to April 2015, we helped 660 educators find their way out of the New York City school system. This shows we are willing and able to make the change that’s necessary. Where it’s needed, we will replace school leadership or staff to transform a school if they cannot improve with our tailored and targeted support.

We are investing in deepening teachers’ skills through professional development at every grade. This is something the Chancellor—who started as a rookie teacher 50 years ago and has held nearly every level of job in our public education system since then—speaks about with particular passion.

She believes that the best way to improve teaching is to spread what works—connecting the whole education system so educators can lift each other up, with expert educators spreading best practices to their fellow teachers and principals.

We’ve done this among our district schools, and we will now reach farther.

The Chancellor and I share the same feeling that every child is our child, whether they attend a district school, a charter school, a private school, or a parochial school—because ultimately, every student will be part of the city’s future. Parochial and charter schools have already been wonderful partners in our pre-k and afterschool efforts.

And we have been working closely with charter schools, exchanging ideas and helping all our schools get better. Over the past 20 months, the Chancellor has criss-crossed the city visiting charter schools, and she shows no sign of stopping. 

Chancellor Fariña and I know the two-way exchange between charter and district schools is essential, and gets at the heart of why charters were created: to foster innovative ideas that could then be shared. And we know that our district schools—schools like Bronx Latin, WHEELS, P.S. 69, and many more across the city have a great deal to share as well.

Today, we take the next step to deepen our work with charters. We will take our successful model of “spreading what works” to partner district and charter schools, based on common practices and areas of strength—and the City will provide the resources these schools need to best learn from one another.

We’ll start with partnerships focused on strengthening teaching for English Language Learners or innovative math instruction. By 2017, there will be at least 25 partnerships bringing together at least 50 district and charter schools to work together on an enormous range of strategies to make sure all our schools better serve our kids.

Our quest for the best and most innovative ways to educate our children led us to create 126 PROSE Schools across the city. In collaboration with our teachers, we’ve created these schools to be free of normal work rules, and educators are using this freedom to really think differently about teaching. We will take the most successful elements of these efforts and bring them to other schools around the city.

Of course, there is no single, special ingredient that guarantees school success. Instead, there are the six elements that make up what we call the Framework for Great Schools.

In looking at 2013 evaluations, schools that were strong on all six measures were also six times more likely to score above the city average on English—and more likely to score above the city average in math, as well.

So what are these six measures?

First, the Framework captures the high standards that are the hallmark of our education system. Aiming high is absolutely at the core of who we are. New York’s commitment to Common Core means we have the highest standards in the country.

And we are ensuring that our students can successfully learn advanced material by giving our educators the preparation and support they need to teach to Common Core standards.

The second part of the Framework calls for teachers to work collaboratively with one another to share what works, and figure out what doesn't.

Third, students and educators need to feel safe and supported in their school environment.

Fourth, parents must feel welcome in every way, and there must be a strong and open line of communication between home and school.

Fifth, school leaders need to have a strong vision while being open to feedback from teachers, families, and students.

Sixth, a sense of real trust must run throughout the school community. Teachers need to trust one another and school leaders. Parents and educators must build trust together. And every single student must feel deeply that all those around them are working to support their journey to graduation, college, or a career.

Equity – and excellence.

We’re using our Framework as the basis for supporting schools—and evaluating them. We want parents to have the information they really need. That’s why we’ve replaced the old school report cards and single letter grades, which misled families by oversimplifying what it means to be a strong school.

Now, parents will have School Quality Snapshots at their fingertips. Next month, we will release updates to these snapshots that convey how a school is doing in the categories that matter most, using the elements of the Framework, in addition to traditional measures of achievement, like test scores.

We believe, of course, that tests are important. But tests are an important thing, not the only important thing. Tests tell you what needs to improve—not how to get it done.

To get it done takes something deeper and richer—great teachers in constant communication with involved parents. That’s what gets the job done.

Our commitment to children also demands that we address their needs outside the classroom. We believe in overcoming obstacles that stand in the way of coming to school ready and willing to learn.

That’s why we have launched our Community Schools initiative. This month marks the moment when every last one of the 130 schools we have targeted completes its transformation into a Community School.  Each one is different, but all Community Schools have a strategy to help their students succeed by working with community partners to tackle different kinds of needs.

All Community Schools offer free vision exams and glasses so kids can see the board, thanks to homegrown New York City eyewear company Warby Parker. Some schools might have a food pantry so hunger doesn’t distract from learning. Others might have a physician’s office on site to keep kids healthy so they don’t miss school. Still others might offer English classes for families so parents can help kids with their homework.

Even when students are getting the support they need both inside and outside the classroom, finding the path to college can remain an enormous challenge—especially for children who would be the first in their families to attend college.

We know what a difference a knowledgeable helping hand can make along that path. The same person who year after year can help set goals and overcome obstacles. The person who can offer moral support when you’re down, help you choose the right high school, and remind you when your financial aid forms are due. The person who knows and cares about you, and who you know has your back.

For many children, a parent, sibling, teacher or a guidance counselor plays that role. But we know that far too many others lack that helping hand. Too many children lack that person who will stick with them the whole way through, and help make the dream of college or a career a reality.

So it’s time for something new. Next year, every single 6th through 12th grader in two of our most underserved communities—the South Bronx’s District 7, and Central Brooklyn’s District 23, will have their first meeting with their Single Shepherd.

Think of the Single Shepherd as a cross between a guidance counselor, a mentor, and a life coach.

Because Shepherds will begin working with students as early as sixth grade and remain with them for years, they’ll be able to develop strong relationships with children and their families and provide access to the academic, social, and emotional support students need to succeed.

Shepherds will step in when things are tough and make sure all our students are progressing toward their academic goals— including English proficiency for our English Language Learners and Individualized Education Plan goals for our students with disabilities.

This is the kind of intense and dedicated support that students in many schools— public, private, parochial, and charter alike—often take for granted. But we know what it will mean for those who really need it.

Equity – and excellence.

I’ve shared a lot with you about our vision of equity and excellence, and I want to illustrate this work, and share how it could come alive, through a day in the life of some of our students.

We’ll start first thing in the morning. It’s 8:15 a.m., and a four year-old is intently focused on building a tower of blocks, stacking carefully as her classmates play behind her—some singing with a teacher, some drawing early masterpieces, some gazing at beginner books. It’s a lively place, filled with the sounds and colors that awaken young children to the world.

This is the critical moment where success begins. We fundamentally believe that all children must start their education earlier, so that every student enters kindergarten ready to learn.

We cannot get education right if we do not get it right from the beginning. And I’m very proud that last week, we got it right for more than 65,000 of our kids, who began free, universal, high-quality pre-K. That’s more than three times the number of full-day pre-K seats that were available just two years ago—and more than the entire school district of Boston. At this very moment, block towers are rising all across our great city.

Around the same time, across town, a second grader rides the bus to school with her mother, proudly showing off the book her class has been reading—explaining what it’s about, and which character she played in a class read-aloud yesterday. Her mom is, of course, filled with pride, and smiles knowingly . . . because yesterday, her child’s teacher called for a few minutes just to share that same good news on our second grader’s reading progress.

It’s impossible to overemphasize the value of these kinds of interactions. Parents are at the center of a child’s journey to success. They are the first and last teachers of our children, and must be our partners in everything we do.

That’s why we knocked on the doors of 35,000 parents at our 94 Renewal Schools this summer to make sure families knew what to expect in the year ahead. It’s why we instituted an unprecedented 40 minutes of teacher time every week solely dedicated to connecting with parents. This is the time during which our teacher made her phone call to talk to our little reader’s mother.

And our second grader’s proud emergence as a reader is a momentous milestone in her life. Reading is the very baseline of lifelong success. The research is in: students who are not reading on grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers.

And investing in reading early—in second grade—gives teachers and students extra time to make sure that our kids have mastered reading. Waiting till the third-grade year may be too late for some, and that is a risk we are not willing to take.

So we are making an unprecedented investment in our schools to make sure that every second grader receives the gift of reading. In 2017, every single student at the 472 elementary schools that need it most will have access to an expert reading specialist, who will help struggling second graders get on track and stay on track. The next year, all our elementary school students will have access to a reading specialist.

That means within six years, at least two-thirds of students will be able to read with fluency by the end of second grade. And our goal is to have all second graders reading with fluency by 2026. Teachers will track students’ progress through nationally-recognized assessments, and provide the right kind of additional support to those kids who need it.

This will change the trajectories of some of our students’ lives, particularly those with disabilities and English Language Learners.

Another example of equity – and excellence.

Let’s go back to this day in the life of our children. Let’s imagine it’s a few hours later, and an eighth grader is hunched over an algebra book in the library at noon. She’s concentrating as hard as she can, and after weeks of work, she finally gets it, grasping that classic formula . . . A squared plus B squared equals C squared. It’s a real eureka moment.

Eighth grade—and all of middle school—is when children acquire and hone so much of the knowledge that will make them critical thinkers who can perform the advanced work that higher education, and the jobs of our global economy, demand.

One of these key skills is algebra. Students who successfully pass Algebra by the end of 9th grade are more likely to graduate from high school, and go on to college or a career. But many students don’t pass algebra by the end of 9th grade because we haven’t prepared them to succeed in the class.

Today, we are proud to announce a transformation in math education in this city. The future for our kids is Algebra for All.

Beginning in 2016, we will expand the number of middle school algebra classes to give more of our students a head start. We will put in place the academic support our kids need, including algebra-focused summer school and after-school programming.

We will make sure every single student is ready to take algebra, can pass algebra, and then move on to the more advanced high school math that will help open the doors to college.

Equity – and excellence.

Another part of being ready for college, of course, comes when a student can really imagine themselves there. And nothing is more powerful than stepping foot on a college campus early enough in life to spark the belief that you actually belong there.

Perhaps down the hall from our eighth grader and her algebra book, a classmate is holding a piece of paper with the potential to change her life—a permission form to actually go visit a college next week. When she visits that campus, she’ll be the first in her family to see the inside of a college classroom.

We want our kids to see this potential future for themselves. Walking through a campus, meeting professors and students who look like you and come from the neighborhood you came from, having lunch at the all-you-can-eat cafeteria…all this gives students a glimpse of what is possible. That simple spark can summon the inspiration our children need to do what it takes to get to that college campus—not as a visitor for just one day, but as a student for four years.

So today, we are introducing College Access for All, inspiring entire families’ dreams of college by giving every single student—and their families—the chance to visit a campus by the time he or she enters 9th grade.

I’d like to acknowledge the leaders of some of the city’s finest universities, here with us today: James B. Milliken, Chancellor for the City University of New York; John Sexton, President of New York University; Joyce Brown, President of the Fashion Institute of Technology; and James J. Valentini, Dean of Columbia College. We are grateful that all will be welcoming our children to their schools with open arms.

Once our students can truly see themselves in college, we will make it real and achievable by equipping high schools with the resources they need to create a truly “college-ready culture.”

By 2018, every high school in every neighborhood in New York City will be able to create an individual college plan tailored to every single student. Because each student is different, each will need different supports. Some will need advice choosing the right college, writing essays, getting and completing applications, and submitting their financial aid forms. Some might need help preparing for the SATs. Others might benefit from being paired with a college student who can serve as a mentor. And many families will participate in financial aid workshops to help them afford college.

And we will continue to forcefully advocate for passage of the New York State DREAM Act so that our undocumented students have the greatest possible access to college. CUNY has been a leader in facilitating access to its institutions for undocumented students and we thank you for that, Chancellor Milliken.

Let’s return to the day in the life of our students. Let’s imagine it’s now 3:30pm, and a tenth grader in one of our Renewal Schools is absorbed in Maya Angelou’s classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. As a recent immigrant, she needs to pass the English Regents to graduate—so her school has given her, and the 15 other English Language Learners in the class, an expanded learning period to focus on English, and a special curriculum to help them engage with the text. It’s working – she’s deep in her chapter.

Expanded learning time is an extra hour of instruction each day, and a hallmark of our 94 Renewal Schools, where we are implementing sweeping reforms.

And less than a year in, we’re seeing the results. Renewal Schools are beginning to rewrite futures all across this city. Attendance—a leading indicator of academic improvements— has gone up at 72 of the 94 schools.

The number of suspensions last year dropped dramatically from the prior year, at a rate much faster than the rest of the city. Test scores overall were up in 2015.

Teachers at Renewal Schools are more confident in the direction of their schools—fully two-thirds say they wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

And—this is a big one—during the last school year, almost 7 out of 10 Renewal School families communicated with their child’s teacher at least once a month, with more than half meeting teachers in person. More parents are taking time out of a life that’s probably filled to the brim with a challenging combination of work, childcare, or possibly schooling of their own. They are understanding what an incredible impact they can have when they participate in the academic life of their child.

With Renewal Schools, we’re investing in places that never received the help they needed. And in high schools all over our city, for too many of our students, the highest quality classes were beyond their reach because they weren’t even offered in their school building.

So we have set our sights on another extraordinary opportunity to propel our children down the road to college or a career. We know students who take Advanced Placement, or AP, classes are twice as likely to graduate college in five years, compared to those who don’t.

But while AP courses offer a path to excellence, our schools have fallen short of equity in the availability of those courses. Too many of our schools, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, have offered few or no AP classes.

Today, that ends. We are growing equity and excellence by announcing AP for All. By 2020, a range of Advanced Placement classes will be available not just to some students, in some schools—but to every single student, everywhere in the city.

I want to take this opportunity to thank David Coleman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the College Board, for his particular commitment to help students with disabilities and English Language Learners gain greater access to college-level work.

Let’s go back to our school day and imagine that at another school, a few miles away, an eleventh grader sits with three classmates. They're all intently staring at a computer monitor glowing a few inches in front of them, as several other teams of students are across the packed classroom.

Blocks of color tumble across the computer screen—it looks basic, but it’s actually the opening part of the computer game our eleventh grader's team has spent the entire day building and coding. Our eleventh grader holds her breath as she waits for the final color block to fall into place...and it does. She and her tablemates erupt into laughs and high fives.

Today, you don’t see this scene very often in our schools. Fewer than 5% of all public school students have an opportunity to learn Computer Science, and until recently those who did had been clustered in just a few high-performing schools. And when you do find students in computer class, they’re learning word processing or typing. What they should be learning is how to code.

This is not excellence or equity.

Think about the world we live in now. Hundreds of thousands of good jobs will be accessible to those with coding and other essential skills. These jobs also demand the subtler qualities that are cultivated by computer science learning, like teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity.

Today, we are proud to announce that our new initiative, Computer Science for All, will provide a computer science education to every single public school student in New York City within ten years.

Computer Science for All is a historic $81 million public-private partnership, and I am grateful for the leadership of CSNYC, an organization led by entrepreneur Fred Wilson, that is singularly devoted to this mission. Thanks to Fred and to our inaugural partners, the Robin Hood Foundation and the AOL Charitable Foundation, every city dollar will be matched with one from the private sector as part of the nation’s largest effort to expand computer science for children.

In ten years, we will be the largest school district in the nation to provide computer science to every elementary, middle, and high school student.

And thanks to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the City Council, additional investments will help give schools in underserved areas the resources they need to integrate technology into classrooms. Through a collaboration with DOE and the Center for Technology and School Change at Teachers College, a number of schools will get valuable technology training and support to help their kids learn better.

Computer Science for All shows the extraordinary power of the private sector to help our children on their road to a career. The city’s businesses are also stepping up as part of our efforts to give 100,000 kids internships, mentorships, and summer jobs annually by 2020. This will include all our most vulnerable children in foster homes and homeless shelters.

Equity – and excellence.

Let’s go back one last time to the day in the life of our students. The night passes, the sun rises behind the skyline, and in our story it’s 8:00 a.m. A high school senior grabs her buzzing phone off the kitchen table. It’s lighting up with text messages from her mother, her Single Shepherd, the manager at the internship she just finished – and all the messages are variations on one theme: “Go get ‘em!”

Our student takes a deep breath, and catches the elevator right before the doors close. She’s on her way out the door for a college interview.

That isn’t, of course, where the story ends. We’ve done right by her by instilling not just the knowledge she needs, but confidence and belief in herself. We’ve given her the tools and created in her a true sense of hope.

That’s how education in New York City has to work.

In other words: we must show each of our kids we believe in their ability to excel. And we must give our children—all of our children—the opportunity to show us we’re right.

Media Contact
(212) 788-2958