Striving for Quality Education

Striving for High Quality Education for Students

Providing a high-quality public education for every student in my district has been one of my guiding principles during my time in office. I have worked hard to safeguard this district’s high quality neighborhood public schools, and have fought with my legislative colleagues and parents for more resources and new schools to relieve the overcrowding we face. I strongly believe that a quality education should include small class sizes where teachers can provide ample individual attention to the students who need it. The challenges created by a lack of space and the emphasis on standardized testing have also pushed out many aspects of a well-rounded curriculum, and I have fought to guarantee that students have access to physical education and the arts, which are an essential part of fostering innovation and critical thinking in our youth.

Placing Limits on High Stakes Testing

For some years there has been a real concern that excessive standardized testing has diminished the quality of teaching, forcing educators to target their efforts on test preparation to the detriment of students’ general education and the development of their critical thinking. Standardized testing has not just squeezed out an emphasis on the development of critical thinking, but now also seems to be impeding students’ connections to their own education. I have worked locally and In Albany to make sure that the concerns of the families in my district are heard, and to push for a reduction in the amount of time spent on standardized tests, as well as their emphasis in teacher and school evaluations. Standardized testing is not in and of itself bad, but its prevalence has created an imbalance is the classroom and education policy that must be corrected.

Bringing a New School to 75 Morton Street

The overdevelopment of New York that occurred under 12 years of the Bloomberg Administration, was hastened by 63 rezonings that dramatically increased the density of neighborhoods across New York. Unfortunately, the Downtown community, while attracting many new buildings, did not receive additional funds to match the infrastructure necessary to support all of the new development. Our schools in particular have been over capacity for years, and I have actively played a role in creating more seats for our students. For seven years and through three successive Governors, elected officials and community activists have sought to have New York State sell the building at 75 Morton Street to the School Construction Authority to be used as a public middle school. Earlier this year, that dream moved one step closer to reality as New York State officially transferred the building at 75 Morton Street to the School Construction Authority (SCA) which will now transform the site into a middle school that will hold at least 800 students. The school will open as soon as the SCA completes a through renovation of the building. Greenwich Village has not had a public middle school since 2010, when the Greenwich Village Middle School relocated to the financial district. Anyone with a child in public school can tell you that school overcrowding is out of control. I’m pleased to report that with 75 Morton Street adding much needed classroom space, we are on our way, and we will stand together until our children are in their new public middle school. I will continue to fight against school overcrowding and ensuring that we have enough school seats for all of our students.

Advocating for Higher Education in New York State

I have served as Chair of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee since 2007, working on the issues facing New York State’s institutions of higher education as well as all professional licensure. I strongly believe that higher education is the primary catalyst for the economic mobility of New Yorkers and the economic growth of our State, and that the SUNY and CUNY public university systems play an essential role in providing affordable and accessible higher education for all. I have worked hard to increase funding for SUNY and CUNY, and to expand opportunities for students by successfully negotiating a rise in the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). I was the lead sponsor of the student lending reform law that ensured transparency in lending and eliminated conflicts of interest between certain banks and colleges. I have been a sponsor and supporter of the New York State DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented students access to the same tuition supports as other New York residents. I have also strongly supported the Governor’s recent initiative to provide full scholarships for students who are in the top ten percent of their graduating high school class and pursuing undergraduate degrees in science, math, and technology (STEM) at a CUNY or SUNY school and work in a STEM job in New York for five years following the completion of their degree.