De Blasio Unveils School Initiatives Including More Computer Sciences


Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced new reforms to New York City public schools to promote “equity and excellence” in the school system. These plans include expanding Advanced Placement classes to every school, providing Computer Science classes for students from elementary to high schools, college access programs, literacy by 2nd grade, and making sure that all students complete an Algebra course by 9th grade.

The City will have to commit $186 million annually to the new programs. By 2026, the goal is to have 80 percent of students graduating from high school on time, compared to 68 percent today. Based on new standards aligned with the Common Core, two-thirds of graduating students will be fully prepared for college. All students are expected to be reading in 2nd grade.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

“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 the zip code of their birth,” said de Blasio. “Our schools must run on the twin engines of equity and excellence. These reforms take tools proven to drive success and make them the new standard for every student and every school. These are the building blocks that will ensure our students and this city can compete in a world that demands more education than at any time in our history.”

The plan to expand Advanced Placement classes to all schools will cost $51 million a year by 2022, when it is expected to be fully phased in. Although the Department of Education implemented its own AP Expansion program, over 100 schools still do not offer AP courses. Around 40,000 high school students attend schools where AP classes are not offered. Low-income and minority students take fewer AP courses than their peers. About 44 percent of black and Hispanic students are prepared take AP courses compared to 66 percent of their white and Asian peers, according to the release.

Public Advocate Letitia James
Public Advocate Letitia James

“A strong education is the bedrock of a strong community. Every child should be afforded the tools and resources to be reading at grade level, to learn competitive computer skills, and to take advanced placement courses. Today’s proposals by Mayor de Blasio will help ensure that students in every corner of our City are given the same opportunities. All children in this City deserve a world-class education to compete in a modern, global society,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

The City will need to provide $81 million over the next 10 years to provide 1.1 million students with a computer science education by 2025. This program, entitled Computer Science for All, will be funded through a public-private partnership between the City and CSNYC, Robin Hood Foundation, and AOL Charitable Foundation. The private sector will be matching City funds 1:1. 

“All of us at Robin Hood, New York City’s largest poverty fighting organization, are thrilled to partner with the Mayor, the Chancellor, Fred Wilson and others to make sure that every single public school student has access to a teacher trained in computer science. If computer science isn’t as essential as reading, writing and arithmetic, it’s real close. Robin Hood’s partnership with the City and brilliant leaders of the tech world will ensure that New York City’s public school students will succeed in the jobs of the future,” said David Saltzman, Executive Director of the Robin Hood Foundation.

The City will spend $20 million a year to provide students with college access programs. Around 500,000 students, grades 6 to 12, will be provided with resources to facilitate their path to college, including application assistance, college student mentors, and financial strategizing. Of that funding, $5 million will go towards taking students to visit college campuses.

To achieve the City’s goal of universal 2nd grade literacy by 2026, $75 million a year will go towards ensuring that there are dedicated reading specialists in every elementary school for the City’s 76,000 2nd graders. Students who are learning English and students with disabilities will receive extra support and guidance. The six-year goal is to have at least two-thirds of students reading by 2nd grade.

By 2022, $19 million a year will go towards implementing new Algebra classes and preparation programs to ensure that every student completes an Algebra class no later than 9th grade. Currently, 15,000 8th grade students attend schools where Algebra is not offered. Fewer than 30 percent of these 8th graders take the Algebra Regents. The hope is to prepare students for higher-level math and science courses later on in their education.

Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña
Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña

“Ensuring that every student has an equitable and excellent education is at the very core of my vision of public education,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Today, the Mayor laid out a bold plan to ensure our elementary, middle and high schoolers across every neighborhood have the critical support to achieve in rigorous academic courses – and we’ll ensure our educators have the proper training and resources to support our students. I’ve seen our schools evolve over the last 50 years, and I know these are the right ingredients for transformative change.”

Mayor de Blasio will implement new district-charter school learning partnerships. Annually, $5 million will fund up to 50 partnerships between district and charter schools. Based on the DOE’s Learning Partners Programs, the two will be provided resources to learn from each other, especially concerning math and English language instruction.

The City is launching a new $15 million program called “Single Shepherd” to aid two historically low-performing districts, District 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in Brooklyn. District 23 serves the neighborhoods of Ocean Hill, Brownsville, and parts of East New York. The 16,000 students- 11,300 students in District 7 and 4,800 students in District 23-will be paired up with a counselor who will guide them through the process of graduation and college enrollment.

StudentsFirstNY , a  grassroots education advocacy organization, says the Mayor’s announcement is a good start but not enough. “Mayor de Blasio is beginning to realize what parents and children in struggling schools have long known: New York City schools are in crisis. Too many children are trapped in failing schools and too few students are being prepared for college and career. The mayor’s new plans are a start, but there are glaring omissions: he needs to pay more than lip service to teacher quality and the expansion of school choice. Until there’s a great teacher in every classroom and quality school options for every child, parents won’t be satisfied,” said StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis.