District 41 City Council Candidate Henry Butler today put out a multi-pronged plan to improve public schools in Brownsville and parts of East Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights include lowering the size of our classrooms, bringing an end to excessive suspensions and policing, introducing more extracurricular, afterschool and vocational programs and hiring more nurses and social workers in our schools.
“It goes without saying that the future of our district lies within our children. According to the U.S. Census, over 40,000 residents of District 41 are school children, ages five to nineteen, and right now, their daily experiences are shaping them into the adults that will eventually lead our community.” said Butler in the report.
Butler noted that according to the NYC Department of Education, the average size for K-8 classrooms in City Council District 41 is 23.6, and 20.9 students per 9th grade to 12th grade classrooms, both of which are much higher than the citywide average of 14.5.
“While the numbers may not sound so staggering, according to the Center for Public Education, smaller classes in the early grades (K-3) can boost student academic achievement and a class size of no more than 18 students per teacher is required to produce the greatest benefits. Also, the minority enrollment of our district is 94%, and minority and low-income students show even greater gains when placed in small classes in the primary grades,” he said.
Butler also proposes adding additional city-run Beacon centers to the district, which currently has just one. Beacon programs are school-based community centers serving children age six and older, and adults. There are currently 80 Beacons citywide operating in the afternoons and evenings, on weekends, and during school holidays and vacation periods, including the summer.
“Each Beacon receives a base grant of $400,000 annually, as well as an allotment of $50,000 for space and cleaning costs, however, I would use my influence as a City Councilmember to secure additional funding from local and national foundations,” said Butler.
Butler also noted that the district has the 2nd highest percentage of homeless students in all of Brooklyn and many are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“We should be nurturing our students’ minds and bodies, working to lower dropout rates by making sure no student is struggling during the day and has access to nurses and social workers. It is clear that children with unmet health needs are far less likely to have academic success and I will call on the city to expand access to health education and healthcare services in schools,” he said.
Butler’s report did not include any views on the issue of parental choices of where to send their kids to school including lifting the cap on charter schools or possibly offering tax breaks for parents that pay tuition to send their children to private and parochial schools.
The district already has a number of successful charter schools, but also has a growing waiting list of parents in the district that want to put their children in charter schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio, with the strong backing from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) union, are against lifting the cap, currently at 23.
“Henry supports parents choice [to be able to send their kids to charter schools], but believes that before we consider raising the charter cap, our public schools must get the billions in funding owed to them as part of the CFE (Campaign for Fiscal Equity) lawsuit. Those billions of dollars owed should get put towards helping underperforming schools succeed along with capital improvements for schools to upgrade to the latest in teaching technologies,” said Butler campaign spokesperson Jonathan Yedin.
The UFT has already endorsed one of Butler’s opponents, Alicka Ampry-Samuel.
To view Butler’s entire report click Education HButlerPlan2.