De Blasio, Carranza Talk Money & Parental Empowerment In Bed-Stuy

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza held a parental empowerment town hall in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Photo by Sonia Colon.

When it comes to the inequities damaging Brooklyn public schools it’s all about the money.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

That was the overpowering message that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Richard Carranza gave parents during their parental empowerment town hall meeting this week at Boys and Girls High School, 1700 Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

De Blasio said the meeting was called because while the chancellor and him are trying to get it right every single day, they needed to hear from parents what is working and what is not working

“We are not interested in just parent engagement. Parent engagement is a very low bar,” said Carranza. “What we are committed to is empowerment.”

But while conversation was supposed to center around parental empowerment it often morphed into one about inequities. Often times the mayor and chancellor invited up members of DOE leadership to answer more specific questions on infrastructure, class size, after school programs, infrastructure and the possibility of hiring more teachers.

A panaroma photo of those in attendance at the town hall. Photo by Sonia Colon.

Nearly each time deBlasio countered by saying that all these problems could be alleviated if more money were put towards Education.

“Moving a lot of resources is not going to happen in one year or two years, it’s a constant thing. We talk about the parent funding, this is a big piece of the equation too. The fact that we were, I think, just a few years away from being able to get every school to the same basic level is profoundly important,” said de Blasio. “We make the change by sending the resources that we do have, more and more to schools that were not best met.”

“And things like the plans we just agreed with the teachers, which says that we can get high quality teachers in subject areas that we couldn’t get them to some immediate schools, particularly true in the Bronx but also true in neighborhoods here in Brooklyn as well. That’s a big breakthrough that’s going to allow us to get a different kind of quality, which is to bring in more and stronger teachers that the schools can offer. All of this is working towards equity.” he added.

According to the 2018-2019 highlights of the preliminary budget section of the Report of the Finance Division on the Fiscal 2019 Preliminary Budget and the Fiscal 2018 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report for the Department of Education, “The Executive Budget proposes an increase of $247.6 million in School Aid for New York City, or 2.44 percent, when compared to last year, for a total $10.5 billion in Fiscal 2019.”

The proposed budget increase changes spending formulas for special education, charter school tuition, foundation aid and charter school facilities. Additionally it allocates money towards new needs in the DOE system such as, School Climate (anti-bullying), Gay-Straight Alliance Expansion, LGBT Community Liaison Office, Extended Use Fee Waivers, New 3-K for All Districts (adding four new districts), NYC School Support Services (SSS), and Rat Reduction and Mitigation. So if more money comes into the DOE budget, it will be more spread out than before.

De Blasio has never shied away from pouring money into education reforms. According to a Chalkbeat article, de Blasio’s Renewal School Program (RSP) invested nearly $750 million into failing New York City schools in 2014 to a mixed reaction.