Welcome Back to School

Welcome Back to School

It’s a big day for NYC families as 1 million kids head back to school – including mine, who are starting 7th and 11th grade today (incredible how fast the years go, since it was just yesterday they were starting pre-K).

We’re starting off the school year with a lot of good things going on in our schools:

  • While it’s almost taken-for-granted already, the expansion of full-day Pre-K for every 4-year-old in New York City is truly incredible. We’ve seen tremendous expansion in our community this year, and a few seats still remain. Just this summer, research from Tulsa shows Pre-K makes a difference for kids 10 years later. Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Buery, Chancellor Farina, Deputy Chancellor Wallack and their team on this incredible achievement.
  • We’re continuing our efforts to push for more diverse NYC public schools, in the face of stark and stubborn segregation. In August (after two powerful episodes of This American Life on the topic), I wrote an Op Ed on this work with Council Member Ritchie Torres about the School Diversity Accountability Act that we passed in the spring, and our next steps toward more diverse schools. Mayor de Blasio spoke with passion when he signed the act into law - but the real test will come this December when the first mandated report on diversity is due.
  • I’m excited about DOE’s new “Framework for Great Schools,” the data-driven framework for accountability for NYC schools which goes beyond test scores to focus on elements of student support that make for truly great schools: instructional guidance, teacher empowerment, student-centered learning, effective school leadership, strong parent-community collaboration, and the trust that underlies them all.
  • As always, parent involvement is key. I’m pleased to see the strong commitment (and new leadership) that Chancellor Farina has provided to DOE’s Division of Family & Community Engagement. And I especially encourage parent leaders to check out PTALink.org, a fantastic resource to support schools (that my office was proud to help get off the ground).

Closer to home I wanted to give an especially warm greeting to the newest members of our District 15 community: A beautiful new building at 713 Caton Avenue & E. 8th Street in Kensington (thanks to the NYC School Construction Authority) that houses the PS 130 Upper School, the brand new Middle School 839, and a District 75 program:

  • Thanks to the advocacy of the PS 130 community to maintain their diverse school community (with a special shout-out to Principal Maria Nunziata and the PS 130 PTA, who I was honored to partner with in this effort), the DOE agreed to an innovative “split-siting” approach (students attend Pre-K to 2nd grade in the old PS 130 building, and 3rd to 5th grade in the new building) that preserves the diversity of this great school.
  • The brand-new Middle School 839, led by principal Michael Perlberg, is already getting attention as a great option for District 15 – with this strong write-up at DNAInfo. I urge families of 5th graders to take a good look at the school as they start to consider middle school applications. And to the many students starting their first weeks in the new building, I look forward to attending your performances, seeing your work, and getting to know you over the school year. 

As the new school opens, nearby Windsor Terrace and Kensington residents have another major change to look forward to this fall – significant pedestrian safety improvements throughout the entire areaThese new improvements are all part of a NYC DOT plan created in response to widespread concerns about traffic safety in the area, made all the more urgent after Naiem Uddin was tragically hit and killed by a car last fall right at the intersection where kids are entering the new building today. While his family and community are still grieving for Naiem, we are honoring his memory by moving forward with substantive changes to improve pedestrian safety for all students in the area. 

You can read a summary of those changes here, and get an update on every one at the K/WT Street Safety Tracker on my website.

Finally, if you live, work, or go to school in Windsor Terrace, and you support safer streets, please sign this petition to support the installation of 15 new speed humps in Windsor Terrace. They didn’t receive the warmest reception earlier this month when they were first presented, and they’ll need more community support to move forward.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer, and for the many students, parents, and educators heading back to school across the district and the city, best wishes for a fantastic school year!

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