Mayoral Forum Discusses Public Education in New York City

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Photo Credit: Alfredo Jeff

The Campaign for Children held a mayoral forum to discuss the New York City Public School system and the future of after school programs.

The event was moderated by Lisa Belkin, a columnist from The Huffington Post. The mayoral candidates in attendance were Christine Quinn, John Liu, Adolfo Carrion Jr., Bill De Blasio, Sal Albanese and Bill Thompson.  The event was held at The New York Law School on Tuesday May 21st.

The candidates were called in one by one and asked to answer four questions. These questions came from various sources such as, the campaign for children, from reporters and readers of The Huffington Post, from twitter, and from the audience.

The focus of the event was the youth of the city. All of the mayoral candidates agreed that the budget cuts to public education need to end. Many wanted to invest more money into the budget for education in order to improve the city’s public schools.

“I want to extend the school day, currently there is a pilot where they have expanded the school day in 20 middle schools in New York City where ¾ of the students are reading below grade level, said Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council and Mayoral candidate. “We need to have the schools be the heart and core of the community,” Quinn continued.

Along with extending the hours in which they are in school some candidates wanted to bring the children in school earlier.

“We need to have a universal Pre-Kindergarten,” said John Liu, New York City Comptroller. We need to have a full day Pre-K, we need to go further than just four year olds, we need to start with the 3 year old as well. The way we can pay for this is to stop corporate tax- loopholes and put that money where it counts,” said Liu.

The idea of starting school earlier for children was a topic that many of the candidates proposed. Other candidates emphasized the importance of education.

“We need to educate and prepare children to become good citizens and to be able to compete in the global economy. Every dollar we put into education we get eight dollars back,” said Adolfo Carrion, Bronx Borough President. “We need to baseline the funding and stop the cynical and insidious approach to politics. That’s why I became an independent,” said Carrion.

Along with understanding the value of education the mayoral candidates explain what they feel an education should do.

“I want to get away from test prepping, it is undermining the quality of education,” said Bill De Blasio, New York City Public Advocate.

The focus on standardized testing was a reoccurring topic for the candidates.

“It’s become about momorization noy comprehension, we need smaller classes in the earlier grades,” said Bill Thompson a mayoral candidate.

Some candidates believed the teachers were being shorted as much as the students.

“Being a teacher is a great profession, we need to stop demonizing teachers. We need to give them decent healthcare and pay them adequately; we need fair wages for our teachers,” said Sal Albanese, former city council member.

The discussion of the Public School system brought up many other topics, most surrounding the budget. The campaign for children is advocating for better conditions for children despite the budget cuts toward education in New York City.

 As Christine Quinn said, “Nothing is impossible.” 

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