Mayor de Blasio Details Tech Investments in City Schools To Close Achievement Gap and Better Prepare all Students for The Workforce

May 21, 2014

Executive budget makes $20 million investment in new devices and software, additional $650 million investment in 5-year plan for new hardware and tech infrastructure, $20 million for CUNY STEM programs
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More digital schools that support teachers and give students skills for studies and careers in the ‘tech ecosystem’

NEW YORK—As Internet Week continues, Mayor Bill de Blasio detailed key investments in this year’s budget that will support technology in city schools, helping close the achievement gap and lift up students in every neighborhood.

Joined by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and venture capitalist Fred Wilson at the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering (BASE), the Mayor will announce a $20-million investment in new devices and software to increase classroom connectivity, and a $650 million capital investment in wiring City schools and securing new hardware that keeps pace with the emerging ‘tech ecosystem.’

“The technology in our classrooms has to keep pace with the real world. The ability of our kids to succeed and compete depends on it. That’s why our budget makes strategic investments to link our schools to the innovators that drive our tech ecosystem, creates career pipelines from our high schools to top-tier firms, and exposes kids to the latest technology from the time they start pre-K to the day they graduate college,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Having technology in our classrooms brings excitement to learning, and helps our students prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Integrating hands-on and project-based learning into every day learning adds tremendous value to a child’s academic growth, and cultivates critical thinking skills that are crucial for success.”

The biggest growth sector in the coming years in New York City and around the world is technology and we must make certain our children are educated properly so they can work in high quality well-paying tech sector jobs. I am pleased that New York City and its public school system are making strides to provide this kind of education to our children,” said venture capitalist and BASE co-founder Fred Wilson.

“New York City’s tech sector has expanded dramatically in recent years, and it is a vital part of our future. In order to ensure that we remain on the cutting edge of technological innovation, we must invest in programs which will prepare students for careers in the industry. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for allocating this funding for STEM programs in high schools and CUNY community colleges,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Committee on Technology.

BASE is one of two new unscreened high schools that offer computer science to all students as part of standard Regents-prep high school experience. BASE has connections to major tech firms and groups like Google, New York Tech Meetup, General Assembly, Girls Who Code and StartUp Box: South Bronx. In addition, the school’s partnerships with the Museum of the Moving Image and NPower, facilitated by the Digital Ready program funded by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, build teacher capacity to use technology in the classroom.

These are precisely the kind of partnerships the City is seeking to expand. As part of this year’s executive budget, the City is making significant new investments to increase the availability of technology in the classroom, and boost programs that allow students to pursue computer science-related academic tracks. Those initiatives include:

Increasing Enrollment in Comprehensive Computer Science Education: In the coming school year, the City will double the number of students participating in the Software Engineering Pilot to 2,800. The program entails a multi-year sequential curriculum spanning grades 6-12 that provides students with deep experiences in computer programming, web development, and physical computing. The partnership with CSNYC will put students on course to take the AP Computer Science exam and move into the tech workforce.

Increasing Teachers’ Technology Expertise: The DOE’s Division of Teaching and Learning, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is working to ensure that teachers and school leaders can discover high quality resources and engage in online and blended courses to support their students in the classroom and their own professional growth.  Through a further partnership with Code.org and CSNYC, the iZone’s Blended Learning Institute will prepare and support 120 teachers by 2015 with implementing a nationally recognized introductory Computer Science curriculum.

Increasing Use of Technology in the Classroom: A $20 million investment in the coming year will help schools secure more up-to-date devices like tablets, laptops, scanners, printers and smartboards, as well as network devices like routers and hubs. Schools can also utilize the funds to purchase new software.

Increasing School Connectivity: A five-year capital commitment of $650 million, including $150 million in the coming year alone, will help schools upgrade their broadband internet access and purchase new hardware. As of this school year, 99% of our schools have a high-bandwidth fiber optic connection to the internet and are continually upgrading their capabilities.

Increasing Higher Education STEM Programs: The City will invest an additional $20 million in the coming fiscal year to expand STEM programs at CUNY community colleges, reaching 5,000 students in the first year.

“Too many young people have better technology on the streets than in their classrooms. Too often they arrive on their first job unprepared. What Mayor de Blasio is doing today is essential if our students are going to be ready to land a good job in New York City,” said Jerry MacArthur Hultin, President Emeritus of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and former Under Secretary of the Navy.

“New York’s technology ecosystem is growing rapidly, creating a substantial positive impact on the city’s economy. In order to continue that growth, it is essential that the city have a diverse workforce armed with the technical skills necessary for 21st century jobs. Increasing the accessibility of technology for students and more fully integrating technology education into our schools will go a long way towards ensuring that we will have the talent we need to fill the growing number of technology jobs and that New York City remains at the forefront of innovation,” said Jessica Lawrence, Executive Director of NY Tech Meetup.

“Developing a 21st century workforce is a priority for not only New York City’s tech community but the city's tech ecosystem,” said Andrew Rasiej, Chairman of NY Tech Meetup, “It is now quite clear that Mayor de Blasio not only agrees with this goal but is aligning his administration's resources to make it happen.”

“Developing technical talent in New York City is one of the most fundamental investments we can make in our city’s future. It will help thousands of people get high paying jobs and create new companies over time,” said Kevin Ryan, Chairman and Founder of Gilt, MongoDB, Business Insider and Zola.

“Mayor de Blasio’s investment in technology will come back to us hundreds of times over in new jobs, new companies and new inventions we can’t even imagine for years to come. Computer science education is the key to staying competitive in today’s and tomorrow’s job markets,” said Darrell Silver, CEO of Thinkful.

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