Reactions: Education Leaders, Innovators, Elected Officials and Parents Support Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Equity and Excellence" Vision for NYC Public Schools

September 16, 2015

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "The Mayor has put forward a bold vision for New York City's schools that will allow all our children to succeed in a 21st century economy. I am encouraged by his plans to work collaboratively and develop innovative educational methods to provide opportunities for all students. This is a forward thinking plan that will give kids access to critical learning and comprehensive services so they can be successful and realize their dreams. We look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio to help make this plan a reality for our school children."

"This comprehensive plan for our public schools addresses the needs of all of our students from pre-k through college. The emphasis on literacy in the early grades, and the commitment to provide every elementary school with a certified reading specialist, will help ensure that all students are reading at or above grade level by the time they reach third grade," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

"AP courses give students the opportunity to pursue college-level course work in high school and the confidence to succeed in college and beyond. Research shows that students who succeed in AP are more likely to earn higher GPAs in college and graduate on time in four years. We thank the Mayor and Chancellor for their commitment to expanding access to AP, and to providing universal access to the PSAT/NSMQT, which helps identify students who are likely to succeed in AP. AP for All will improve access to college-level courses and exams for students across every neighborhood, making a real difference for the future of the City," said College Board President David Coleman.

"I applaud Mayor de Blasio's bold and ambitious effort to reimagine what education can do in the digital era. It is critical that every student in NYC gets exposure to the concepts and fundamentals of computer science – the defining skill of the 21st century – in elementary, middle, and high school. And that's what Computer Science For All is all about. Our nonprofit CSNYC will work actively to build out the private part of this historic public-private partnership, and my wife Joanne and I are thrilled to be founding supporters of this initiative," said Fred Wilson, Chairman of the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education.

"All of us at Robin Hood, New York City's largest poverty fighting organization, are thrilled to partner with the Mayor, the Chancellor, Fred Wilson and others to make sure that every single public school student has access to a teacher trained in computer science. If computer science isn't as essential as reading, writing and arithmetic, it's real close. Robin Hood's partnership with the City and brilliant leaders of the tech world will ensure that New York City's public school students will succeed in the jobs of the future," said David Saltzman, Executive Director of the Robin Hood Foundation.

"Historically, New York City and the rest of the United States have seen the cultural, economic and social benefits from investing in next-generation technologies and education. The contributions AOL Charitable Foundation and other partners have made alongside the Mayor's office will allow children of all backgrounds to share equally in the future of a software-driven economy and continue to bolster New York's position as one of the leading technology cities in the world," said Tim Armstrong, CEO and Chairman of AOL.

"We are thrilled to partner with CSNYC, Robin Hood Foundation, and the Fund for Public Schools on this groundbreaking initiative to bring computer science education to every New York City public school student," said Sara Link, President of AOL Charitable Foundation. "It is our aim, along with these partners, to prepare our future leaders with the skills they need to address 21st century challenges."

"For companies like AT&T, the skills gap is real and likely to grow as our core technologies become more sophisticated," said Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T's New York State President. "Early on, we recognized that finding the talent we need requires building a pipeline that delivers foundational computer science skills at an early age. We see this as a smart investment in our company's future, which is why we've partnered with the Department of Education to build and test solutions that will inform the CS for All effort. Today's announcement is a great example of how the private and public sectors can work together on solutions that will positively impact the city's economy for years to come."

"This is a huge step forward for New York. As a Brooklyn-born company, we understand how important it is to educate and inspire the next generation of technologists, and to cultivate a workforce that will build New York's tech community for decades to come," said Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy.

"Today's announcement goes a long way to supporting companies that are committed to growing in NYC," said Dennis Crowley, co-Founder and CEO of Foursquare. "At Foursquare, our success depends on a community that embraces technology as a tool for improving their everyday lives and an engineering team that is equipped to serve them. Through Computer Science for All, the City of New York has taken a step to expand both sides of this equation. We are thrilled to support these efforts."


"This is an unprecedented partnership between the public and private sectors to take an active role in closely aligning the needs of companies with the training students receive. This administration has taken the rare step of partnering closely with the private sector to closely tie skill training with actual demand. We were inspired to build Hopscotch because of the lack of CS education options that could appeal to a diverse audience. A true grasp of computer programming means more than just access to job skills: it fundamentally affects the way kids understand how the world works," said Jocelyn Leavitt, co-Founder and CEO of Hopscotch.

"In the 21st century there is no greater investment that society can make in itself than computer science education," said Andrew Rasiej, Chairman of NY Tech Meetup. "The commitment Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC is making to computer science education will not only help NYC students but will by example help catalyze similar investment throughout the country."

"As the CEO of a New York-based software company, I have a selfish interest in seeing more local students develop fluency in computer science. But this isn't just a workforce development issue. Computer science teaches a way of approaching problems and thinking about the world. It's just as foundational to a liberal education as English, art and music. That's why this initiative is so exciting. It prepares local students to achieve great things in and outside of the computer science field," said Brian O'Kelley, Founder and CEO of AppNexus.

"This initiative will help prepare students of all backgrounds for the next generation of good jobs," said Julie Samuels, Executive Director of national startup advocacy organization Engine. "It will also help address one of the biggest challenges we hear from the startups we work with: the ability to access top talent when growing a successful company. We're glad to see Mayor de Blasio's committed to making New York City a national leader in computer science education. And thanks to the Wilson Family, AOL and Robin Hood for helping make these classes a reality for the next generation of innovators."

"Goldman Sachs has been headquartered in Lower Manhattan for more than 145 years and nearly a third of the firm's staff are engineers, so we understand the importance of cultivating the local STEM talent pipeline. We are pleased to partner with the Mayor's office on Computer Science for All and the Tech Talent Pipeline in support of the local tech community," said Don Duet, co-Head of Technology at Goldman Sachs.

"The Computer Science for All initiative is going to fundamentally change the future of NYC by equipping every single student that grows up in this city with the skills to thrive in the modernized economy. This initiative is incredibly long term beneficial to the city and will have an immediate impact by exposing a massive student body to computer science at a young age the day it starts. Computer science will give students the tools to create the future of NYC and beyond," said David Tisch, co-Founder of Techstars and Head of the Startup Studio at Cornell Tech.

"Knowledge of Computer Science is core to thriving in the 21st century, yet CS is missing from the curricula in most primary and secondary schools in the country. This bold initiative by the City of New York holds the promise of providing powerful opportunities for millions of New Yorkers, and of serving as a model for school districts large and small," said Dan Huttenlocher, Founding Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech.

"Bringing computer science to every public school is a huge leap toward leveling the playing field for all students in the digital economy of NYC. We admire the Mayor's bold commitment to creating opportunities for all students and look forward to working alongside the DOE to support this effort," said Diane Leavitt, k-12 coordinator at Cornell Tech.

"Mayor de Blasio's Computer Science for All announcement is historic in its reach, impact and significance – providing new opportunities for our children and preparing them for a successful future by teaching them necessary skills to thrive in today's economy," said William C. Rudin, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York. "ABNY's New York City Tech Ecosystem report found that the tech industry generates more than half a million jobs, $50 billion in annual compensation, nearly $125 billion in annual output, and $ 5.6 billion in tax revenues. Computer Science for All will provide a direct pipeline of talent from our schools to the workplace. We applaud the Mayor, the Chancellor and all partners for putting together this unprecedented initiative."

"Mayor de Blasio's Computer Science For All initiative promises to literally change the face of the innovation economy by bringing gender and racial diversity to all skill levels within the high tech workforce and ensuring that employers can find the skilled workers that they need right here in our own communities," said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

"Education is a journey, and we can no longer accept losing our students along the path because they have been ill-prepared for college or career opportunities. We must raise standards across the board in our City's public schools, setting new goals for reading and math excellence that are driven by high-quality educators. We must unleash the creators of tomorrow in the classrooms of today with computer science curriculum that stokes creativity in emerging areas like coding and 3D printing. We must inspire every child, regardless of where they begin, to aspire toward higher education, providing them support along their way. I look forward to working closely with Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña, along with our teachers, school administrators, and parents, in advancing college readiness throughout Brooklyn and spurring innovation in our public schools that jumpstarts academic success," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

"Tech is creating a whole new world, and our city is one of its capitals – and it's about time we ensured that kids in every New York City school have access to computer science," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The reforms and investments the Mayor announced today are exciting, and another milestone in the road to building a school system that gives all our kids the resources and opportunities they need to be successful."

"Expanding programs for reading, computer science, and Advanced Placement will equip students with the necessary tools to excel in the 21st century. Providing students with dedicated college career counselors will also help them realize their opportunities, plot their paths, and achieve their goals. I thank Mayor de Blasio for working towards assuring equity and excellence in education, and for the teachers and support staff throughout New York City who have dedicated their lives to nurturing and teaching children every day," said Congressman Gregory Meeks.

"Mayor De Blasio's reform proposal focuses on key areas of our education system that need improvement. By strengthening our schools' curriculum, standards, and college guidance services, these reforms will help ensure every single kid in NYC has the skills and tools they need to reach their academic and professional goals in order to succeed in life," said Congressman José E. Serrano.

"I commend the Mayor's vision designed to improve the future of education for New York City's school children from elementary school through college," said State Senator Martin Golden. "Mayor Bill de Blasio today has outlined his commitment to guaranteeing that our schools dedicate resources to reading and math programs, as well as Advanced Placement opportunities for our students. The Mayor's plan incorporates public school cooperation with charter schools, colleges and universities so to increase student achievement. Further, I applaud the emphasis being placed on computer science learning, so our students will be able to better compete for the jobs in the modern workplace."

"I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for their plans to give every public school student in New York City the tools and resources they need to be successful," said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly's Education Committee. "I look forward to students in my district and beyond having access to the reading, math, computer, and Advanced Placement courses they deserve."

"I commend Mayor de Blasio's increased investment in our public schools. This $15 million investment will provide dedicated counselors to thousands of students, including 15 schools within the 79th Assembly district. These counselors will help our children fulfill their potential and stay on track to graduate. As a child who went to a Bronx public school included in Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools, I am grateful that this announcement happened in our district, which is owed the most funding for Campaign for Fiscal Equity, as it shows a renewed commitment to our young Bronx scholars. A brighter tomorrow starts with the child of today and when we provide our students with necessary resources, we ensure that we move towards a Bronx and world of improved economic development, education, and equality for all," said Assembly Member Michael Blake.

"Tech jobs are the jobs of the future," said Assembly Member Francisco Moya, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Science and Technology. "But too many students are entering the workforce without the skills they need to participate in the tech revolution. By offering computer science classes to all New York City students, we will put our city on the cutting edge of innovation and education. As Chair of the Legislative Commission on Science and Technology, I have worked to incorporate more technology into our schools because I, like Mayor de Blasio, believe that exposure to tech will help close the achievement gap. I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for taking such a bold and forward-thinking approach to education."

"The Mayor and Chancellor are correct to address the issue of college preparedness by supporting more rigorous standards with an emphasis on reading and algebra," said City Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education. "I am pleased to see the administration is committing additional resources to our middle school and high school students which in turn will help them navigate the college application process and help them be better prepared for 21st century jobs."

"Ensuring that every child in New York City is provided the skills and tools to enter and succeed in college is more than just a goal – it's a moral obligation," said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. "I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his laser-like focus on equality through educational empowerment for all."

"Many would agree that the Mayor inherited an education system that has failed New York City's public school children. As the Chair of the Committee on Higher Education, I am pleased to know that a part of the Mayor's initiative introduces a focused plan for high school students to expand their opportunities to gain access to college," said City Council Member Inez Barron, Chair of the Committee on Higher Education. "During my 36 year tenure with the New York City Department of Education, I found that student success is influenced by a culturally rich curriculum; offerings in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS and Math); effective school leadership; competently- trained, sensitive teachers; and classrooms that fully engage all students and support systems beyond the classrooms. Additionally, to increase student success, we must reduce the emphasis on time-consuming high-stakes testing; eliminate the chaos and loss of instruction space caused by co-locations and re-evaluate the efficacy of the common core curriculum. We must produce students who can make meaningful contributions to their community and the world based on their unique talents. I hope that the Mayor's plans for the future will incorporate these provisions and other thoughtful and creative measures that will drastically improve our education system. I am happy to be a collaborative partner in this work."

City Council Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said, "The Mayor's college readiness plan is a powerful track towards ensuring our children are successful. Every family should plan for their children to attend college and, as a City, we are dedicated to giving students the tools they need to enroll and graduate."

"Making sure all our children have equal access to quality education is the only way we can ensure that they have equal opportunities later in life. Every child deserves to have the chance to succeed," said City Council Member Mathieu Eugene. "I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for making education a priority in our city."

"The Mayor's college readiness plan is a powerful track towards ensuring our children are successful. Every family should plan for their children to attend college and, as a city, we are dedicated to giving students the tools they need to enroll and graduate," said Council Member Julissa Ferreras.

"I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for their visionary blueprint for educating our children for the 21st Century. From basic literacy support for all our 2nd graders to expanded AP classes and universal computer science, this is a bold plan that will help to ensure the future of New York City is strong," said City Council Member Stephen Levin.

"I am excited about the Mayor's new Single Shepherd initiative which will be implemented in District 23, one of the several School Districts under my jurisdiction. This appears to be an excellent, all-encompassing approach to helping our students on the road to success. Working together with the District 23 leadership, this program will definitely catapult our students towards not only achieving their high school diplomas but give them the tools they need to compete in prestigious colleges, and set them up for successful, meaningful and sustainable career paths," said Council Member Darlene Mealy.

"More than ever the Administration of our city is dedicated to combatting inequality by equalizing our schools. Whether it's pre-K or universal computer science, our children are rapidly gaining tool after tool to improve their trajectory into the future. As a former teacher, I am especially proud to stand with Mayor who is so dedicated to empowering our children," said City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

"The Mayor's plan, by taking on the school-to-prison pipeline through intensive counseling and college readiness, is putting forward a roadmap that has the potential to redirect the lives of our city's most vulnerable students. The Mayor is doing something that advocates for restorative justice have long been seeking: he is empowering high schools to live up to their purpose as pipelines into college," said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

"Improving our public school system will make a life changing impact on countless youth in this city, especially for those who can't afford a higher education. These students shouldn't be held back because of structural deficits or economic hardships, and deserve to reach their full potential no matter what. I applaud the Administration for recognizing this by announcing this progressive initiative, which will make our city one step closer to breaking down barriers to our youth's success," said City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams.

"Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña made an incredible investment in the future of New York City, one that will pay tremendous dividends for our public school students. By focusing on improving the reading skills of 2nd graders, requiring computer science to be taught in every school, and ensuring that all high schools offer Advanced Placement classes, the Mayor is drastically improving the lives of countless young New Yorkers. These initiatives are not only beneficial to our education system, but to our business community as well, as they will help to better educate the business leaders and innovators of tomorrow," said Carlo Scissura, President and CEO of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

"The Mayor has set New York City on an ambitious path to excellence for all our students," said Reverend Michael Walrond, Senior Pastor at First Corinthian Baptist Church and Chair of the Mayor's Clergy Advisory Council. "From literacy and algebra, to Computer Science and college counseling, the initiatives announced today will help our children attain the education they need to go to college and succeed."

"The Children's Defense Fund-New York applauds Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and investment in tackling the college and career readiness gap that results in far too many Black and Latino students leaving high school unprepared for college," said Melanie Hartzog, Executive Director of the Children's Defense Fund-New York. "By expanding early literacy, math, computer science, and counseling, the Mayor is creating opportunity so that children, beginning in elementary school through high school, will be ready to succeed in college and beyond."

"On behalf of the many students and families CHCF works with across the city, we commend Mayor de Blasio for forging ahead and ensuring that our schools are a true resource for the children that enter and the families that entrust all of us with their success. The community school model built on the strengths of communities and makes us all investors in the future of our next generation," said Grace Bonilla, President and CEO of The Committee for Hispanic Children & Families, Inc.

"The Mayor and Chancellor have outlined an ambitious and ground breaking strategy to improve educational opportunities for all of New York's children. As advocates for early learning, we applaud the Mayor for the precedent setting and effective expansion of Pre-K and now those gains will be supported for children as they enter kindergarten and beyond. This means that every child can have the opportunity to succeed," said Nancy Kolben, Executive Director of the Center for Children's Initiatives.

"We applaud the Mayor and his bold leadership in improving education access for all children. From the universal second grade literacy program that will provide more support for English language learners, to providing all high school students with access to college readiness preparation, the Mayor's initiatives will lay the groundwork to improve education for the next generation. We thank the Mayor for his vision to build a more secure future for our children," said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation.

"As a result of the Mayor's leadership, all Pre-K students are able to go to school, where they are able to be better helped by teachers and our government. It is also a precious chance for them to build the foundation for their future studies. Today's announcements will support students for the rest of their years in school. Connecting high school students who are struggling with guidance, advice on financial aid, and the ability to visit colleges will offer students more opportunities that will be important to their future development," said Luming Li, President of the Asian-American Coalition for Education.

"Since 1994, AAFSC has provided educational support services to Arab and South-Asian immigrant youth across the city. For over 20 years, we have seen how many of these low-income communities have been largely overlooked and subjected to burdensome cultural and linguistic obstacles. Therefore, we greatly applaud Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña's commitment to equity, as embodied by their pledge of making academic achievement and college access a reality for all students. We are particularly excited about the focus on immigrant access and English language learners, as we believe that all students deserve the opportunity to flourish, regardless of their socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds," said Lena Alhusseini, Executive Director of the Arab-American Family Support Center.

"Given the state of public education in NYC in the last 12 years, I am proud of educational initiatives that Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña are introducing to create educational equity for all children to raise our students' graduation rates. I am most proud of the Single Shepard initiative that will insure every middle-schooler in District 7 and 23 don't fall through the cracks, but have a fighting chance to compete with their counterparts across the city to graduate on time with merit through the one-on-one counselor support," said Debbie Almontaser, NYC Educator.

"Mayor de Blasio is right, for decades our schools have been plagued by inequity and nothing was done. Finally, we have a Mayor who is taking on educational inequity and offering solutions. Reading specialists and Advanced Placement courses are pieces in the puzzle for what our students need and have been required to do without for far too long. Combine these with pre-K and community schools, and we can finally see a working vision for school reform taking shape under Mayor de Blasio's leadership. Today's speech contains critical improvements for our schools, but there remains more work to do," said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director Alliance for Quality Education.

"The Coalition for Educational Justice is proud to have a Mayor who is committed to equity for NYC students that have been denied access to a top quality education in the past. Parents have fought for years for a rigorous, 21st century curriculum, college access and sufficient supports for students, and are pleased to see those initiatives prioritized in the most under-resourced schools and districts. We support this administration's long-term vision, and look forward to learning about the intermediate steps that will allow schools to begin benefitting from this vision immediately," said Natasha Capers, NYC Coalition for Educational Justice.

"We know that when children have access to high-quality early childhood education and after-school programs, they're more likely to graduate high school and be prepared for college and career. The Mayor's significant investments in these proven programs will undoubtedly put more of our city's students on this path to success, and we look forward to helping him achieve this ambitious and important goal," said the Campaign for Children.

"Today the myth that ‘equity is the enemy of excellence' is forever debunked. Mayor de Blasio's plan is ambitious, visionary and most practical," said Luis Garden Acosta, Founder and President of El Puente. "In a city too often segregated by class, color and community, a plan that promotes equity by guaranteeing for all our young people not only pre-K but, also, after-school, algebra, computer science, advanced placement college courses and, indeed, college itself is a bold declaration that we can both imagine and make happen. It is the birthright of all young people to succeed for themselves, their neighborhoods and our entire city."

"The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families supports this comprehensive education reform approach that will help all APA students excel in New York City throughout middle and high school. Currently, 1 out of 5 APA youth do not finish high school on time or at all. Many come from low-income/immigrant households, and need more support navigating the education system and the pathway to college and career readiness. We are even more excited in a new approach to fund college campus tours so that working families can also be fully involved in the college application process. We believe that when we invest in our students at an early age to meet and exceed academic goals, we are establishing the next generation with tools to help them to be productive civic-minded citizens for the 21st century," said Sheelah A. Feinberg, Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.

"We applaud the Mayor and the Chancellor for their commitment to supporting our youngest learners reach reading proficiency by their appropriate grade level," said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "With nearly half of all public school students speaking a language other than English at home, 2nd and 3rd graders, who are often dual language learners, will greatly benefit by the additional resources to support their learning. These multi-lingual learners need robust services and parents that are meaningfully engaged to achieve their full potential. We applaud the Department of Education for making strides towards designating a language access coordinator that would allow better support and monitoring of schools on translation and interpretation and ensuring that all parents get quality language services."

"Every year, we receive call after call from families of children who are struggling in school because they lack the most basic literacy skills. We see this problem across the educational spectrum – from fourth graders being held over, to fifteen-year-olds who are stuck in eighth grade, to high school students who can't pass the Regents exams. Kids who can't read become frustrated in school and often start getting in trouble or stop attending. Many NYC schools don't have the expertise or the resources to help students who need significant support in learning to read. We are encouraged to see the administration focusing on this essential aspect of education and making this long-overdue investment in literacy instruction," said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children.

"In 2026, when Mayor de Blasio's first class of pre-K students graduate from high school, we will look back on this day and the Mayor's promise that 80 percent would graduate on-time and two-thirds would graduate college and career ready. This bold plan to ensure equity and excellence for New York City's public school students by providing children with early pre-K, adding reading specialists to ensure literacy by 3rd grade, adding supports so that all children complete algebra by 9th grade, ensuring access to AP classes for all students, and exposing children to college in the middle school years should dramatically improve the educational outcomes for our public school students," said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens' Committee for Children.

"Community-based organizations, including the 38 settlement houses and community centers that are members of United Neighborhood Houses, are proud to work with Mayor de Blasio to improve outcomes for New York City's children and youth. We support the ambitious goals of the Mayor's plan including increasing high school graduation, early literacy and access to AP classes, college counseling and computer education. We look forward to continuing to work to support New York City's children and youth," said Nancy Wackstein, Executive Director of the United Neighborhood Houses.

"To reform education in the City of New York in a way that truly prepares every child for the 21st century, providing them with the intellectual tools that they will need to thrive in our new collective future, requires a bold progressive vision that inspires parents and children, and works with them to create a new cultural paradigm of liberal arts education that harnesses science, technology, the arts and mathematics, illuminating the minds of our children helping them to dream dreams again. Mayor Bill de Blasio's Equality & Excellence in Education initiative does just that, and New York City is the better and excited because of it," said Dr. Raymond Rufen-Blanchette, Chair of the Clergy Campaign for Social & Economic Justice and the Faith Commission on Education Reform in New York.

Jonathon Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change, said, "Starting with the universal expansion of pre-Kindergarten, the DOE and the administration are massively expanding educational opportunities for all students and families, not just a certain few. Computer science for all, universal literacy programs and expanded college opportunity programs will begin to break the barriers that exist between low- and high-income students. In the most diverse school system in the world, we need to ensure equity for all students."

"We applaud the Mayor for addressing the inequalities children face in public schools. This is a step in the right direction in providing the necessary resources such as additional guidance counselors and reading coaches for second graders. Children in New York City will have greater opportunities for college and careers with the initiatives proposed," said Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State NAACP.

"Today, the Mayor lays out the right priorities on improving schools. To build a nation we must educate the future generations and every child must have access to education. Our Lord Allah (swt) emphasized the importance of education and knowledge by asking prophet Mohammed to read, which is the key to success. It is the best among us who learn and pass it on to others. We thank Mayor de Blasio for making education one of his priorities," said Imam Souleimane Konate, Masjid Aqsa Mosque and General-Secretary of the Council of African Imams in America.

"The Single Shepard policy speaks exactly to what our district needs: continuous support for our students. Our parents are eager to have their children be supported, encouraged and challenged by a trusted counselor. A counselor that can help their children feel safe and who will know their child for more than just a few months at a time. This program will allow both families and teachers to have a place to go to partner on their student's progress in a meaningful way. I am so grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña for putting Community School District 23 as a focus of this work. I think we will all benefit from this initiative, but most importantly our children will feel seen and heard in a new way that I know will lead to success," said Melanie Mendonca, CEC23 President.

"I love the idea of a dedicated Single Shepard counselor because I know how deep of an impact they can make in our children's lives. My daughter just started 6th grade at a new school. Having one person who she could go to consistently through middle school and high school would make a huge difference as she sorts out her path to go to college and would give me a tremendous peace of mind," said Danielle Poole, CEC7 President, Daughter 6th grade, Bronx Academy of Letters.

"Algebra in 8th grade has always been a major concern of mine," said Nancy Northop, CPAC President, Daughter, 10th grade, Baccalaureate School for Global Education. "I am thrilled to hear that the Mayor and Chancellor want to expand access to algebra courses and make sure that all our high school students have the opportunity to take them. We know that students who take algebra are more likely to graduate high school and go on to college. College access has also been a huge priority for our councils and so hearing that this will be a priority of the Mayor and Chancellor speaks to their understanding of what's needed to see our kids truly succeed."

"As an organization that was founded on the principle that it is the whole community – with parents at the center – that raise children ready for the challenges of college and careers, we applaud the Mayor's focus on the strengthening relationships teachers and parents. Collaboration and trust are central to a child's academic success," said Jill Roche, Executive Director of Hunts Point Alliance for Children.

"The Mayor's speech set a very powerful precedent and set a comprehensive plan for continuing reform within our educational system. It was inclusive of all schools, making evident that his passion is for all of New York City's children," said Reverend Ray Rivera, President of the Latino Pastoral Action Center.

pressoffice@cityhall.nyc.gov

(212) 788-2958