Public Education To Give Every Child A Real Chance

New data shows overwhelmingly that investments in early childhood and public education are essential to social mobility. We will help make sure all New York City children – starting at birth – show up ready for school, prepared to succeed in the evolving economy.

Key Campaign #11: Universal Child Care from Birth to Four

Seventy-six percent of poor children in New York City are not reading on grade level, which by the third grade makes these students several times less likely to graduate than a proficient, wealthier peer. All children should enter school ready to succeed, and early childhood enrichment and education can be the defining difference between a child who is ready for school and one starting school already behind. “Birth to Four” programming starts by working with parents of newborns to provide education, identify needs, and offer need-specific supports to make sure that children show up at school ready to learn. “Birth to Four” programming will not only help ensure that all children enter school ready to achieve success; it can also help families access adequate childcare, easing economic pressures families face when caring for children outside of school.

  • Pre-Kindergarten for All (Three and Four Year-Olds) - New York City should build on the tremendous success of Universal Pre-Kindergarten by using federal dollars to expand the program so that every three and four year-old has access in their neighborhood.
  • Early Learning for All - For all infants and toddlers, the City should use federal and state dollars to provide families with access to free or affordable childcare and early learning so parents can return to work.
  • Establish a "Birth to Four" Agency - City services for young children are spread across too many agencies. A unified “Birth to Four” agency would integrate early childhood services, better identify needs, and nurture children from delivery room to kindergarten.

Key Campaign #12: End Youth Hunger

Over 75% of city public school students are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch, an estimated 780,000 students. However, because of the stigma associated with school lunch— and fear of the required paperwork and documentation required from undocumented families — a third of income eligible city students do not participate in the school lunch program. Overall, 81% of elementary school students eat school lunch, but the number drops to 61% by middle school; 38% in high school.

We support maximizing federal incentives programs, while minimizing arduous paperwork to make free meals accessible to all public students:

  • Breakfast After the Bell - Breakfast is free before school but children who arrive late can go hungry all day. We must bring breakfast into the classroom so every child gets a chance to start their day on a full stomach, ready to learn.
  • Lunch for Learning - The City’s pilot providing universal free school lunch to middle school students must be expanded to all grades. Doing so increases federal funding that covers more than 80 cents on every dollar New York City spends on lunch.
  • Snacks and Supper - Two meals a day is a good start but children in public schools need access to snacks and dinner following afterschool programming, all of which can be funded with federal dollars for the City.
  • Free Summer Meals - The city must provide free summer breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for our city’s youth so children aren’t hungry when they are out of school.

Key Campaign #13: School Diversity, Desegregation, & Culturally Responsive Education

More than six decades after Brown v. Board of Education, the New York City public school system still has a ways to go when it comes to integration and inclusion, as one of the most segregated school systems in the country. Not only are integrated schools and curriculums central to actualizing a more inclusive city; data also shows that school integration and culturally responsive curriculums markedly improve education and student achievement.

NYC should:

  • Adopt and Implement a City-wide School Integration Plan - The Department of Education (DOE) should enact a comprehensive plan for school integration that engages stakeholders, sets measurable goals, and implements concrete actions at every level of K-12 education.
  • Permit “Controlled Choice” and District-Wide Diversity Implementation - Community Education Councils in Districts 1, 3, 13, and 15 are interested in adopting diversity plans district-wide, including the “controlled choice” model which has had success in other cities.
  • Support Schools that Desegregate - Provide support for diversity and desegregation efforts including transportation, language access, professional development, and resources for teachers and administrators.
  • Support the Campaign for Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) in NYC - CRE must be implemented to ensure that DOE staff and curriculum reflects the rich diversity of NYC.
  • Create School Desegregation Monitor - Ensure runaway and homeless youth have support to exit homelessness through access to sufficient crisis beds, long-term housing, and rental assistance. 

Key Campaign #14: After School for All

High-quality after-school programs can play a critical role in improving young people’s chances of success both in school and in life. By investing in engaged learning opportunities, we can give our young residents an opportunity to cultivate critical skills, while relieving parents of the stress of finding child care or worrying about their children being unsupervised.

We support providing all youth with safe, high-quality learning and recreational opportunities including:

  • After School for All - The Comprehensive After School System of NYC (COMPASS NYC) must be expanded from 97,000 slots for youth to slots for all 1.1 million students in the public schools they attend and supporting center-based programs.
  • Summer Youth Programs for All - School’s Out NYC (SONYC) must be expanded to all public school students, not just middle school, with programming during work hours (9 to 5) so low-income parents can be relieved of childcare and children can receive enrichment.
  • Expand Community Learning Schools - Community Learning Schools provide wrap-around services to families by turning the school into a community center after hours. Students can receive high-quality after-hours academic help, and families can access social services. Through the Adult Literacy Initiative, Community Schools have also become established resource for community members seeking to improve literacy skills.

Key Campaign #15: Free & Strong CUNY

For too many students, the cost of tuition prevents them from starting or completing a college degree, yet high school graduation alone is not enough in today’s economy. High school graduation rates are up in our city, and we must continue investing in our students with access to opportunities to continue education without financial barriers. While CUNY was tuition-free for many students until 1970, because of the city's fiscal crisis, New York State took over the system and began charging tuition. CUNY should once again be free. But affordability won’t be meaningful without new investment in quality education. Budget cuts have led to large class sizes, an increasing percentage of adjunct faculty, inadequate support for students, and facilities that fall below the standard of the world-class institution that CUNY must remain.

  • Free CUNY - CUNY should once again be tuition-free so all students, regardless of citizenship status, have access to a higher education without debt.
  • Strong CUNY - CUNY needs 4,000 more full-time faculty to provide appropriate class size, a restructuring of full-time faculty workload for more time for students and research, and funding to support its 12,000 adjunct faculty. We must also increase public investment in CUNY, oppose finance policies that would increase CUNY's dependence on tuition, baseline capital funding to address CUNY's backlog of critical building maintenance, and modernize CUNY's buildings and classrooms for the future.

Career and Technical Education 

New York City needs career and technical training that will prepare our youth and adults for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers.

Health Education with Access to Reproductive Health and Choice

We must ensure youth have access to ageappropriate health and sexual education programs that give them accurate information and resources they need to understand gender and sexuality so they can make responsible decisions and stay healthy.


Universal Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP)

SYEP provides summer jobs to thousands of youth (ages 14 to 24) from early July to mid-August to build their resumes in a safe location and contribute to their families’ incomes. In 2016, 139,916 youth applied for only 60,113 slots. Youth ages 14 to 24 must have the guarantee of Summer Youth Employment at $15 an hour available for the whole summer, with funding made available by the FY19 Preliminary Budget to ensure program quality. 

Universal Youth Employment

New York City must guarantee Universal Youth Employment to all youth ages 14 to 24 through new and existing programs such as the Out-of-School, In-School Youth, Young Adult Internship, and Work, Learn & Grow Employment programs. Providers also need more funding to build up their outreach programs and supportive services. This funding will allow providers to more effectively serve youth who are disconnected from work, school, and community groups, via relationships that result in greater service utilization.