Education is an important issue in The Bronx, perhaps the most important issue. Borough President Diaz has made it very clear that we value our public schools, a commitment that’s apparent when you look at a record in regards to capital funding. In each of my three years in borough hall, education has been the highest priority when it comes to our budget. In total, Diaz has placed almost $22 million into necessary school projects across the Bronx.
With that in mind, we must ask ourselves: is our public school system doing everything that it should to prepare Bronx children for college, for the modern workforce, and for their futures? Are our schools being appropriately funded, by both the City and the State? Are the allocated funds being spent efficiently? Are there enough opportunities for our gifted & talented students… for our English Language Learners…for our special needs students, whether they need extra help or a more challenging learning environment?
In fact, we must also ask these questions of ourselves. Are we doing enough to make sure our children are attending school, are doing their homework, and staying out of trouble? Is the child’s life at home an impediment or catalyst for high performance?
It can be easy to blame the City for our children’s performance in the classroom, but we must remember that this is a two-way street. As parents, as elected officials, and as citizens, it is our responsibility to be an active and equal partner with the public school system, while at the same time holding it accountable.
Our mission is about more than just showing up and being seen. If we want to tackle the many issues that face our public schools, we must be ready to put in the work and face those problems head on. We must also be ready to praise the many schools in our borough that do good work. Each of our educators here can speak of individual stories in their schools—success stories—that show us that we can do right by our children in our public schools.
We still face many challenges. Our flagship high school—the Bronx High School of Science—barely has any Bronx students within its walls. The average SAT scores in our borough need considerable improvement. These are problems that must be addressed in order to offer our students a chance at a real future and the capacity to compete in the global economy.
We have a great deal of hard work to do, myself included, and our work today will outline the blueprint for a new educational future in our borough. Already, the strong team we put together to organize this summit is planning a number of events that will take place in the coming months, all centered on ways to make our public schools work for our students.
We will host a series of special education workshops, in both English and Spanish. We are planning a college fair in March, and our partners in the UFT will host a parent workshop in the Bronx next month. All of these future events come out of our work on this summit.
Those attending heard from some of the best minds in the field of education and had the opportunity to participate in several breakout sessions on important topics, including special education, English Language Learners, and parent involvement.
And that’s just the beginning. Diaz will produce a white paper, outlining the steps we must take to improve public education in the Bronx. What happens here today will play a major role in designing our borough’s future policy on education, so I encourage each of you to take full advantage of this opportunity to participate constructively and enthusiastically.
In the future, when we look at just how much education has improved in the Bronx, when we see that our schools have changed for the better, we will be able to look at this summit as the turning point. This was a historic moment, and all attending played an important role in the future of Bronx education.