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Parents Weigh In On How NYC Schools Should Spend Our Federal Relief Money

Last week, Chalkbeat reported:

New York City public schools are projected to receive $4.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief, bringing a significant financial boost as education officials plan for the fall… (B)ig questions remain, including how state and city officials will use this new infusion of cash — roughly $4,500 more per student — to help schools rebound from a year of unprecedented disruption…. But one thing is certain: one-fifth of the money to districts must be spent on “evidence-based” practices to combat “learning loss,” which amounts to about $900 million for New York City….

Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter… said more answers would come soon as to whether individual schools will be able to choose how to spend the money or whether the education department will issue directives…. The money can be used until 2024.

So while bureaucrats reel, wheel, and (backroom) deal, we asked the parents of NYC how they’d like to see our money spent to help our children. Here’s what they said:

Diana: I think the money would have the most impact by expanding classrooms and teachers, thereby reducing class sizes. More one-on-one teacher attention for each student has the potential to bridge achievement gaps between different socio-economic student groups.

Alisa: I’m a community college professor and quite worried about how this will affect kids’ learning long-term. I would love to see a substantial fund for small group tutoring for the kids who have fallen behind. I feel like small groups of 2-5 students, arranged by both skill level and interest, with a strong interweaving of the students’ interest and no shaming of students for what they don’t know could make a big difference.

J.E.: I would like to see the DOE spend the money on: STEM devices and materials to build gears/robots, coding classes, typing, classes on learning new applications and online safety. Arts & Music instruments, supplies, live performances in concert halls and theatres. FUN field trips to the zoo, liberty science, hall of science, art museums, natural history museum, e.t.c. 

Tatyana: I would say buy everyone a Beast Academy subscription at the grade level (or below grade level) to catch up on math.

Maria: Pay teachers who want to work over the summer to be available for classes (virtual or in person) for families that desire. The loss of solid writing instruction during remote and hybrid learning is scary. Let’s use the summer to get these kids back on track. A course specifically on writing would be helpful. (Also, since the mayor is violating federal law by mandating COVID-19 tests as a condition of in person learning in schools, does accepting this federal relief money mean he’ll be compelled to follow federal law as it relates to the testing?)

Kate: I  can only imagine the ways the DOE will (waste) spend this money. But I would want to see the money spent on:

1.       Teachers – whether hiring back or hiring more so each school can staff their “programming” needs

2.       Whatever it takes to get the kids in school 5 days a week. And this should be a school-by-school issue not a one size fits all spend E.g. ventilation, fitting out large spaces into socially distanced classrooms; or anything else the individual principals say they need.

3.       Technology for those kids who need it

4.       School run after school programs staffed with educators to help kids with homework or skills that they are lacking from this year.

Vicky: I would like to see a certain part of the budget to be used for after-school/extracurricular activities for families who are in desperate need of childcare due to time conflict with their work schedule(s). 

David: They should create thousands of merit-based scholarships for top scholars going to top universities.  

Stephen: Add Latin from 4th grade on and use the rest to double or triple the number of SHSAT high schools

F.F.: Professional development which is critical to improving school performance and student achievement – including curriculum developers, curriculum partnerships with programs like NY Historical Society, Columbia Teachers College Reading Writing Program, etc.

Enrichment programs like the Central Park Zoo (or other NY Wildlife Conservation Society Programs), Guggenheim Museum, NY Botanical Garden, Jazz at Lincoln Center, NY Historical Society, Arch for Kids, National Dance Institute, African Dance, Creative Stages, language and other cultural programs, and STEM residencies and/or positions.

Extra academic support and intervention programs like Reading Recovery, test prep (for State Tests, Regents, APs, SHSATs, etc.), extra study groups or one on one supports with teachers, student teachers, etc., including staff training and development to effectively run these programs.

Extra staff either to make classrooms smaller or so that teachers have extra help in the classroom and can focus more individualized attention on those students that need the extra support or motivation. 

Technology for all – make sure that every student that needs a device (internet and/or Wi-Fi enabled) has one, that the device is operable, and that the student knows how and are able to deftly use them. 

(Ed note: To donate or claim a remote learning device, click here.)

Got a suggestion of your own for how the money should be spent? Let us know in the Comments!

We’re doing our best to make sure the Department of Education listens to parents!

What do you think?

One thought on “Parents Weigh In On How NYC Schools Should Spend Our Federal Relief Money

  1. It’s important to remember that, as it stands now, the money will supplant State funding and not supplement so there may not be a pot of money for all of these ideas. Contact your State Assembly member and Senator and urge them make sure the budget doesn’t pass as it stands now.

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