4. The long-term effects of COVID-19 on students and schools will take years to understand. It is widely acknowledged that arts education provides authentic ways for students to build long-term social-emotional competencies (such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, empathy, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making). How will you provide school communities with the tools and resources needed to confront and address trauma while fostering a welcoming, supportive environment?
I recently released a 27-point education plan that I believe will take our students from pandemic to lifelong progress and fundamentally transform our educational continuum so that every child has the opportunities they deserve from birth to college or career. In particular, as Mayor, I would address the academic and socio-emotional challenges our 1.1 million public school students are facing — and will continue to shoulder the impacts of for years to come — in the following ways:
- Significantly expand school-based mental health services: Our students and children have experienced enormous loss during this last year, exacerbating the mental health crisis among our youth. Teen suicide is sadly on the rise and in too many schools, students have no where to turn whether they’re in crisis or experiencing mental health stressors. As Mayor, I would triple the number of social workers in schools and ensure every school is staffed with full-time culturally competent and trauma-informed mental health professions at a national standard of 1:250. Additionally, I would expand small social emotional learning advisories in all middle and high schools, and establish a true mental health continuum to connect students to medical care outside the school setting. Last, I would remove NYPD officers from schools to minimize traumatic interventions, particularly for Black and Latinx students.
- Create “Fast Track Benefits” to connect families to services within a trusted environment. Families who qualify for various public benefits often do not apply because they are not connected to resources. To meet families and students in-need where they are — at school — I would ensure a benefit coordinator is in every school, to be an advocate for families in need, connect them to resources — from SNAP to the EITC — and guide families through the benefits application process within a trusted environment.
- Establish free “high dosage tutoring” by creating an NYC Tutoring Corps. Students who have fallen behind during the pandemic need additional attention — and as Mayor, I would mobilize Federal stimulus funds set aside for AmeriCorp and learning loss to launch an NYC tutoring corp to ensure every student has access to high dose group tutoring built into the school day in partnership with higher education institutions like CUNY.