Traditional public school offerings should be expanded to provide new mental and physical health services and services, universal kindergarten should be expanded, and the state’s school sequestration law should be repealed.
Those were the recommendations in a report released Wednesday by the New York State United Teachers, the labor group that has supported more than a dozen policy changes to how schools operate in the state.
The group’s report comes as schools have faced turmoil and uncertainty over the past 22 months from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report builds on recommendations from education workers on the academic concerns of students as well as how poverty affects children in the classroom.
“Many are struggling to get back to what we considered ‘normal’ before the pandemic. But just getting back to normal is not enough for our students, ”said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “Now is the time to redefine public education as a system that truly supports every child and ensures they have the tools they need to create a better future for our nation and state. Our students deserve better.
The report calls for programs such as free school meals for students, a full expansion of universal preschool, and small class sizes. It also supports the requirement that every school employ social workers, psychologists, counselors and nurses as well as ending school receivership.
And the report supported alternatives to standardized testing.
“Educators have been there for their students and their communities throughout the pandemic, as they always have been,” said Pallotta. “But when children face poverty, when they need help to overcome trauma, when they don’t have the right tools to continue their education, they don’t come to school ready to learn.” in the first place. What educators are asking for are the federal, state, and local supports that every student deserves. Because when students thrive, we all thrive.