By KECIAH BAILEY
Quoting from the Book of Psalms, Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his plan for education reform to thousands of churchgoers at Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.
“For anyone who has read scripture this might be familiar,” he said at the Sunday service on Sept. 20, quoting Psalm 32. “I borrow from one psalm in particular and the quote from the psalm is ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way to go. I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.’”
The mayor unveiled a series of measures, which he called “equity and excellence,” aimed at improving student performance and increasing access to resources, with particular attention to low-performing, low-income school districts.
According to de Blasio, the city has failed to distribute school resources fairly in its neighborhoods.
As such, the mayor’s vision includes computer science for all students across New York by 2025 and advanced placement courses in every high school. He aims to increase graduation rates to 80 percent within the next 10 years and get two-thirds of all high school graduates college-ready. The current graduation rate is 68 percent, and fewer than half of he graduates are ready for college without remedial work.
“We want to reach children who previously were considered unable to go as far as their God-given potential could take them,” de Blasio said.
The plan commits the city to spending an additional $186 million per year and is to be fully implemented by 2026, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
Other steps geared toward educational equity include: all students having algebra by the ninth grade and a “Single Shepherd” program that provides one-on-one support for middle school and high school students in struggling districts to properly equip them for college. This plan, to be implemented by 2017, will begin with District 7 in the Bronx and District 23 in South Central Brooklyn.
“It’s as simple as this. We have to make sure that success is as common in East New York as it is in the Upper East Side,” de Blasio said.
The mayor’s visit to the church was part of a week-long campaign to promote his education vision.De Blasio’s message to the congregation was well received with rounds of cheers and roaring applause.
“Mayor de Blasio is all about equality. This is what makes him a good mayor,” said Tasha Stewart, parent of middle-school children in East New York’s School District 19. “He thinks about the underprivileged and so we just have to pray for his plans. The children’s future depend on it.”
“A lot depends on the parents,” said Gina Bennet, parent of high school students in Coney Island. “But it is true, the public schools in richer neighborhoods are better because they have more resources.”