Some of New York City’s most prominent education philanthropies announced their six priorities for Mayor-elect de Blasio today, as he prepares to take over the nation's largest school system.
"Too much public discussion on education reform has been mired in conflict, but there are many areas of reform where there is a great deal of agreement," said Ronna Brown, President of Philanthropy New York, the organization that brought the funders together in a collaborative effort. "And Mayor-elect de Blasio has the opportunity to lead the nation in closing the achievement gap by focusing on making sure every student is college and career ready. It is an ambitious goal- but one to which philanthropy can contribute meaningfully."
The group, known collectively as Education Funders Research Initiative (Ed Funders), comprises: the Altman Foundation, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, Caroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, Charles Hayden Foundation, Charles T. Harris III, Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Ford Foundation, Fordham Street Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Pinkerton Foundation, Trinity Wall Street, United Way of New York City and Donors Education Collaborative.
Ed Funders commissioned three independent research papers to examine the past decade of education reform. The first two papers were released at an event in October. The third was released today. All are viewable online here: http://www.edfundersresearch.org/research.
Based on that research, the funding community identified 6 priorities for the new Administration, priorities that build on what works and address long-standing racial, ethnic and socio-economic achievement gaps among students:
Take action to dramatically improve literacy in the early grades, so more students are prepared for high school. This should include intensive interventions for struggling readers, as well as expanded early education, full-day pre-kindergarten, and targeted investments in community-based supports for low-income families and black and Latino students, who have the lowest rates of academic success and reading proficiency.
2. COMMON CORE
Use the newly adopted Common Core standards to promote college readiness, by investing greater attention and resources into the teaching of reading, writing, research, analysis, problem solving and other academic behaviors, as well as social and emotional skills to prepare students for rigorous coursework before they graduate.
3. COLLEGE AND CAREER PLANNING
Concentrate more resources, either directly or through partnerships with community based organizations, in early and ongoing support for college and career guidance especially for the majority of young people who don’t have this support in their own families.
Ensure a strong accountability system that uses a wider range of performance measures, making it more informative for and responsive to the needs of school leaders, school staff and families.
5. SCHOOL LEADERSHIP
Retain principals’ important ability to control hiring, budgets and curriculum, but establish a clear chain of command that provides supervision and also appropriate support by superintendents and/or network leaders.
6. SYSTEMIC SUPPORT
Strengthen traditional zoned neighborhood schools and develop structures to connect all schools—neighborhood, magnet and charters alike—within given geographic areas or networks.
"For too long, ideologies have driven the debate," continued Brown. "Now we have evidence-based research that shows us what works – and what can be done better. We are hopeful Mayor elect de Blasio will work closely with the funding community to implement these new priorities so that college and career readiness can be a reality for every student.”
For more information on the Education Funders Research Initiative, visit www.edfundersresearch.org.