October 30, 2017

Educators for Excellence-New York Applauds Improvements to Foster Safer and More Supportive Schools

October 30, 2017 (New York) — Educators for Excellence-New York (E4E-New York), a teacher-led organization, applauded the news that Mayor Bill de Blasio will support a number of key school climate initiatives that E4E-New York members have been advocating for, in order to foster safe, supportive school environments for all students, including:

  • Councilman Mark Treyger’s bill that would require schools to report on incidents of bullying, harassment, intimidation and discrimination;
  • Mandating that schools with high rates of these incidents formulate interventions plans;
  • Expanding the District 18 restorative justice pilot program, which teaches students to take responsibility for their actions, while fostering a sense of school community, to three new districts; and
  • Increasing social-emotional and anti-bias trainings for teachers, administrators and parents.

E4E-New York educators have advocated to improve school climate since 2015, when classroom teachers published recommendations to create positive, student-centered school climates in their policy paper Climate Change. Earlier this month, over 150 E4E-New York members had a conversation with Chancellor Fariña on this topic, presenting her with a letter signed by nearly 1,000 New York teachers, calling for the expansion of the District 18 restorative practices pilot program and for local selected interventions in schools with high rates of discipline incidents. And, last April, E4E-New York hosted a teacher-led event with New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), a co-sponsor of the Treyger bill, and over 100 teachers to provide educators with the skills to create safer, more supportive classroom environments.

"These are exactly the kinds of proactive changes that we have been asking for to help us improve our schools’ climates and cultures,” said E4E-New York member Eli Levine, a physical education teacher at P.S. 91X in the Bronx. “Research shows and we, as educators, know from experience that we have to focus on the whole child, supporting his or her academic, social and emotional growth, if we want them to thrive in school and beyond. I am proud to be a member of the team of teachers who authored recommendations on school climate, worked with nearly 1,000 colleagues to advocate on their behalf, and now see the mayor and members of city council acting to ensure these much-needed changes become a reality in schools across our city.”

“We are grateful for Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s continued commitment to creating safe and supportive schools,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Educators for Excellence. “In our paper, Climate Change, E4E teachers called for greater transparency and guidance to address discipline issues in schools, increased training for educators and parents and the expansion of programs that help students learn to manage their emotions in a healthy way. It is exciting to see this administration respond to the needs and voices of educators by making investments that  help entire school communities come together to meet students’ academic, social and emotional needs. Now we need to focus on high-quality implementation and expanding these supports city-wide.”

As mentioned, E4E-New York published Climate Change in 2015, a teacher-written policy paper that offered recommendations on how to create a more student centered, non-punitive discipline system. These recommendations include:

  • Supporting teachers by expanding trainings in areas that promote positive school culture and expand teacher career ladders dedicated to establishing positive school cultures;
  • Supporting students with a required 250:1 student to counselor ratio and re-integration plans for students suspended for more than five days;
  • Supporting schools by creating competitive grant programs to incentivize schools and districts to adopt non-punitive approaches, such as restorative justice;
  • Holding schools accountable by disaggregating suspension and school climate data in school quality snapshots and institute school quality reports and quality reviews for Alternative Learning Centers;
  • Prioritizing additional training for evaluators and mentors to give specific feedback related to positive classroom culture-building and management techniques; and
  • Creating a classroom management, school climate and de-escalation framework that is shared with teacher preparation programs.