“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
– Helen Keller
After six months as your Schools Chancellor, I feel enormous gratitude to all of you as we approach the end of the school year.
In that short period of time, you have all helped me to begin to realize my vision of empowering our families to be genuine partners in the decisions we make together for our students. Your input is shaping everything we are doing in our schools, and we can all see the difference!
Think back to when I first started on January 3, at the height of the Omicron variant surge, when our attendance rate was only 65 percent. We implemented a variety of measures to improve safety called ,”Stay Safe, Stay Open.” That included increased testing and offering highly successful vaccinations on-site for our students.
By the end of January and continuing since then, our attendance returned to nearly 90 percent. After more than two years of upheaval and trauma caused by the pandemic, our families, students, and staff members deserve so much credit for persevering and enabling us to end this school year on such a high note!
All of the initiatives that we announced in recent months are the result of input from our families and will be developed in partnership with them. Those include our improved literacy instruction and dyslexia interventions, updated violence interruption programming to improve safety, expanded access to gifted and talented programs, and a variety of new efforts to enable our high school students to gain skills valued in the workforce.
We are relying on our families because I have learned throughout my lifelong career as a City educator that the best ideas and most successful initiatives arise from conversations with families. You know the needs of your children and the strengths and weaknesses of your schools better than anyone. I have been preaching to everyone throughout our school system that they need to seriously engage with families and respond effectively to their concerns. No more imposing big changes without first seeking meaningful feedback from our families.
For those reasons, we are streamlining our school system and opening up clearer channels of communication with our leaders. This includes empowering our local district superintendents and school principals so that families can more directly and easily communicate with those in charge. In recent weeks, families across the City have had opportunities to meet at town halls with finalists for the City’s 45 school district superintendent positions to ensure that the most qualified and effective individuals fill those vital roles. Thanks to your feedback, I am confident that you will be excited about the leader of your school district starting July 1—you’ll be able to learn more on our official “District Leadership” webpage.
I hope you’ll agree that we’re listening, we hear you, and together, we’re building a new future for City public schools!
In the meantime, as you begin the summer season, it is my hope that you’ll consider any of the wonderful cultural and recreational opportunities listed below—after all, the City is home to some of the most amazing venues and activities that you and your family can enjoy and learn from all summer long. I encourage you to take advantage of all the great family-friendly fun that New York City has to offer.
On behalf of the NYC Department of Education, have a safe and fun summer—the best is yet to come as we advance toward the 2022–23 school year!
David C. Banks
New York City Schools Chancellor
Moments from the Past Six Months
Lists of Fun Summer Activities for NYC Families
From information about the City’s outdoor pools and beaches, to listings of free summer movies and concerts taking place across the five boroughs, NYC Parks’ Summer Fun Guide is a great way to plan a day of outdoor recreation and adventure for the whole family this season.
Suggested Reading for Parents
“Raising Can-Do Kids: Giving Children the Tools to Thrive in a Fast-Changing World“
by Richard Rende, Ph.D and Jen Prosek
As we continue our efforts preparing our students for an uncertain, ever-changing world, I find that this book provides outstanding guidance for families seeking to raise children who are truly prepared for the unknown. The book looks to the world of entrepreneurship for insights into child development, and it offers thoughtful, relatable examples that can help raise “future-proof” children ready to face tomorrow’s challenges on their own terms.