Now is the time to implement proven practices that establish strong foundations for growth in our schools. Together, we can lay the groundwork for our students that will enable them to thrive academically, socially and emotionally. This report offers recommendations by educators from around the state to school leaders, policy makers and lawmakers.
Public schools in New York are the center of our communities. However, too many families continue to face obstacles to success, including poverty, lack of access to health and social services, housing and food insecurity, and a lack of reliable transportation and internet services that are essential for success in school and the workplace.
Students thrive academically when their social and emotional needs also are met. In a study of over 200 school-based, universal Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs, participants demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance.
Teaching the long history of racial injustice in society is an important responsibility of our public school system and speaks to the struggles Americans have fought to overcome and continue to battle, to strengthen our great country. Knowledge and understanding of this history, and a vision of our path forward as Americans, is an essential pillar of our civil society.
Standards should guide instruction but not drive an over-emphasis on standardized assessments. Teachers need to be able to differentiate instruction and teach to the needs of the students, not to the test itself. A de-emphasis on high-stakes testing will allow teachers to fully implement more experiential, authentic work that accurately and reliably reflects student learning.
Technology should only be used to enhance, not replace, in-person learning in our schools. In many cases, the use of technology during the pandemic deteriorated the learning experience and placed unnecessary burdens on teachers and students. Teachers reported concerns about student and family privacy, frequent distractions, the integrity of student work and the lack of access to reliable internet.
Every school in New York was impacted by the pandemic and every educator has worked to support their community through these challenging times. As we return to pre-pandemic routines and expectations, schools must have the resources to support students and families in need and must establish best practices in teaching and learning.
We have the chance to provide a solid foundation for our students, one that helps them thrive academically, socially and emotionally. As we begin the slow return to normal, let’s make the smart choice. Let’s give public schools the resources they need to help students, and their families, succeed.