BEGIN WITH BASICS CURRICULUM
The importance of foundational skills in early education cannot be overstated. We must implement evidenced-based best practices in reading and math in PreK–3. Strong basic skills coupled with exploratory and emotional learning will prepare our students for future academic success.
BEST PRACTICES DASHBOARD & INTERSCHOOL ROUNDTABLES
There are examples of excellence in New Haven Public Schools. We must find better ways to highlight and replicate what’s working for our students. We will create a district-wide system for sharing best practices and innovative strategies and increase opportunities for teachers and administrators to collaborate to improve student achievement.
COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP PRACTICES
To maximize potential in our school system we must respect diversity of opinion and encourage representation from teachers, administrators, alumni, parents and students in district planning.
To increase her power and responsibility over New Haven Public Schools, Mayor Harp assumed the presidency of the Board of Education in 2015. Harp also outlined ten specific policy initiatives for completion during her tenure as board president. To date no progress has been made on the majority of those initiatives. This ill-advised, politically-motivated decision for the mayor to be both chief executive of the city and president of the Board of Education set a negative precedent for City Hall’s interaction with the school system. Moreover it resulted in one of the most tumultuous times in New Haven Public Schools’ history.
In January 2017, Mayor Harp ended her ineffectual tenure as board president. Harp generously evaluated her own performance as “mezza mezza” or so-so. We cannot play political games with our children’s futures.
As mayor I will reverse the trend of top-down educational leadership. I will work collaboratively with other members of the Board of Education and the Board of Alders with a singular focus on student achievement.
DISTRICT STRATEGIC PLANNING
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” While there is now an effort underway to produce a district strategic plan, it took far too long to realize the importance of committing to a specific vision for New Haven Public Schools. The superintendent should be required to consistently maintain a strategic plan, outlining an explicit pathway to improve student achievement that can be modified as necessary.
FOCUS ON PROFICIENCY
College persistence and completion rates (for students not pursuing technical paths) are the most important measures of how well we’ve prepared learners for life. Ignoring this fact, Mayor Harp has repeatedly defined high school graduation rates as the key measure of success and touted increased graduation rates as evidence of progress under her controversial leadership of the Board of Education.
Notwithstanding the fact that high school graduation rates are an easily manipulated measure of student achievement, it is wholly inadequate to simply graduate students without the skills necessary to succeed. I reject the politically distracting overemphasis on high school graduation rates and will return focus to increasing student skill levels.
As mayor I will advocate for advancing students based on proficiency and concept mastery. I will emphasize student learning as the primary measure of achievement.
STEM EDUCATOR PIPELINE
Ten of the top 14 fastest-growing industries require STEM training; New Haven has a shortage of STEM teachers. We should partner with local and national organizations such as 100Kin10 to recruit, train and retain a diverse pool of science, technology, engineering and math teachers to prepare students for 21st Century jobs.
WHOLE CHILD DEVELOPMENT
In order to thrive academically, students have to be healthy, safe, engaged and supported. We must provide adequate and equitable wraparound services in schools to promote social development and address non-academic student needs. We need to redefine the school district’s family and community engagement strategy to ensure that it is directly supportive of whole child development. We will more actively collaborate with the nonprofit sector to deliver wraparound services cost effectively.
Parent participation is a shared responsibility and a critical input in transforming schools into centers of student achievement. We have to commit to engaging parents in more meaningful ways by strengthening the Citywide Parent Leadership Team and Parent University.
IMMERSIVE DUAL LANGUAGE EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS
We live in an increasingly integrated and interconnected world. To prepare New Haven students for global citizenship we have to increase the prevalence of multilingual, immersive education in our schools. Early second language instruction also provides students advantages in cognition and brain function. We must expand the dual language immersion programs at John C. Daniels School to more city schools and make dual language instruction available to both native and non-native English speakers.
ALTERNATIVES TO COLLEGE
Every student will not walk the same path, but all students need a path to economic stability. We need to expand career and technical education, including opportunities to obtain industry certifications through job and practical skills training in partnership with businesses, building trades unions, technical high schools and apprenticeship programs.
The goal of education is to prepare children for independent, productive and fulfilling lives. To accomplish this goal we must ensure that all students have essential post-graduation skills and tools for success.
As mayor I will work with the Board of Education to restore leadership accountability and strategic focus to New Haven Public Schools’ college and career readiness programs.
FINANCIAL LITERACY IN ALL SCHOOLS
According to a 2014 report from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, only 24% of millennials (18 to 34) were able to answer four out of five questions correctly on a financial literacy quiz. Yet the number of personal financial transactions in which we all engage over our lifetimes continually grows. It is our responsibility to equip students, particularly those from low-income families, with the tools to achieve secure financial futures. We should partner with national organizations such as the High School Financial Planning Program and local financial experts to ensure that all New Haven public high schools robustly integrate financial education into their curriculums. Whether through embedding financial literacy curriculum in current courses or designing extracurricular activities that expose students to financial decision-making, we must commit that all New Haven Public Schools students will graduate with working knowledge of core personal finance concepts such as saving, budgeting, debt management, education financing, credit management, identity protection, taxes, loans and insurance.
No student should “fall through the cracks” in meeting graduation requirements. We need to consolidate district data to assist schools in maintaining a personal tracker for each student to monitor progress towards graduation.
At a 2016 Board of Education meeting, student Board of Education members communicated that the critical guidance function in NHPS is broken. Many high school students have shared with me that they rely on Google as their primary resource to assist with college admissions. We must restore confidence, quality and accountability to the school counseling program, beginning exposure to college and career pathways in 6th grade and ensuring more stability in student-counselor assignments.
HIGHER EDUCATION ALIGNMENT
We cannot improve college persistence and graduation rates unless students are capable of completing college-level work. We need to partner more proactively with colleges and universities to ensure vertical alignment between schools’ academic performance expectations and the New Haven Public Schools curriculum.
HIGH SCHOOL CAREER EXTERNSHIPS
Limited exposure means limited achievement as one can only dream what one can imagine and one can only achieve what one can dream. We should provide high school seniors with credit-based, spring externships to increase exposure to career paths; provide professional skills training; and give students the opportunity to see themselves in new lights through new experiences.
Many New Haven Public Schools students rely on income from summer employment to help meet basic needs and prepare financially for college. We need to expand opportunities for students to earn income through the Youth@Work program by attracting more employment partners and sponsors.
The most important education dollars we spend are those that directly impact student learning in the classroom. The Dollars@Desks Fiscal Responsibility Plan will ensure that more education dollars reach students directly. The plan will also ensure that we make fiscally sound education spending decisions.
EDUCATION FUNDING RESOURCE CENTER
Launch virtual resource center for educators, district staff and parents to obtain fundraising information and tools and find school-based grant opportunities. Restore citywide funding newsletter from the Mayor’s Office.
MONETIZING NEW HAVEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS' ASSETS
Require Chief Operating/Finance Officer to develop and maintain a long-term, sustainable plan to maximize revenue from New Haven Public Schools’ property portfolio and other assets that can be monetized or sold.
"PARENTS GET GRANTS" INITIATIVE
Train and support parents, educators and district staff in grant writing for schools.
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS FOR NEW HAVEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
As mayor I will personally engage the philanthropic and business communities for thought leadership and financial investment in our public school system. We must strengthen public schools by leveraging the financial and social capital of businesses, foundations, non-profits and community stakeholders through school-based advisory boards that expand resources and opportunities for students and educators. The Engineering and Science University Magnet School currently has a strong advisory board – that model should be replicated. Each school leader will be encouraged and supported in creating a school-based advisory board that reflects the schools’ identity.
SPENDING REDUCTION PLAN
Require Superintendent to develop and maintain a permanent plan that identifies and tracks cost savings measures outside of classrooms.
Technology as a Catalyst to Achievement
Technology is not simply a means to an end in education. It is a foundation of instruction and information delivery. It is a critical tool for knowledge management and process improvement.
As mayor I will create a sense of urgency and culture of change around the importance of IT excellence in New Haven’s schools. Across the city we will work to close the digital divide so students from low-income families have greater access to technology in their homes.
DISTRICT INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY STRATEGIC PLAN
Create a plan that aligns IT strategies with student achievement, parent and stakeholder engagement, and district operational goals. New Haven Public Schools currently has no strategic IT plan.
Expand integration of technology and learning through digital devices in classrooms; school-library partnerships; broadband discount programs for low-income families; and laptop/tablet home loans. Students have to be able to apply technology skills to prepare for the 21st century workforce. Expand computer science, coding, gaming, robotics, programming and critical thinking curriculum in schools.
ACCOUNTABLE TECHNOLOGY ACQUISITION
Make certain that New Haven Public Schools has efficient and equitable processes for acquiring and maintaining IT services and optimizing leasing opportunities, Federal e-Rate programs and other cost savings opportunities.