For the Students

Ensuring New York’s Students Are Getting The Leaders They Deserve

In most New York school districts, elected school boards run our schools.

Their members establish the district’s values and determine the allocation of resources, including making the most important human capital decisions.

Their work can ensure that a child’s zip code and circumstances do not have to determine her future, and build education systems with the transformative power to close opportunity and achievement gaps.

With school board elections coming up, this project aims to increase public awareness and engagement about key education achievement and equity issues in New York. We asked school board candidates in some of the state’s largest school districts to share their views on these issues.

Read What They Said

Every School Board Member Can Take Steps to Advance Equity and Achievement Around These 5 Critical Issues

We asked candidates how they would address these issues if elected.

Read Candidate Responses
Issue: Course Access

Access to rigorous courses that prepare all students for college and careers

Across New York State, White students were given nearly twice as much access as their Latino and Black peers to a range of key gatekeeper and advanced courses in middle and high school in the 2016-17 school year. They were nearly three times as likely to be enrolled in advanced courses like Advanced Placement Math and Science. Students of color are less likely to attend schools that offer these important courses and, even when they do attend schools that have the classes, they are less likely to be given access.

Issue: Graduation Pathways

The value of a high school diploma

New York State has recently expanded the ways that students can earn a high school diploma. These new rules can provide multiple pathways for students to demonstrate college and career readiness, helping more students prepare for success after graduation. But they can also be used to “track” students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities into less rigorous coursework and lower graduation standards. School districts are responsible for implementing the new multiple pathways.

Issue: Resource Allocation

School funding and student success

New York’s school districts are frequently failing to provide their highest-need schools with significantly greater levels of resources so that all students receive the support they need to succeed. Part of the equation depends on how much funding the district receives from the state, and part depends on how the district chooses to allocate the resources it controls. For the 2018-19 school year, most school districts planned relatively little difference in budgeted per-pupil funding levels between their schools that serve the smallest share of low-income students compared to their schools serving the highest share of low-income students. Schools that serve students with greater needs require significantly greater funding than other schools.

Issue: Educators

Access to strong, well-supported, and diverse educators

The most important resource decisions revolve around access to great teachers and school leaders. One-third of all New York schools had no Black or Latino teachers in the 2015-16 school year. As a result, more than 115,000 Latino and Black students were enrolled in schools without a single full-time same-race/ethnicity teacher, and nearly half of the state’s White students attended schools without a single full-time Latino or Black teacher. In addition, ensuring that the students with the greatest needs have access to the strongest educators is vital for student success.

Issue: School Discipline

Suspensions and the school-to-prison pipeline

Schools must take steps to support all students in the classroom, not push them out of it. New York schools suspended a student at least once every minute during the 2016-17 school year. During that period, New York State’s education system suspended Black students at more than four times the rate of White students outside of New York City. Under the state’s new accountability system, schools will soon be held accountable for the out-of-school suspension rates of all groups of students.

About this Project

The Education Trust–New York works to eliminate the gaps in equity, opportunity, and achievement that hold back too many students from reaching their full potential, especially those who are low-income or students of color, in order to enable all students in New York State to achieve at high levels — from early childhood through college.

With school board elections coming up, this project aims to increase public awareness and engagement about key education achievement and equity issues in New York.

Want more information? Email us at [email protected].