NYCoRE Response to CoVID19

In our first points of unity, we state that we have a responsibility to address racism and neoliberalism as it impacts our students, our profession, and public education as a whole. 

We believe that all life is dignified and we trust that schools can exist more equitably by resisting colonial and capitalist power structures and metrics, like grade-levels, grading and standardized testing. Schools should be places where students are supported to thrive rather than places where they can fail. 

We believe that all students deserve to be embraced holistically and materially supported at school, communities and in their personal lives. 

We believe all schools should have healing practices and more wellness resources and counselors to assist and take the place of law enforcement; we also adamantly reject the militarization of schools.

We believe in the co-creation of flexible, responsive and adaptive learning spaces (schools) alongside families. Our schools should be places where everyone can thrive and self actualize. 

While we have always stood in opposition to the systemic inequities caused by racist, neoliberal policies, we are particularly frustrated by Cuomo, DeBlasio, and Trump’s legislation and action, which is exacerbating the harm to working class and communities of Color during COVID-19. At the same time, we have seen inspiring examples of mutual aid and community support. In that spirit, we invite you all to freedom dream with us; to lean into the resilience of our ancestors and communities; to use our collective imaginations, inside, outside and through the classroom to break free, to dream and seed a world that does not yet exist but that we yearn for.  

NYCoRE stands in solidarity with our students, their families and the broader communities with which we work. We believe there is both potential and a responsibility that we have in this moment. As a result, we have produced this document in which we 1) lay out demands, both our own and those of communities with whom we stand in solidarity and 2) invite you to freedom dream with us by sharing your knowledge, visions for the future, and ways to actualize these demands. 

Immediate Demands (in the next 6 months)

Education-Specific Demands:

We demand more time and space in the school day to center the social-emotional needs of our communities to grieve and process the unprecedented, long term impacts that Covid19 will have on our communities. Teachers and school mental health professionals should be provided adequate resources to support their own as well as students’ wellness specific to the unique issues the pandemic has raised for our school communities (i.e. grief, isolation, etc.). In this demand, we echo the demands of the Movement of Rank and File Educators for Equity and Compassion during Remote Learning.

We demand city-wide guidance around compassionate, transparent, ethical, equitable grading practices during this time. Students and their mental health should be prioritized over grades. In this vein, we wholeheartedly support the state’s cancellation of the Regents in June 2020 as well as other forms of standardized testing. Students should be provided with clear and specific feedback so they grow intellectually, academically and socio-emotionally as they learn (during this time and always). We should not be failing students, but rather work with teachers to create an equitable plan for success for every child. 

We demand free internet for all NYC public school students regardless if they have internet already or not.

We demand the NYC DOE involve parents and school staff in a process to think about what a safe and equitable return to physical schools looks like, including: widespread access to COVID-19 testing, safe distance measures within schools, non-crowded classrooms, etc. The UFT has a similar set of demands but we want to emphasize the need for community involvement and a focus on equity when considering how schools will be reopened. 

We demand a fully-funded ASAP for all incoming CUNY Freshmen.

We demand A Moratorium on All Terminations of New York’s Probationary Educators

Community-Specific Demands: Below are demands from our communities that we have been hearing and want to uplift. Our students’ home conditions are also their school conditions, now more than ever.

Demand for relief from state/city for undocumented folks

Rent Strike from Housing Justice for All coalitio

Ilhan Omar’s legislation, the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, the bill provides full payment forgiveness for rent and mortgages, with no accumulation of debt for renters or homeowners and no negative impact on their credit rating or rental history.

Reinstate Student Youth Employment program.

All vacant housing (rental and NYCHA) should be filled

Open 30,000 empty hotel rooms for all homeless people who need a safe room.

Free Them All Campaigns – We call on Governor Cuomo to use his clemency powers to free all prisoners, particularly those who are at risk due to COVID19, in prison and detention as soon as possible

Long Term: Freedom Dreams (we invite you to add)

Education specific:

Decisions for schools and how money is moved to schools should be made by the stakeholders who are immediately impacted by those decisions. We demand an end to mayoral control of NYC schools. 

Divert funds from regents to support social-emotional wellbeing for our school communities 

The DOE should prioritize and center holistic services that support students’ social, emotional, and health services. Address racial and economic health disparities by increasing funding to “community schools” that offer wraparound holistic health services in school buildings.  

Schools must be spaces in which all students receive support and academic, social, emotional, and health services that are true to their individual needs.

Teachers/Educators need to be supported emotionally.

We continue to embrace the 4 demands of the Black Lives Matter at Schools, which are…

  • End Zero Tolerance and Fund Transformative Justice
  • Hire More Black Educators
  • Fund Counselors Not Cops
  • Mandate Black Studies and Ethnic Studies

Demilitarization of schools (no metal detectors, no police, no ICE agents which have access to schools through police). 

Transformative justice, from Teachers Unite

End all high stakes testing

Cancel edTPA for 2020 and all years thereafter.

Continue to fund implicit bias training for all school staff.

Expand funds for racial equity professional staff and curriculum development.

Allocate funds for culturally sustaining, anti-colonial curriculum development. 

Compassionate, transparent, ethical, equitable grading practices. Some of this work is already happening and should continue: Performance standards consortium

Mastery Collaborative

Society

NY State pays the 4.1 Billion in Foundation Aid per the campaign for fiscal equity.

Citizenship for all undocumented folks 

Affordable Housing for All New Yorkers

Continued political education around Socialist values and practices.

Postponement of the NYCoRE Coference

To our NYCoRE Community, 

We are writing to let you know that we have decided to postpone the NYCoRE 2020 Freedom Dreams Conference for the time being. We hope to reschedule for this May, 2020. At this time, we are not aware of any NYCoRE-affiliated educators, teacher trainers, or other organizers who have tested positive for COVID-19. It is increasingly clear, however, that the coronavirus will spread via community transmission in New York City. The NYCoRE 2020 Conference could potentially speed up that transmission by drawing an intergenerational crowd of people together who will share space and then return to schools and communities across the city, state, and country. As a volunteer-run organization, we do not have the capacity to uphold protocols put in place in New York’s public schools to respond to possible cases or if participants show symptoms during or after the conference.  

As such, we feel it necessary to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 — particularly because of its danger to the elderly and chronically ill. We are deeply committed to maintaining the safety of our community members at all costs, even if it means delaying our freedom dreaming, dancing, and gathering.

NYCoRE Conference Committee members will convene in the next few days to determine refunds and establish a new timeline for the conference. Our decision to reschedule in May will depend on how the situation evolves; we will confirm a new date and location by mid-to late-April, at which time we will communicate with conference presenters, tablers and registrants by email and via social media. We will send out details as soon as we can, and we appreciate your understanding and patience as we respond to a dynamic and challenging situation. 

Peace,

NYCoRE 2020 Conference Committee