We need to strive for educational excellence in our public schools. Too often curriculum and class environments are based around standardized testing, neglecting students interests and dwelling on certain topics instead of covering a larger breadth of material. Unfortunately, many students in college feel like they are truly learning fundamentals such as history, math, and science for the first time when they take these courses.

Although standardized testing is a necessity to gauge scholastic achievement, class environments need to be more diverse and more open giving students room to be interested and to thrive in the material and not solely learn to mark the right bubble on a scantron.

All students should receive proper counseling to make attending  college a reality. Many students are the first in their family to go to college and it is imperative that the school environment is geared towards pushing them towards higher education and to provide them with services to navigate the college admission process. The success of these students matters.

However, at the same time we must recognize that college is not for everybody. Although every student should attend at least two year community college, trade programs should not be shunned the way they are today. There are millions of hard working tradesmen across the the state who are doing better than their white collar counterparts. Trade school should be presented as a viable alternative to 4 year colleges and blue collar professionals should not be shunned.

Students should be given the room to find their interests and to thrive academically while being taught the fundamentals of knowledge: not how to fill in the right bubble on a test. Our children deserve a quality education while being given the support to pursue higher education in the field that interests them.

As Assemblyman I will push for enhanced career and higher education counseling in schools as well as removing barriers from well performing teachers so they can teach a class to the best of their ability. Teachers should be able to push our students forward without worrying about more advanced course material being a detriment to their careers within the school system since students may score lower than if they were taught the bare minimum and the rest of the year was spent teaching for standardized tests.

In addition, it is important to maintain our school honors programs, specialized high schools, and continue to fund the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY as well as the various CUNY College Honors Programs. These honors programs provide an opportunity for our most promising young talent to reach their full potential at a price that families can afford. The Mayor’s plan that is shared by many in Albany to defund and remove these various honors programs is misguided. Not all students learn at the same pace and students need to have programs available to them to fit their individual needs whether that be these accelerated/honors programs or a program with special help for students who need the extra attention.

If we deprive k-12 students of the programs that are best suited for them, achievement will fall. If we drain funding from our CUNY Honors Programs, students will turn elsewhere for their higher education creating a brain drain out of the largest urban public college in the world. This has the potential of severely degraded the quality and reputation of an institution that educates over 250,000 New Yorkers at any given time.