Wiley proposes investing $100M to hire 1,000 new teachers

Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley said she would allocate at least $100 million to hire 1,000 new teachers to reduce class sizes and help students with academic and social-emotional needs.

The details: In her education plan, released on Thursday morning, Wiley said smaller classes will allow for sufficient social distancing and enable teachers to meet the needs of students through "tailored individualized learning."

"We know that we have severe overcrowding historically in this city — 618 schools before Covid struck were grossly, grossly overcrowded," Wiley said at a press conference in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon. "One of the reasons is we need more teachers as well as more space."

Her plans also include appointing a chief integration and equity officer, integration planning that is borough-focused rather than district-focused and eliminating admissions screens in middle and high schools.

When asked how she will tackle specialized high schools, Wiley pointed to her push to eliminate the screens, adding she’d work to repeal the Specialized High School Admissions Test in Albany but would take action at the five specialized schools that are already under the city’s control — a distinction few other mayoral candidates have made.

"Remember there are schools that use the SHSAT that the mayor has control over today," she said. "So we’re not gonna wait for legislation from Albany. As mayor, I’m gonna do what I have the power to do to end discriminatory practices that I will control over without waiting for other decision makers."

Impact: Wiley plans to pay for the additional teachers with anticipated funding from the state and federal governments as well as through tackling "school construction inefficiencies" like the mistaken overpayment of rent subsidies for charter schools.

Other proposals include providing universal broadband and increasing access to technology for students, ensuring every school building has a full-time nurse and directing funds to students who need them the most, particularly in communities most affected by Covid-19.

She also said she would push for a mental health team at every school that includes at least a guidance counselor, a social worker and a psychologist, as well as a team of academic specialists to offer targeted interventions for students who need it.