Education in the 21st century is not at all what we have imagined. The present-day challenges that families across District 45 and beyond face are inexcusable.

We are nearly halfway through the 2020-2021 school year and yet 77,000 students still lack the internet-equipped iPads that are necessary for remote learning. Without computers or affordable internet access, the achievement gap will only worsen in divested communities. These disparities disproportionately affect Black and Brown communities and will only perpetuate the racial barriers that they must overcome throughout their lifetime.

Today, I introduced three pieces of legislation, co-sponsored by my colleagues, Council Members Kallos and Treyger, to close the digital divide and expand educational equity in New York City through the use of modern technology. Additionally, families will receive the support that they need to enhance the educational experience that their children deserve.

  • Intro 2138 – A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to providing every public school student with an internet ready laptop computer.
  • Reso 1473 – A resolution calling on the New York City Department of Education to provide families of children with disabilities the necessary training and equipment to properly enable distance learning.
  • Reso 1474 – A resolution calling upon the New York City Department of Education to station a distance learning specialist in each school district, to provide critical local assistance with issues related to distance learning.

New York City, the largest and wealthiest city in the country, should be more than capable of providing all students ⁠— regardless of race, income, or abilities ⁠— with a high-quality education and the fundamental skills to excel in their studies.

As we focus on bridging the digital divide, we must not forget the families of children with disabilities who have had to cope with even greater difficulties during remote learning to provide their children with the necessary support to excel.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the present-day challenges that Black and Brown students must overcome to regularly attend classes and submit their coursework.

As a proud product of public school, I know firsthand that there are educators whose passion for knowledge is contagious and their commitment to student success is evident. With these legislative items, we will address the accessibility gap and support educational equity for all students.