New York, NY (September 20, 2023) – The New York City Council’s Technology Committee and Education Committee held a joint hearing today addressing the role of Artificial Intelligence, Emerging Technology, and Computer Instruction in New York City Public Schools. The Committees’ collaborative effort highlights the significance of modern technology in shaping the city’s educational landscape. 

The Department of Education (DOE) is actively implementing emerging technologies and publishing guidance, including generative AI, through various programs to enhance AI-driven learning, administration, and usage, detailed below. However, both Council Members and advocates noted that DOE’s policies and curricula have not kept pace with technological evolution in the past decade. Currently, only 8% of tech jobs in the city are filled by NYC public school graduates, and last year, more than 80% of K-12 students did not participate in or receive computer science education.

Both Committee Chairs stressed the importance of monitoring technology tools used in schools for cybersecurity issues, effectiveness, and suitability for the classroom. Software purchased through DOE enterprise contracts are required to undergo a compliance process, including non-disclosure agreements, data protection, and cloud security assessments, led by the Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI). However, when individual schools choose to use software – including those that are free – they are not always subject to the same compliance process. While the DOE stated they’ve made efforts to increase schools’ participation in the compliance process, there may still be unvetted or unreported software services in use. 

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, who has released a set of recommendations, A Call To Action on AI in NYC, testified at the hearing and shared the concern that DOE is not moving quickly enough to meet the realities of AI’s technological development and students’ ability to learn to use it responsibly. Advocates also testified about their concerns regarding the lack of opt-out processes for data collection, especially given recent data breaches in many schools throughout DOE. DOE testified that there are no opt-out processes for data collection for students and parents.  Regarding data security, DOE stated that while there is 24 hour support available. DOE conducts periodic vulnerability scans, system patches, and promotes multi-factor authentication to mitigate data leaks and breaches through third-party contracts. 


Notable initiatives discussed during the hearing include:

  • The forthcoming AI Policy Lab, set to launch in 2024, featuring an open-resource AI policy toolkit and Citywide AI Literacy training to promote a deeper understanding of these technologies and their classroom applications.
  • Expansion of the ISTE 15-hour “AI Explorations in the Classroom” course.
  • A pilot program in collaboration with Microsoft to introduce a generative AI teaching assistant offering real-time feedback and answering student queries.
  • Support for schools and districts in creating Digital Learning Plans, including provisions for AI and Cybersecurity.
  • A partnership with MIT RAISE (Responsible AI for Social Empowerment and Education) to provide professional learning opportunities for educators focusing on the Day of AI curriculum.
  • Collaborative efforts with CUNY to enhance computer-integrated education training and advance certificates for teachers.
  • School-to-school initiatives aimed at utilizing Chat-GPT effectively for educational purposes.