Newly Expanded “Respect for All” Initiative Will Train All Pedagogical DOE Staff, Hold Principals More Accountable
City Hall – City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced a major expansion of Respect for All, an anti-bias program that combats bullying and harassment in New York City public schools. The newly expanded initiative will extend training programs to all elementary school teachers and counselors, provide principals with additional guidance in creating anti-bullying plans, and make creation of a safe and supportive learning environment factor into school evaluations.
Back in 2007, Speaker Quinn and the City Council first worked with the Mayor’s office and the Department of Education (DOE) to create a bullying prevention program, and help provide students with ways to deal with harassment when it occurs. While Respect for All has already demonstrated some success, Speaker Quinn met with numerous advocates to look for ways to expand and improve on the program. Speaker Quinn then worked with both the Mayor and Chancellor to find ways to implement several key improvements.
“We have a responsibility to provide every student in New York City with a safe and inclusive learning environment,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Eliminating bullying and harassment in our schools is critical to preventing hate among future generations. For the past two years, we’ve been working with advocates and community members to expand our ‘Respect for All’ program. And now, by increasing training opportunities and accountability, we’ve created the most comprehensive anti-harassment initiative in the nation.”
“Student safety is an absolute priority in our schools. When students feel threatened or discriminated against, they cannot focus on teaching and learning,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We have set an example nationally in our efforts to combat intolerance and reduce bullying in our schools. These next steps will further ensure that all of our students feel safe and respected at school.”
“Respect for All was a huge step forward in our work to ensure that schools are free from harassment and are places where students can focus on learning and growing,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “Building on this strong foundation, we’ve developed an aggressive set of phase two initiatives that will keep New York City at the forefront.”
“A safe and secure learning environment is essential not only to students’ emotional health, but also to their academic success,” said Chancellor Klein. “By expanding training and support to our educators and parent leaders we can be confident that they have the resources to make every school the safe, supportive community our students need and deserve.”
Respect for All requires schools to develop annual plans to convey appropriate standards of behavior to students and staff; to track and monitor all bias incidents; to investigate complaints properly; and to take follow-up steps to ensure that schools maintain safe and respectful learning environments. Last year, the Department of Education added mandated reporting and investigation guidelines to the Respect for All initiative, making New York City a national leader in efforts to combat bullying and harassment based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other factors.
Building on this commitment, this year the City is taking further steps to strengthen the initiative by expanding diversity training among school staff and requiring that more staff attend two-day training sessions. Additionally, for the first time, efforts to combat bullying and harassment will factor into a school’s quality and safety reviews.
Beginning this year:
· All parent coordinators and all school-designated Respect for All liaisons will be required to attend a two-day training session.
· A two-day Respect for All training program will be offered to all elementary school teachers and counselors. Middle and high school staff are already offered such trainings.
· School climate and culture will be added as evaluation criteria in annual Quality Reviews, which factor into principals’ annual performance reviews.
· Respect for All will be included in the school climate and culture section of on-site comprehensive assessments performed by the Office of School and Youth Development
· The Department of Education will offer new guidance and support to principals in developing their annual Respect for All plans.
· Parents will now have the opportunity to review principals’ Respect for All plans.
In order to better support Respect for All plans, schools will now receive a set of guiding principles to ensure that their annual plans are rigorous, comprehensive, and effective. School Support Organizations will also assist schools in drafting their plans and will review them before they are finalized. The Department is also enhancing Respect for All literature to ensure that students know how to report incidents of harassment by school staff as well as their peers. In addition, the Speaker Quinn and the DOE will be seeking federal funding to develop, pilot, and evaluate new staff trainings, as well as private funding to support development and implementation of new student lesson plans.
Additional Support for the Newly Expanded Respect for All:
“If students are too afraid to focus on a test, raise their hand in class, or in some cases even come to school, how can we possibly expect them to succeed?” said Council Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson. “This expansion to Respect for All will go a long way toward helping principals and teachers create the safe and inclusive school environment that every child deserves.”
“There is nothing more heartbreaking for a parent than to see your child harassed based on race, religion, sexual orientation or any other perceived identity,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez. “We in city government need to do everything in our power to prevent bullying and discrimination in our schools, and this initiative makes us a national leader in that fight.”
“The planned expansion and enhancement of the Respect for All program is great news for New York City’s schools,” said Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN. “The proactive commitment to train all instructional personnel is particularly impressive, and the city is to be commended for this investment in providing teachers with the skills necessary to address bias-based bullying and harassment. GLSEN research shows that reduced rates of harassment correlate directly with improved student achievement, and supportive faculty members are a key to students’ sense of belonging at school. GLSEN looks forward to building on its long-standing partnership with the city in support of great schools for all of New York’s students.”
“With our Safe Schools Program, PFLAG NYC is in classrooms with students directly affected by anti-LGBT bias, and we see first hand the damage this kind of harassment can do,” said Drew Tagliabue, Executive Director of PFLAG New York City. “The City Council and the Department of Education have taken great steps to address the problem, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in this effort to strengthen the existing Chancellor’s Regulation.”
“If our students don’t feel safe, all of our efforts to provide a quality education will be wasted,” said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road NY. “Respect for All sets a new standard for tolerance in the classroom, and provides students with a place to turn for help if they are the victim of harassment. And by holding principals accountable, we’ll make sure that these anti-bullying practices get implemented in every neighborhood around the city.”
“These measures to train and educate New York City students, school staff, and parents to recognize and respect the humanity of all people are necessary for a productive and healthy school system, and sorely needed by LGBT youth,” said Marisa Ragonese, Director of Generation Q, LGBT Youth Drop-in Center Queens Community House.