Wednesday, September 2, 2020



  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, I just want everyone, first, take a moment to look at this floor in front of you, the extraordinary shine on this floor. And if you went around the building with us, you saw absolutely beautiful classrooms, not only just clean, like extraordinarily clean, lively, colorful, energetic classrooms. Richard and I have spent a long time going through classrooms in our careers, and immediately I could see the glow in Richard's face that this is exactly what we want to see all over the city. Now, we're here in Bed-Stuy and it's a community that often hasn't gotten its fair share. But in this school, as the principal’s made clear, this is equality and fairness in action in this school. The children getting the very, very best available in public education in this whole city, in this whole country. You're not going to find better examples of what a school should look like and should offer than what you saw on this tour.

So, tremendous congratulations to everyone in the school community for what you have created here. Our principal, Dr. Cherry-Ann Joseph-Hislop, you are a force of nature, let me tell you. I'm amazed, as you're telling all the things that you've achieved, all the grants you've won, all the support you brought in, all the programs you've created for the children in this school, you are a difference maker and I want to commend you for that. I can tell that your energy is fueling this whole reality here at P. S. 59. And we're here because we're all getting ready for school. And we want to show you the on-the-ground reality, the people who are doing the work every day, the boots on the ground in our schools every day, getting ready for our kids to come back. And it's an extraordinary group of professionals who are really committed to this work. You can see it. You can literally see all around you, how much work has been done already well before school begins.


Now, I want to thank the labor leaders who are present. You're going to hear from one of them in a moment, but I want to thank all of them, including Shirley Aldebol, the Vice President and New York City Schools Director for 32BJ SEIU. I want to thank Ray Macco, the Assistant Business Manager for Local 94; Sean Francois, the President of Local 372 DC37 AFSCME – all of these unions play a crucial role. Their members play a crucial role in our schools and it's one school community where everyone helps each other out to make things come together for our kids. And your members – I want to just personally thank all of you – your members are doing an extraordinary job, getting things ready. I also want to say that we've had a lot of support for our public schools from our elected officials. And one elected official, I can say from personal experience, she played a pivotal role last year when we were discussing the future of mayoral accountability for education and the things that we needed to more deeply ensure the voices of parents were heard and continues to be a champion for public education in Albany, Assembly Member Tremaine Wright. Thank you so much. Appreciate, so much, all you are doing.


So, everyone, look, we made a major announcement yesterday. Everyone knows that. And that announcement was a symbol of the common vision that we have with our labor community in the schools that we have with the people of the city, bringing our schools back in a manner that’s healthy and safe for all our kids. But when you listen to the principal, she makes very clear why it matters. The kids who need to experience all this love and support from educators and from adults. Our guidance counselor, where are you? You were here a moment ago? She – there you go – was telling me about, they take college visits, under normal times, obviously, college visits for fifth graders in this school. And then they put up the pennants from the colleges on the walls to remind children of what they can and will aspire to. This is a very supportive community. And if a child comes in here in need, if a child needs emotional support, mental health services, physical health support, if a child needs nutrition, if a child needs counseling, if a child has a problem at home and they need an adult they can turn to, this is where it happens. Let alone the extraordinary educational opportunities here. If you look at all the specialized educational opportunities in this one school, the STEM programs, the dance, all the pieces that are meant to inspire kids and energize them and get them committed to their education – this cannot be achieved the same way outside the school building. I am certain this school did a remarkable job with remote learning and will continue to, when kids are learning remote. But you cannot achieve so much as what happens inside this school building. You cannot achieve the magic that happens here, any place but inside this building with these extraordinary professionals.


So, that's what we're going to continue to do. And, you saw, I think, as you walked around, the electrostatic cleaning is happening, the personal protective equipment is in place, the hand sanitizer, the social distancing – by the way, for all of you who were in the classrooms, you saw classrooms outfitted for nine kids that normally have as many as 24 kids. So, the social distancing is there, all of the ways of protecting, layer upon layer of health and safety measures, again, the highest standard in the world here in New York City. Now one outstanding issue for this school for P. S. 59, P. S. 59, like many schools, very enthusiastically heard the Chancellor's announcement on outdoor learning, it is a very clear indicator that schools were ready because hundreds and hundreds of applications came in within days. One of them from P. S. 59. Principal, I'm happy to report, your application for outdoor learning is approved. So, you can go ahead with that. I wanted to come over here personally and tell you. And so, with that, the man who is leading this extraordinary effort, surpassing every other city in the nation to get our schools ready for all our kids, our Chancellor, Richard Carranza.


Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza: So, thank you, Mr. Mayor. I appreciate the fact that you are here with us, here at P. S. 59. There's something that you often say that I don't think people hear often enough and you often comment when we visit schools, if the school was good enough for me to send my child to then it's good enough for New Yorkers to send their children to. This is definitely a school that I would enthusiastically send my children, if they were younger, to. So, I want to congratulate Dr. Hislop for the great work that she's done. Her vision is obvious in this building. But I also want to thank our Assistant Principal, Zachary Mack, for his work as well. You make a dynamic team, the both of you, so I just want to congratulate you on that.


As we visit schools and you see the level of detail in terms of not only the cleanliness, but the focus on the academic program, and as we heard Dr. Hislop talk about how they work and they worked since March, but how they continue to work teachers, the administrators, counselors, support staff, at making sure that the students that come to P. S. 59 don't ever think about their ZIP code, but that they experience the education that is happening within their ZIP code. I love that because that's what education is all about. So, I want to thank you for what you showed us. I think it's incredibly powerful. It does take a village and I can tell you that you can feel the village at work right here at P. S. 59. 

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