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MS 50 Debate Team Debates at City Hall!

MS 50 Debate Team Debates at City Hall!

Kings County Politics, By S. Rodriguez, May 21, 2019

City Council Members Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Williamsburg, Greenpoint), yesterday, joined parents, students and facility members of John D. Wells MS 50 on the steps of City Hall to urge Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Richard Carranza to continue funding Extended Learning Time (ELT) in designated community schools throughout New York City.

ELT is used to create robust, additional learning and enrichment opportunities for students either throughout the school day or as part of an after school program. The program has been a part of John D. Wells’ middle school for the past four years and they use the funding to extend their school day until 4 p.m.

Reynoso, who attended MS 50, 183 South 3rd Street in Williamsburg, spoke about the importance ELT plays in community schools.

“For a long time the school was struggling. We were losing students, the grades and the performance wasn’t there and then De Blasio decided that we were going to do something and invest in our schools. We applauded him for that and in doing so we saw a complete turnaround in junior high school 50,” said Reynoso. “Increasing the enrollment, increasing the performance, expanding services to these kids that they would have never seen in any other school without the support of the renewal school program.”

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso used to attend MS 50, and decried the budget cuts. Photo by S. Rodriguez

Before ELT was adopted into MS 50, the school was struggling with keeping students grades and enrollment up, but because of the renewal program the school bounced back and now even has a nationally recognized debate team. So in early May when schools were notified that ELT funding would not be renewed in the 2020 financial year budget the news came as a huge loss to students, parents, faculty members and even the chair of the education committee, said Treyger.

Treyger explained how during last year’s hearing on renewal schools the Mayor’s administration and the DOE promised no cuts will be made to renewal schools or rise schools. “Mr. Mayor, Mr. Chancellor you are breaking a promise to our children. We will not let this pass,” said Treyger.

“Mr. Mayor, I remember your rhetoric last year, you said schools, not jails. Well in this budget we’re seeing no increase in school funding, proposed cuts to schools, but billions in operationalizing jails. That is not going to fly with this New York City Council. Do not cut one dime to extended learning time,” he added.

DOE Spokesperson Doug Cohen provided KCP with a statement via email about the cut to ELT. “We’re committed to making the best decisions for kids despite a difficult budget climate, and we were able to preserve 100 percent Fair Student Funding and full Community Schools partnerships at our Renewal and Rise Schools,” said Cohen. 

“Students at Renewal and Rise schools will continue to have learning opportunities outside of the regular school days, and we’re also working individually with schools that want to offer additional extended learning time,” he added.

The DOE has been planning to phase out the “Renewal Hour” over the course of two years and accelerated the phase-out due to the budget climate. According to the DOE, the “Renewal Hour” is about ten percent of the overall renewal budget.

About The New York City Urban Debate League

Our mission is that every school should have a debate team and every student should have the opportunity to the best debate education opportunities. One of the most critical problems in education today is the academic and civic achievement gaps. Our solution is to provide the best college, career, civic, communication and community opportunities through year round academic debate. Each month we work with thousands of students and hundreds of schools. We support debate practices every day, debate centers every week, tournaments every weekend, workshops every month, debate camps all summer, and year round support for any student and teacher. We are one of the the city’s most award winning curricular and extracurricular programs. We have received awards from the White House, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Presidential Commission on the Arts and Humanities, National Institute for Museum and Library Services, The Social Index of Top 100 Nonprofits, BoardSource, Points of Light’s Civic Accelerator, Teach for America, and by the First Lady as “one of the top arts and humanities based programs in the country.” Why Debate? Debate teaches every academic skill and every academic subject. A Great Debater means a person who has the skills and confidence to lead, to speak up, to argue, to question, to read and write to right the wrongs, to know about the world around you, and to change the world around you.

The New York City Urban Debate League
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