Council Member Williams is a proud product of Brooklyn’s public school system, from pre-school through his Master’s degree at Brooklyn College. He believes that our public schools are a jewel that needs to be polished in order for every New Yorker to reach their potential.
As a Council Member, Jumaane has funded millions of dollars in improvements to his schools in the 45th District, including enhancements to classroom technology and upgrades to building infrastructure and services. When flooding created problems at IS 285, he raised media attention in order to successfully bring City agencies together and solve the issue. He has also provided for creative programming to local students, including over $100,000 a year through the Cultural After School Arts (CASA) initiative, as well as unique educational opportunities to stimulate cross-cultural dialogue; in April 2013, he brought high school students from Brooklyn College Academy and the Yeshivah of Flatbush together in lower Manhattan to learn about genocide and share their experiences with discrimination. Jumaane is a big supporter of Beacon programs, the Summer Youth Employment Program and other enrichment opportunities for young people, advocating on their behalf as a member of the Council’s Committee on Youth Services and making his yearly vote on the City budget contingent on their funding.
Jumaane has been an opponent of mayoral control of schools, citing the lack of parent involvement and the failure in closing the achievement gap for students of more color and those with disabilities. He understands the importance of these issues intimately, having been a student with Tourette’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who had the support of family and teachers in order to succeed. Going forward, he believes a municipal model, which would incorporate greater oversight from the City Council, would be more effective in addressing local concerns and increasing accountability. Jumaane feels the charter school system, intended to be a laboratory for innovation to bring to public schools, has thus far been misused and is opposed to the forced school co-location and closure policy that has dominated the last decade. Locally, he has successfully fought back against a proposed co-location at IS 240 and is working with parents, students and teachers on a similar effort at the Tilden Educational Campus. Jumaane has also been an active supporter of his local parochial schools, helping to rally support to save institutions like Nazareth Regional High School from closure.
Additionally, Jumaane is an advocate for reducing class sizes and the impact of testing in the classroom. He believes that specialized high schools, such as the one he attended at Brooklyn Tech, should find a solution that fully and fairly assesses every applicant’s abilities in order to ensure fairness. He has fought for ample resources at his local libraries, including successfully lobbying to have full-service trailers provided to the community during the renovation of Rugby Library, which he funded. Jumaane has also been particularly attentive to the needs of his alma mater Brooklyn College and the rest of the City University of New York system, supporting increased funding as a member of the Council’s Committee on Higher Education.