A Community Effort
Poughkeepsie has failed to deliver a high-quality public education, and our Mayors’ traditional hands-off attitude is no longer tolerable. As Mayor, I will support students in bringing an end to our City’s devastating achievement gap. Only 1 in 3 African American students graduate from high school in Poughkeepsie. Less than half Latinx students graduate. Poughkeepsie’s failed education system is significantly responsible for the City having 2X the national poverty rate.
Locals are not being prepared to compete in Poughkeepsie’s billion-dollar economy. Not surprisingly, unemployment rates have risen to 40% among our young people age 25 years old and younger. The same demographic falls prey to violent crime as our youth engage in high risk behavior in the absence of gainful employment opportunities.
A competitive public education is the only way for Poughkeepsie to drop these unemployment rates, increase the earning potential of families and make this city a safer place to live and work.
My plan rebuilds all seven of our public schools from the inside out. The estimated $300-million cost of modernizing all our schools is the same amount Dutchess County planned to spend on expanding Poughkeepsie’s jail. I want to invest in schools, not jails. With the State financing up to 90% of the capital costs of public-school buildings, we must cover the remaining 10% using County, Federal and Private funding.
Cities very similar to ours have done this under effective Mayoral leadership. Our modernized schools will serve as the foundation of a City-wide campus for both recreation and continued learning. My plan takes young people off the street and out of harm’s way as our police tackle the root causes of crime.
But it’s not enough to simply keep young people from the predatory patterns of violence and crime, so my plan forges opportunities for gainful employment. Establishing a formal relationship with the school administration will support the reintroduction of Music and Arts into the K-12 curriculum and into extracurricular activities. The evidence is solid: Music and the Arts are necessary in helping students with diverse abilities to grasp the lessons of the standard curriculum and bridge the achievement gap.
By creating mentorship networks, my aim is to significantly increase individualized attention to student needs both in and out of the classroom. Coupled with hands-on work-study and apprenticeships, my plan will create more competitive college and career ready students.
Partnering with the six local colleges and universities, I have prepared a plan that allows Poughkeepsie students to take better advantage of financial aid leading to a debt-free college education for significantly more students. The average American student is graduating from college $36,500 in debt. That is 94% of Poughkeepsie’s average annual household income. My plan can eliminate that burden for many of our families and students.
Under my plan, local students who have done work-study with our major employers and then go on to graduate from college will have a competitive edge over non-local applicants also seeking entry-level jobs (some starting at $60,000 per year).