News and Speeches

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Elected Officials Kick Off Respect For All Week

24 Schools are Each Recognized as a “Respect For All School” After Exemplary Work Promoting Respect for Diversity

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today congratulated students and staff at 24 schools for implementing programs during the last school year that embraced diversity and differences in others during the kick-off for the Department of Education’s third-annual Respect For All Week, which runs from February 13 – 17. The 24 schools were named recipients of the “Respect For All” Award, the first award of its kind. The Department of Education (DOE) created the award in consultation with the City Council to highlight the importance of respecting others as part of the City’s efforts to combat bullying and harassment. Respect For All Week is designed to focus all City public schools on the importance of promoting respect for diversity and fostering inclusive learning environments for all students.

Respect For All is a major initiative in the DOE’s effort to combat bullying and harassment based on ethnicity, color, national origin, race, religion, citizenship or immigration status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, weight, disability, and other characteristics. The Chancellor and Speaker congratulated all the winning schools at a press conference at Baruch College Campus High School in Manhattan, one of the winners. The Chancellor and the Speaker were joined by United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest A. Logan, City Council Education Committee Chairman Robert Jackson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Council Member Rosie Mendez, Baruch College Campus High School Principal Alicia Perez-Katz, representatives from the 24 winning schools and community partners who collaborated with the DOE in developing the Respect For All initiative.

“Our schools are rich in diversity and we are celebrating this richness during Respect For All Week,” Chancellor Walcott said. “Students and staff will be showcasing programs they are participating in about the importance of respecting people and embracing the differences in all of us. Congratulations to all the students and staff at the schools that won awards today. I want to thank Speaker Quinn, UFT President Mulgrew, CSA President Logan and our partners for their continued support of this initiative.”

“We have a responsibility to provide every student in New York City with a safe and inclusive learning environment,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Teaching our students to embrace diversity is essential to preventing hate among future generations. Furthermore, research has linked positive school climates with academic gains. For the past three years, we’ve been working with principals, advocates, and members of the community to expand our Respect for All program. This week is a time to celebrate year-long efforts to make this subject matter part of our school culture. I am also pleased that today we are recognizing specific schools that have taken the lead on RFA and exemplify what should be done. RFA is a great example of an education policy that shows everything we can accomplish as a community when we all agree to work together towards the same goals: making sure our kids have access to a great education.”

Respect For All Week is designed to focus each school’s attention on sustaining safe, supportive, and inclusive environments, providing an opportunity to highlight and build upon their existing efforts to promote respect for diversity and prevent bias-based harassment and bullying. To support schools in this important work, the DOE’s Office of School and Youth Development has made many resources available to principals and school staff members—including sample lesson plans and connections to community organizations that offer programs and free curricular resources supporting the goals of Respect For All. The Department also provided principals with suggested activities to guide their Respect For All Week planning and will continue expanding the availability of such resources to support implementation of those programs throughout the school year.

This push to strengthen and encourage anti-bullying programs in schools across the City is part of an extensive joint outreach effort between the Department, City Council, the UFT, CSA, and community-based organizations. Joint letters from Chancellor Walcott, Speaker Quinn, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, CSA President Ernest A. Logan and City Council Education Chairman Robert Jackson were distributed to principals, teachers and parents across the City. Many community-based organizations have reached out to schools to strengthen existing partnerships and develop new relationships that will have a positive impact lasting far beyond Respect For All Week.

“The UFT is happy to be part of the Respect For All coalition, and to be working hard on this issue,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “To help schools and communities deal with this problem, we have launched our BRAVE Campaign against bullying, and why we are sponsoring our first ever Anti-Bullying Fair on March 1st at UFT Headquarters.”

“When people, of all ages and backgrounds, are respected, they feel valued,” Ernest A. Logan, President of the Council for School Supervisors and Administrators, said. “If we continue to allow circumstances in which bullying can flourish, we tacitly condone disrespectful behavior. We cannot allow ourselves to look the other way when it comes to any form of bullying.”

“Bullying and harassment continue to be serious issues for our students everyday,” said Council member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee. “Respect For All Week is a valuable opportunity for students, educators and administrators to all focus on this critical issue. This is a time to explore and establish ways to deal with conflict, prevent bullying and harassment and intervene when they see it – in person or online.”

“As technology plays an increasing role in children’s lives, bullying on the playground has evolved into bullying online, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said. “My Office works to combat this harmful and pervasive problem by regularly hosting presentations to educate the public on the dangers of cyberbullying, as well as teach them how to detect and prevent it. Next week, a team of Assistant District Attorneys and members of my staff will be traveling around the borough to give talks and seminars on cyberbullying as part of Respect for All Week. I will also be delivering presentations to students at two Manhattan schools on Wednesday. I would like to commend Speaker Quinn and the DOE for implementing this important initiative, and I would encourage anyone interested in setting up a cyberbullying presentation at their group or school to contact my Office’s Community Affairs Unit at 212-335-9082.”

“Our schools are critical training grounds for educating students about how to identify and confront discrimination, intolerance, and bullying,” Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer said. “We must always strive to create school climates that make our students feel safe and supported. “Respect For All” week opens up important opportunities for students to engage in critical dialogue about diversity, and to understand its value.”

“We can no longer ignore the fact that harassment and bullying have become serious and dangerous problems within our school systems,” State Senator Liz Krueger said. “Programs like the Respect For All initiative are a key part of making our schools the welcoming, constructive environments they should be for each and every student.”

“As New Yorkers and as Americans, we must continually renew our commitment to tolerance, inclusion, and mutual respect,” Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh said. “Living up to this commitment includes giving students in our schools the tools and the understanding needed to celebrate both our differences and our common humanity. Respect For All Week is a great way to focus on these issues and ensure that mutual respect is the norm throughout the year.”

This year, for the first time, schools were asked to apply for an award that recognizes the success in implementing programs that embrace diversity and respect. Schools were asked to indicate programs they implemented in the 2010-11 school year, how they engaged students and what process they used to create their Respect For All Plans. The winning schools are:

Baruch College Campus HS
PS /MS 28, Manhattan
PS 69, Bronx
PS 86, Bronx
PS/MS 498, Bronx
Brooklyn International HS
PS 380, Brooklyn
PS 249, Brooklyn
PS 686, Brooklyn
PS 119, Brooklyn
PS 107, Queens
PS 209, Queens
MS 74, Queens
PS 186, Queens
PS 66, Queens
PS 90, Queens
PS 155, Queens
PS 95, Queens
P177, Queens
PS 29, Staten Island
PS 53, Staten Island
Concord HS, Staten Island
Staten Island Tech HS
PS 861, Staten Island

The schools succeeded in offering programs that celebrated diversity and respect among the students. For example, Concord High School’s media arts class created a short video on race and religious discrimination that was entered and shown at the Staten Island Film Festival. At P.S. 380 in Brooklyn, students selected notable quotations that focused on a positive character trait and read the quotation over the public address system. The quotations were posted in the hallways to foster awareness and discussion on responsibility, trust worthiness, fairness, respect, good citizenship and caring. At Brooklyn International High School, students trained to be peer educators through the A World of Difference program, and conducted student and parent workshops to promote respect for diversity.

At Baruch College Campus High School, students created a group called the Students Quest to Unite and Appreciate Diversity which continues to meet regularly with a guidance counselor to spearhead events that promote respect and offer student-led workshops. Last year, the students also donated 30 boxes of books, written by African-Americans, to schools in Africa, volunteered their time in the library at the School for the Deaf and at a soup kitchen and senior citizen center.

“Our students and staff have a camaraderie based on respect and trust that has been part of the school environment for many years,” said Baruch College Campus High School Principal Alicia Perez-Katz. “From ninth grade on, we have programs that engage students in social awareness, whether it is part of a classroom discussion on civil rights or part of community service work at a soup kitchen, for example. Respect For All is embedded in our curriculum and in our lives outside of school as well.”

“We have trained more than 6,500 staff members in the Respect For All who have help us promote diversity throughout our schools to ensure a safe learning environment,” Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said. “We continue to train new staff members every year as we teach our students the importance of embracing the differences in others.”

“Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility congratulates all the teachers, students, parents and school leaders throughout New York City’s public schools who are marking this year’s Respect for All Week – and who work to make every week Respect For All Week” said Tom Roderick, the Center’s Executive Director. “By helping young people develop their capacity to empathize with others, see our diversity as an asset, and stand up to bias and bullying, we create a caring and respectful school environment that encourages learning. We need to ensure that all our young people learn the skills and develop the strength they need to stand up for themselves and others. By stepping forward as allies to those who are targeted, young people learn that what they do really matters—at school, at home, and in the world. We applaud our partners at the NYC Department of Education who have worked for decades to foster respect for all.”

“PFLAG NYC is pleased that our Safe Schools Program can again be a partner with the Department of Education and the City Council on Respect For All Week in New York City public schools,” said Drew Taliabue, Executive Director of the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays NYC. “Respect For All Week is an important tool to bring focus to the constant work of making schools safe and welcoming to all students every single day of the year. We are glad for the opportunity to talk during the week about the one-third of families that have a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender family member and how intolerance and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity hurts everyone in the school community.”

“The Anti-Defamation League is proud to support the NYC Department of Education and the City Council’s 2012 Respect For All Week,” said Ron Meier, New York Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. “As the ADL approaches its 100th year of addressing bias and discrimination, the support of the DOE and the City Council is invaluable in our efforts to educate students, educators, and families about the impact of language and the importance of respect, especially in terms of bullying and cyberbullying. To show our appreciation for this initiative, we will provide our Step Up! Assembly to five NYC middle schools during Respect For All Week. Step Up! is designed to give a voice to the targets of bullying and prejudice while inspiring bystanders to become allies, two important goals on the journey to Respect For All.”

“Facing History and Ourselves is proud to have participated in past Respect For All Weeks and is excited to see this tradition become a fixture on the NYC educational calendar,” said Peter Nelson, Director of the New York City Office of Facing History and Ourselves. “The week is a motivator for many and a reminder for all that NYC and New York State are committed to safe and healthy environments in our schools, the kind of environment that is critical to student success. It also just happens to represent a moral imperative.”

“Respect For All Week represents the vital and extraordinary work that schools are doing all year long to raise awareness, build community, and to make sure that every child in every school feels and is safe,” said Mark Weiss, Education Director of Operation Respect. “There is no more important work because it is the foundation for our achieving the academic success we want for every student. We are deeply proud to be part of this effort.”