Over 100 Public School Parents Rally in Albany to Demand Extension of Mayoral Accountability in New York City Schools

By StudentsFirstNY | April 16, 2024

NEW YORK–StudentsFirstNY today joined legislators and over 100 public school parents to rally in the Capitol for an extension of mayoral accountability of New York City schools. Parents from across the city spoke movingly about the increased role their voices play in decision making under the current system, and urged Albany not to take schools back to the failed policies of the School Board era.

Early this month, StudentsFirst announced a seven-figure public campaign to encourage Albany to extend mayoral accountability this year. The group will run ads, mobilize concerned parents at rallies like today’s, and talk directly with elected officials to demand an extension of the current system. You can watch StudentsFirstNY’s first ad here.

“Mayoral accountability has produced higher test scores, more resources, and better governance than the catastrophic School Board era ever did. Today, parents sent Albany a message they couldn’t ignore: it’s time to extend it and stop playing political games with students’ futures,” said StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Crystal McQueen-Taylor.

In March, StudentsFirstNY released “Dysfunction Junction: A History of NYC Schools Before Mayoral Accountability,” a landmark report outlining the history of New York City’s failed experiment with decentralized leadership of its schools. That experiment – which began in 1969 and ended in 2002 – saw corruption and incompetence flourish under the Board of Education’s leadership. It delivered a system where no single person could be held accountable for failures in public schools.

Decentralized leadership created a slide in student performance that was arrested when mayoral accountability, also known as mayoral control, was restored under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The end of this experiment created bottom-line accountability in New York City’s public schools, and allowed mayors and chancellors to take direct responsibility for improving performance – instead of 32 separate, uncoordinated entities. Mayoral accountability is set to expire this June.

“I know from my own experience that the School Board era did not benefit the New York City public school system, which is why I support a four-year extension of mayoral control. Mayoral accountability has led to improved student performance, and it’s irresponsible to replace it with a return to a failed system,” said Assembly Member Yudelka Tapia.

“I am excited to express my strong support for the continuation of mayoral control of the New York City Public Schools. This governance structure has proven to be effective in streamlining decision-making processes, fostering accountability, and ensuring that the needs of students, parents, and educators are prioritized. Under mayoral control, there has been notable progress in improving graduation rates, expanding access to quality education, and implementing innovative initiatives to address the diverse needs of students across the city,” said Assembly Member Nikki Lucas.

“Mayoral accountability has been good for New York City’s public schools. It has given parents a direct voice in their children’s education, and it has been far more effective than the disastrous experiment we tried with decentralized leadership. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting a clean extension this session,” said Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs.

“I am pleased that budget talks now include an extension of Mayoral Control of New York City Schools. Mayoral Control has been the policy for over 20 years, replacing a failed decentralized system and leading to successful results. Under Mayor Adams’ leadership of the schools, reading and writing scores are outpacing the State. Mayor Adams implemented a visionary reading program and a first-in-the-nation dyslexia screening program. I commend Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins for supporting Mayoral Control and putting the kids of our City above politics,” said Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar.

StudentsFirstNY is a grassroots education advocacy organization dedicated to improving public school options throughout New York State.