About Us


A quality public school is the best chance we have to give each child a shot at the American dream. Yet in New York State - particularly in our poorest communities - countless children are consigned to a life of limited outcomes that might have been different if public education had lived up to its promise.

The failures of public education in the Empire State are fairly straightforward:

  • Students with the greatest challenges at home need the most effective teachers to help them rise above their circumstances, yet the outmoded laws, regulations and union contracts governing New York's schools do nothing to put a premium on teacher quality.

  • Families least able to move into a different neighborhood or afford private education are the most likely to be limited to a single failing school. Obstacles to providing broader school choices are thrown up at every turn by district bureaucracies, politicians and unions.

  • New York State spends more on education, per pupil, than any state in the nation, yet huge sums of money are wasted by almost 700 different school district bureaucracies – and what money does go to the classroom pays for longevity, not success.

The root cause behind these failures is politics: a political conversation dominated by adults, in which students don’t even have a seat at the table. The reality is, that while it’s nice when the interests of bureaucrats, politicians and unions align with the interests of children, very often they do not. And the kids almost always get the short end of the stick.

This dynamic can only begin to change if parents, students, educators and concerned New Yorkers band together to create an activist force that pushes the politicians and policymakers to do what’s right, not what’s easy. That’s why StudentsFirstNY was formed: to be a durable, lasting advocacy organization with no interests other than the students'. It's something that simply does not exist right now in New York.

To create lasting change, we are waging a multi-faceted, unending campaign that will fight day-in, day-out to change the fundamental policies and politics of education in New York.

We will change:

  • Education policies to improve the quality of New York’s public schools, with a focus on improving teacher quality, expanding school options for families and improving the way our school systems are governed and funds are spent. Click here to learn more about the issues critical to improving our schools.

  • The existing, broken and destructive politics of education, in which an entrenched group of special interests drives policymaking in ways that often have nothing to do with what’s good for kids. We will organize parents, students, educators and concerned citizens to demand better for their schools, support leaders who are willing to be bold and stand up for children, and ensure that those who do not are held accountable. Click here to join the movement.

  • The public debate on education, which is too often dominated by those same special interests and their spin machines. Information is power, and we will work every day to inform, educate and engage the public on critical policy debates. Click here to stay up to date.

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