StudentsFirstNY Launches Seven-Figure Campaign to Extend Mayoral Accountability in New York City Schools

NEW YORK–Amid reckless, dire threats to school governance from Albany politicians, StudentsFirstNY today announced a seven-figure campaign to extend mayoral accountability in New York City’s public schools. The group will run ads, mobilize concerned parents, and talk directly with elected officials for the rest of this year’s legislative session to demand a four-year extension of the current system. You can watch StudentsFirstNY’s first ad here

Last week, StudentsFirstNY released “Dysfunction Junction: A History of NYC Schools Before Mayoral Accountability.” The landmark report outlined the history of New York City’s failed experiment with decentralized leadership of its schools - a failure that Albany’s inaction risks revisiting upon New York City’s public school students.

“Albany is sleepwalking into a disaster for over one million New York City students. We’re going to wake them up,” said Crystal McQueen-Taylor, Executive Director of StudentsFirstNY. “Mayoral accountability has produced higher test scores, more resources, and better governance than the catastrophic School Board era ever did. Albany should extend it - not play political games with students’ futures.”

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.

Full text of StudentsFirstNY’s first ad is below:

Albany’s meddling with New York City public schools - again. 

Opening the door to bring back a corrupt system that was rotten to its core.

Known gang members and drug dealers worked as school safety officers.

Dysfunction, chaos, and corruption plagued city schools.

Now, they’re threatening to do it again.

Without mayoral control, fraud, waste and bribery ran rampant.

Don’t let our kids pay the price…again.

Tell Albany: keep Mayoral control of our city’s public schools.

Other experts and advocates have joined StudentsFirstNY’s calls for mayoral accountability, including:

“For more than two decades, the New York City public school system has been managed under a system of mayoral accountability, which has proven far more effective than the highly politicized and nepotism-driven governance systems of the past. Employers are more engaged than ever with supporting the schools and helping prepare students for college and careers. Ending or diluting the mayor’s responsibility for the schools would undermine employer confidence in the system,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for New York City.

“Mayoral accountability works. For decades, it’s been the formula for innovation and for improving outcomes for every community across New York City. Especially now, as students are still grappling with learning loss from the pandemic, our public schools and our parents deserve to know who is in charge and who to hold accountable for their children’s education. We need leaders in Albany to get down to business and renew Mayoral Accountability,” said Steven Rubenstein, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York (ABNY).

“Mayoral accountability has delivered the positive results that New York City school children and their families deserve,” said REBNY President Jim Whelan. “Now is not the time to turn back the clock to an old approach that put chaos, patronage and politics ahead of educational success.”

"As a native New Yorker who attended public schools here, the son of a public-school teacher and a former Deputy Mayor who worked closely with the public school system, I know first-hand how important it is to have a school system that is responsive and accountable to students, parents, and taxpayers. Continuing mayoral management of the City's schools ensures that innovations and performance-enhancing initiatives, like NYC Reads and Next Generation Community Schools, continue to change the learning trajectories of students across all districts," said Richard R. Buery, Jr., CEO of Robin Hood.  "I had the opportunity to lead PreK For All, which now offers free PreK to all four-year-olds, under Mayor de Blasio.  Launching PreK required clear leadership from the Mayor and extensive coordination between the public schools and dozens of city agencies. I can assure you that none of that would have been possible without clear and direct mayoral management of the school system. We have too much work to do to turn back.  Mayoral accountability is essential to the success of New York City’s schools, and I urge the Legislature and Governor to preserve it.”

“Students achieve more when City Hall and Chancellor are held directly accountable for their performance. Now more than ever, Albany should rely on best practices, extend mayoral accountability, and give the next generation of students the chance they deserve to succeed,” said former Chancellor Joel Klein.

"It is critical for the Mayor of New York City to be accountable for the success of our nation's largest school system. Moving backward to a system of fractured governance would make systemic improvement nearly impossible," said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and CEO of Educators for Excellence. "As a former NYC Public School Teacher and the leader of an organization that represents over 14,000 NYC educators, I have seen firsthand the improvements in NYC that have only been made possible because Mayors are held accountable for the system's success. Currently, NYC is in the midst of a major and long overdue overhaul of how reading is taught through NYC Reads. A shift on the scale of this program wouldn't be possible in a different system of school governance. At a time when students are just beginning to recover from the impact of the pandemic, we need more initiatives like NYC Reads, and we need to continue to hold the most powerful person in NYC responsible for the success of our students and the support of our educators."


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


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  • Michael Frisch

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