The End Mayoral Control Coalition fully and enthusiastically endorses Assembly Bill A.7924, introduced by Assemblyman Charles Barron, to establish a commission to thoroughly study the ineffectiveness of the New York City mayoral control of education state law. It authorized an entirely undemocratic system of school governance in 2002, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg was given dictatorial control of education in New York City. The current mayor has said he wants permanent undemocratic control.
This bill is an essential first step toward transparently investigating why a 13-year policy of mayoral control has failed to improve the quality of New York City public school education for all students. The commission will show that mayoral control has produced gross racial and class inequities among our public schools in shockingly gross proportions. Also, the commission will recommend the abolition of the current undemocratic mayoral control law and authorize an open exploration for a law that mandates a democratic parent-student-teacher system of school governance.
From our experience, we charge that exclusive mayoral control through a personally handpicked chancellor must be fully exposed for the incompetency it has continually demonstrated. It has mis-educated millions of our students, especially children of color, ELL, immigrant and special-needs students.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has mobilized 45 nonprofit “community” and social service organizations to support his efforts to bring permanent mayoral control to our 1.2 million school-age children. These organizations are desperate for funding and naively hope their endorsement of the mayor’s plan will bring in the needed funds to keep them afloat. They have misread de Blasio as a liberal progressive because of slick PR work. But the real de Blasio is continuing the Bloomberg-Giuliani policies of giving the Wall Streeters and luxury condo developers what they want: a direct political say in defining public education while at the same time syphoning off tens of billions of public school monies in the name of “charter” schools and no-bid contracts.
We understand that mayoral control is (1) undermining the quality of the future of our children by eliminating the child-centered institutions of learning and promoting the racist-fueled and profit-centered privatized policies and structures of “education” institutions; (2) stripping decision-making power from parents, educators, students and community and giving power over to the mayor’s office, his corporate allies, state legislators and the governor; and (3) infringing on the human rights of the students and parents of New York City public schools.
David Dobosz, a retired teacher from Brownsville’s District 23 and a member of the Independent Commission for Public Education, notes, “Public schools in heavily ‘charter schooled’ neighborhoods have become seriously under-resourced buildings that concentrate ever-increasing numbers of high-needs children in over-crowded classes that simply cannot be serviced effectively by a downsized staff and developmentally inappropriate standardized tests. The mayor owns problems like these because only he, not the parents nor the students, teachers or the community, has any real decision-making power to substantially change the numerous adverse in-school circumstances that negatively affect children. These adverse circumstances have only worsened over the years, and we refuse to allow this any longer.”
Brooklyn parent activist and co-chair of the Coalition for Public Education Muba Yarofulani asserts, “The sun setting of mayoral control is this month. As a parent of a child attending a New York City public school, I will fight to see a commission put into place to investigate this 13-year-old failed educational system, which has squandered tens of billions of dollars, and instead, transform it into a democratic people’s Board of Education.”
Instead of continuing mayoral control for any length of time, we must advocate for and fight for the creation of an education system based on human rights that includes democratic participation, equity, nondiscrimination and the full rich human development of us all—a democratic people’s Board of Education. The commission bill Barron has submitted can definitely help us start this democratic process in which parents, teachers, students and community are engaged in creating educational excellence for our children and adults desiring to further their education.
The End Mayoral Control Coalition is supported by many grassroots organizations, chiefly the Coalition for Public Education, the Independent Commission on Public Education, Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence, S.E.E.D.S.(seedswork.org) and others. Each of these organizations advocates for a democratic governance of public education at the community level to provide equal educational opportunity for all students.
For more information, visit www.forpubliced.org and www.forpubliced.blogspot.com.