Mayoral Control = More Accountability

My New York State Senate Mayoral Control Hearings Testimony

Tenicka Boyd, StudentsFirstNY Senior Director of Organizing

Good afternoon. My name is Tenicka Boyd and I am the Senior Director of Organizing for StudentsFirstNY and a New York City public school parent in Brooklyn.

First off, I want thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify about mayoral control..

My bottom line is: Mayor de Blasio wants control of the schools without any of the scrutiny. New York City public schools are not good enough and the Mayor must be held accountable. You have a copy of my testimony, but I wanted to summarize it and then give you some insight into the parent experience.

Mayor de Blasio wants control of the schools without any of the scrutiny. New York City public schools are not good enough and the Mayor must be held accountable.

We have noticed seven main problems with the Mayor’s management of the school system:

1. The Mayor has unclear goals with deadlines set for long after he will be out of office. He says all children will read by 2026. Parents want to know what improvements Mayor de Blasio will make while he’s still mayor.

2. There are too many failure factories in low-income neighborhoods. For example, Herbert Lehman High School in the Bronx has 1,535 students enrolled and of the 40 percent of students who graduate in four years, just 11 percent are college or career ready. Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx has 2,109 students enrolled and of the 46 percent of students who graduate in four years, just 19 percent are college or career ready. These schools are not preparing 93% of their students for college and career. These are just a few examples of the failure factories that our children are subjected to.

3. NYC high school diplomas don’t mean students are ready for college. 8 out of 10 kids who graduate aren’t actually ready for college. Mayor de Blasio touts his increase graduation rate, but that means nothing if the children graduating are not prepared for life.

4. Instructional time has been cut by 2.5 hours per week. Parents want to know what the City is doing to make up this lost instruction time for our most vulnerable students.

5. The Mayor ignores solutions that work. Parents want the Mayor to put aside his narrow political agenda because there is clear evidence that school choice improves educational outcomes for kids.

6. The lowest performing schools are not getting better. The Mayor’s Renewal Schools still have a 93% failure rate.

7. Accountability is non-existent. The Mayor gutted the School Quality Reports so you now have schools with fewer than 10% of students passing tests that are rated as “meeting” standards.

There is an educational crisis in this city and parents are fed up with Mayor de Blasio’s inaction.

Arlene Rosado and other parent advocates gather outside the New York Senate hearing on mayoral control to demand accountability from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The system is failing Nakeia Porter, a mother of a second grader in P.S. 305 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a school in the mayor’s Renewal School program. Her son is a year away from taking the state math and reading tests, but she’s concerned he won’t be properly prepared. That’s because just 3% of students in his school passed the state tests last year. 3%! Mayor de Blasio says he plans to turnaround this school, but how long can parents like Nakeia Porter wait?

The system is failing Camille Artemus, a mother who has sent her daughter to three different elementary schools in the hopes of finding one that was good enough for her daughter. None of them have been. Camille’s daughter’s current school has teacher vacancies, which she’s concerned will be filled with an ineffective teacher from the ATR pool. That’s where the City has more than 1,000 teachers who aren’t in classrooms but are still costing taxpayers more than $100 million a year. Camille sent a letter to the Mayor about her concerns a month ago and never heard back.

Nakeia and Camille’s stories are sadly not unique. They are the rule and not the exception in New York City public schools.

And as you decide whether to extend mayoral control, consider this: The responsibility of the mayor’s office to oversee the New York City school system was never meant to go unchecked. If anything mayoral control should be about more accountability, not less.

It is unrealistic for you give any mayor a rubber stamp on mayoral control, especially one who has achieved such little progress since he took office two and a half years ago.

Thank you.

Tenicka Boyd, a public school parent in New York City, is Senior Director of Organizing at StudentsFirstNY.

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