Parents Call on Governor Hochul To Veto Legislation Containing Extreme Changes and Unfunded Mandates for the City
The New York State Legislature's "Mayoral Control" bill (A10499/S09459), introduced on Monday during Memorial Day weekend is an insult to New York City parents and is potentially harmful to our children. The Legislature waited until the last minute to introduce this bill, proposed legislation that will drastically change the operations of the City's Department of Education, the composition of the Panel for Educational Policy while creating potential policy gridlock through the erosion of Mayoral Control.
Codifying class size caps in State law is an extreme step and unfair to Mayor Adams' administration and Schools Chancellor David Banks. First and foremost, there is no guaranteed funding in New York State's budget to address any budget increases resulting from the legislation. In addition, at a time when the school system continues to adjust in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not make sense to make drastic changes through unfunded mandates. The City's schools are experiencing reduced enrollment, resulting in fewer funds, while simultaneously experiencing a shortage of teachers. Finally, while the efficacy of reduced class size continues to be debated, it is clear that other current and future programs may be sacrificed to meet the unfunded mandate. These programs have been proven to positively impact learning outcomes, particularly in communities with the greatest needs.
The legislation also disregards parent concerns regarding representation on the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), the school system's governing body. Specifically, the inclusion of high school parents through the Citywide Council on High School (CCHS) was ignored. The CCHS should have a PEP appointee, and that change was not made. Furthermore, the establishment of a new voting system for the selection of Borough representatives on the Panel for Educational Policy is flawed, undemocratic and, in fact, counter-productive. All public school parents with children attending schools in the borough should be able to vote for their Borough representatives, not just the Council Presidents. The true inclusion of parent voices in the education process means that the full diversity of perspectives should be a reality in the selection of Borough representatives. Such diversity cannot be achieved if only 32 Council Presidents are involved in the selection process. Opening the voting to all public school parents encourages real participation. Limiting the voting to Presidents encourages political games.
In reality, giving Mayor Eric Adams two years of Mayoral Control while handcuffing him with a large and potentially unwieldy 23-member Panel for Educational Policy undermines the concept of "Mayoral Control" and, therefore, the ability of Schools Chancellor David Banks to improve the educational outcomes of students. If the Legislature wishes to end Mayoral Control, then we challenge the members to generate a better plan for school governance and phase in that plan over an appropriate period of time. Chipping away the authority of the Mayor and Chancellor is unfair to all education stakeholders and reflects the dominance of politics over policy.
The New York State legislature did not make these extreme changes during the Bloomberg and de Blasio tenures when a super-majority of students were not performing academically at grade level. The Legislature did not take such drastic action all the years that so many students were not graduating. Mayor Adams and Chancellor David Banks, both Black graduates of the New York City public schools, deserve the same respect and opportunity to implement their vision and changes to the public education system. They understand the daily challenges faced by our students and their families. They should be granted not two but three years of Mayoral Control without any extreme changes and with the time to weigh any proposed changes appropriately – through pilot programs and the generation of relevant data.
We urge Governor Kathy Hochul to reject and veto this legislation and protect the interests of our children.
Signers in formation:
Founder, Harlem Mothers SAVE
Courtney A. Bennett
Executive Director, One Hundred Black Men
President, Asian Wave Alliance
Rudy Coombs Co-Founder, One Hundred Black Men
Co-Founder, Eagle Academy Mona Davids President, NYC Parents Union Founding Member, NYC School Safety Coalition
Aldrin K. Enis President, One Hundred Black Men of New York
Shabir Gul President, Bronx Community Council Co-Founder, Muslim and Immigrant Coalition for Justice Mohammed Mardah Chairman, African Advisory Council of the Bronx Borough President’s Office
Vice President, NYC Parents Union
PLACE NYC Queens Parents United Quiann Simpkins Founding Member, NYC School Safety Coalition
Craig L. Slutzkin
Co-President, Townsend Harris High School Alumni Association
Mazeda A. Uddin
Founder, South Asian Fund For Education Scholarship and Training Inc
President, Chinese American Citizens Alliance Greater New York
Neighborhood Advisory Board
Donghui Zang President, New York City Residents Alliance
Community Education Council Members and Parent Leaders Zhaniya Adilova CECD1 member Elena Aminova Adriana Aviles Recording Secretary, CEC26 Francisco Brugueras Parent Maria Brugeras CEC 20 Dennis Chan Concerned parent Yi Fang Chen, Parent PS102 Jean Hahn PS 174 SLT Warren Heckstall, P.M. P.H. FAM
Connie Bao-Hsu Alfred De Ingeniis CEC15 Member Debbie Kross CCHS Chien Kwok PLACE NYC and CEC D2 Vito J LaBella Parent Elected Representative CEC 20 PLACE NYC Co-Founder Vincent Lu CEC15 Member Benjamin Morden NYC Public School Parent & President CECD2 (signed as parent) Stephen Stowe President, Community Education Council - District 20 Al Suhu President, Community Education Council Karen Wang President and Manhattan Rep, Citywide Council of High Schools Xiaoqiong Xie CEC 20 council member
Effi Zakry CCHS - VP and Queens Rep Kevin Zhao CEC20