In her executive budget, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed extending mayoral control in New York City for four more years with no mention of the need for changes. But we shouldn’t miss this opportunity to fix the problems.
The last 20 years have shown what happens when mayors ignore other voices. Mayor Michael Bloomberg summarily shuttered schools he declared “failing” without consulting with parents and community members. He wedged charter schools into public school buildings without meaningful input from the communities that would be affected by the loss of space. And his unilateral decision to make all admissions to the gifted-and-talented program hinge on a single multiple-choice test for 4-year-olds has resulted in one of the most segregated programs in the country.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s education initiatives, while not as detrimental as his predecessor’s, were also undermined by a failure to consult all stakeholders.
To restore the necessary checks and balances to school governance, we recommend adding two parent members, elected by the presidents of the Community Education Councils, to the Panel for Educational Policy so the mayor does not automatically control the majority of the votes. We also propose that panel members serve staggered, fixed three-year terms and have the option to renew their appointment.
In the coming months, we will be pressing state lawmakers to fix the problems with the current form of mayoral control before they extend it.