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For Immediate Release Contact: Shom Shamapande 917-447-5752
May 5, 2009 Billy Easton 518-461-9171
Legislators, parents, youth and community groups speak out for greater
checks and balances to the
“I have spoken to parents in my community and it is clear that we need significant changes to the system of mayoral control,” remarked Assemblyman Carl Heastie (D-Bronx). “We need meaningful checks and balances, real transparency regarding student achievement and greater participation by parents and students on decisions that affect educational policy.”
"The Mayor’s message is ‘mayoral control isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what you had before,’” said Senator Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn). "However, that doesn’t mean the needs of students are truly being met by the current system that still leaves too many behind. With the stakes as high as they are for our children and their future, this legislature will require greater checks and balances and transparency from the school system and the next mayor if we are to allow mayoral control to continue."
“Less than one in three Black and Latino students graduate with a Regent's diploma. I saw this at my school. My high school classes were overcrowded. For one class, I had to sit on my teacher's desk, ” said Iris Martinez, a recent graduate of a
Some of the key elements of reform being sought by the Campaign for Better Schools are:
Reasonable checks and balances
¨ Through an independent Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) where a majority of members are appointed by elected officials other than the mayor;
¨ PEP members need to have fixed terms of office rather than being able to be removed at-will;
¨ The PEP needs defined powers to approve the proposed DOE budget, major education policies, and large procurement contracts; and
¨ The Chancellor should be appointed by the Mayor and serve as an ex-officio member of the PEP.
Transparency by requiring the Independent Budget Office to produce reports on DOE finances and academic achievement and allowing the New York City Comptroller to audit DOE.
¨ By creating an independent Center for Parent and Student Service and Empowerment to conduct outreach, training, and support for parents and students;
¨ Through restoring the responsibilities of the District Superintendents to resolve problems and oversee schools in their districts; and
¨ Giving Community Education Councils a meaningful vote in school closings, and restructurings—including the opening of schools within existing schools.
"Under mayoral control as it now exists, English Language Learners (ELLs) are failing to achieve an acceptable level of academic performance. During the past seven years the graduation rate for English language learners has gone backwards, the present system without checks and balances is not getting the job done for our children," said Veronica Mirafuentes, mother of 3 students in PS 503.
"We have made some significant strides since we adopted mayoral control,” explained Senator Diane Savino (
“One man rule of our schools, in which the mayor by himself controls all educational policy decisions, has not solved many of the critical problems facing our schools, particularly among young people in my community and other neighborhoods of color, ” argues Zakiyah Ansari, a resident of Brooklyn and a parent leader representing the Campaign for Better Schools. “Our schools are still failing the vast majority of poor children and immigrant children. Instead of one-man rule, we need the mayor’s leadership to be coupled with meaningful checks and balances. Without these real changes, there will be little chance of truly reforming our failing schools and creating a citywide system that provides quality education for all our students.”
“Mayoral control as we know it is a disaster for our children and for parental involvement,” said Senator Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan). “We will fix it with the success of this parent led movement.”
"Mayoral control has failed to produce any meaningful improvement in academic achievement, most significantly with respect to the shameful racial gap in graduation rates. The current system requires real change in accountability and transparency in order to produce real results for our children," commented Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn).
Echoing the remarks of Assemblyman Jeffries, Pat Boone, a grandparent of public school children and the President of the NY ACORN and a member of the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, added, “In 2007, the Regents graduation rate was an unacceptable 37%. And worse, only 28 percent of African American and 26 percent of Latino students achieved a Regents diploma in four years, compared with more than twice that percentage – 57 percent – of White students. The achievement gap is alive and well.” She continued, “Mayoral control without checks and balances is not getting the job done on closing the racial achievement gap or in ensuring that everyone successfully graduates from high school.”
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Campaign for Better Schools is a coalition of over two dozen major parent and community organizations: ACORN, Advocates for Children, Alliance for Quality Education, Center for Arts Education, Child Care, Inc., Chinese Progressive Association, Coalition for After-School Funding, Coalition for Asian American Children & Families, Cypress Hills Advocates for Educations, Education Voters of New York, El Centro de La Hospitalidad, Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project, Haitian Americans United for Progress, Highbridge Community Life Center, La Union (Fifth Avenue), Make the Road New York, Metropolitan Russia-American Parents Association, Mirabal Sisters and Community Center, Mothers on the Move (MOM), NAACP New York State Conference , New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee, New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, New York Civic Participation Project, New York Immigration Coalition, Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, Queens Congregations United for Action, Urban Youth Collaborative
AQE, Communications Coordinator
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