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New York City parents, teachers feel left out of school decision-making, new report says

NYC parents, teachers want more say in school decisions, according to new report
NYC parents, teachers want more say in school decisions, according to new report 03:01

NEW YORK -- When it comes to making decisions impacting the nearly 1 million public school students in New York City, should Mayor Eric Adams be the boss?

A new report from the state finds that both parents and teachers feel they don't have enough say in schools.

When then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg convinced the state Legislature in 2002 to let him run the schools and pick the schools chancellor, it was regarded as a landmark reform that did away with a system of local community school boards often criticized for cronyism, corruption and uneven educational standards .

"I know you have had some reservations about giving the mayor control of the school system. It is my job to show you that I was right," Bloomberg said at the time.

Now, an evaluation by the state education department is urging a redesign because parents and teachers feel left out of the decision-making.

With a need for the Legislature to extend mayoral control by the end of June, state officials are urging lawmakers to revamp it to:

  • Empower students, parents and teachers,
  • Create more avenues for meaningful deliberation and shared decision-making, 
  • Ensure more accountability and transparency with stronger principles of checks and balances,
  • And establish a commission to consider reforms to the New York City Department of Education governance structure.

Adams, who hadn't been given the report before his weekly press briefing, slammed the methodology, insisting officials should give more weight to the great strides city schools have made in improved test scores and graduation rates.

"I'm concerned -- is this more political, or is it about the way we have done it and what Chancellor Banks has done?" he said.

CBS New York political reporter Marcia Kramer had the opportunity to question First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg during a hurriedly arranged briefing after the report was issued.

"What would you say to the parents and the teachers who did testify at these hearings that feel that their voices aren't heard?" Kramer asked.

"The thing I would say, Marcia, to those parents is, what do you think your input is going to be like if there is nobody who is really accountable?" Weisberg said.

In a statement, Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said, "Once the budget is done, we look forward to an in-depth discussion about adding more checks and balances to New York City's system of mayoral control. We thank the state Education Department for the work it put into this report as well as to all the New Yorkers who participated in the process to have their voices heard."

Queens Sen. John Liu, the chair of the Senate committee on New York City education, said the report would be "invaluable" as the legislature decides whether to let the mayor keep control of the schools.

Nowhere in the state report does it recommend a return to the old system. Kramer covered education under that old system and reports there have been great improvements in the schools since mayoral control was enacted; graduation rates are up -- about 50% compared to the 80% who graduate now -- along with math and reading scores.

But Kramer does think lawmakers will add parents and teachers to the panel on educational policy that makes key decisions.

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