Today, the Partnership for New York City submitted the following testimony to the New York State Assembly on Mayoral Control of the New York City School District.
Thank you, Chair Benedetto and committee members, for the opportunity to submit testimony on mayoral control of the New York City school system.
The Partnership for New York City represents the city’s leading businesses and their 1.5 million employees in the state. We work together with government, labor and the nonprofit sector to maintain the city’s position as the preeminent global center of commerce, innovation and economic opportunity.
The business community has consistently supported mayoral control of the public schools as the only way to effectively manage such a large and complex system. We appreciate that the Assembly has continuously supported multi-year extension of this system. We see no other way to hold the Mayor, the Chancellor and the Administration fully accountable for the quality of the schools. When authority was distributed among a variety of elected officials and community boards, student performance and the overall quality of education suffered.
A few weeks ago, the city announced that college enrollment for 2018 public high school graduates reached a record high of 62%. Since the inception of mayoral control in 2002, the high school graduation rate has grown from 50.8% to 72.7% overall and from 38.8% to 67.1% for Black and Hispanic students. Dropout rates are at historic lows. More students than ever are taking and passing Advanced Placement exams and English test scores are up in every district.
These improvements would not have been possible without the clarity of a system in which the mayor has defined authority over leadership, labor contracts, management and budget. There also has been an ability to focus on the needs of the students and the schools, in contrast to the distractions of politics and personalities that were rampant in the previous governance system. There also has been relative continuity in the tenure of chancellors, which has helped stabilize school leadership and resulted in successful initiatives such as Universal Pre-K.
We urge the Assembly to continue your support of the current governance system and to avoid any dilution of mayoral authority and accountability.