Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, will testify today in front of the New York State Senate Committee on Education in support of mayoral control of schools in New York City. Her full testimony as prepared for delivery is below.
“Mayoral control has restored the confidence of employers in our city school system,” Wylde’s testimony states. “The signatories to the letter are not necessarily Democrats nor fans of Mayor de Blasio. They are advocates for a well-run public education system. We hope the legislature appreciates the importance of this issue enough to rise above politics and extend mayoral control for at least three years.”
Testimony Submitted to the New York State Senate Committee on Education
Extending Mayoral Control of Schools in New York City
Thursday, May 19, 2016
President & CEO
Partnership for New York City
The Partnership for New York City represents business leaders and employers working together in the interests of the city.
The top priority of our members, who employ more than a million New Yorkers, is an outstanding public education system that prepares young New Yorkers for jobs in the global economy. Since it was founded by David Rockefeller and other leading CEOs in 1980, the Partnership has actively supported education reform and investment in the public schools, including development of strong school leaders, enhanced compensation for teachers and principals, charter schools, early childhood education, and industry collaboration in career and technical education.
On the governance side, the Partnership consistently advocated for mayoral control of city schools. We co-chaired the task force that helped the legislature develop the mayoral control statute and participated on the legislative commission that drafted the statute to reverse school decentralization. We continue to believe that mayoral control is the best governance system and that it would be a mistake to dilute the mayor’s authority and accountability, regardless of who is mayor.
New York City cannot afford to return to the state of public education that existed prior to 2002, when the school system was chaotic, inefficient, plagued by patronage, and highly politicized. For more than 40 years, we saw a steep decline in educational quality and student performance, largely due to a governance construct that was unmanageable.
Under mayoral control, with a Chancellor accountable to the CEO of the city, the energy and resources of educators and administrators are focused solely on education outcomes, with the result that student performance and graduation rates have consistently improved. Significant new programs like universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs have been put in place at a scale and pace that would have been impossible under a less efficient governance system.
Prior to mayoral control, the city had stopped opening new schools that offer career and technical education (CTE). In fact, no CTE schools were opened between 1968 and 2003 and the legacy CTE schools were left to decay. Since 2003, the city has begun to make improvements in these programs. There are now seven early college high schools, 42 dedicated CTE high schools and another 88 high schools with CTE programs. This year, the city will partner with leaders of the high tech industry to launch a Computer Science for All program – something which could not have happened without a strong governance system.
The current status of city schools remains imperfect, with still too many failing schools and struggling students. Proficiency tests still show that far too few students are adequately prepared for college and careers. But we do know who is in charge and who to hold responsible if the slow but steady rate of improvement does not continue.
Mayoral control has restored the confidence of employers in our city school system. Yesterday the Partnership released a letter signed by more than 100 CEOs of major businesses urging the legislature to extend mayoral control on current terms. The signatories to the letter are not necessarily Democrats nor fans of Mayor de Blasio. They are advocates for a well-run public education system. We hope the legislature appreciates the importance of this issue enough to rise above politics and extend mayoral control for at least three years.