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Mayor Gets Failing Grade on Schools

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May 5, 2009

Albany, NY — State lawmakers must decide by June 30 whether to leave the mayor in control of New York City schools, amend mayoral powers or end them. Mayor Bloomberg paints a rosy picture of the city's school system, but members of the Campaign for Better Schools do not like the way he is doing the job, and they are calling for change...especially in the way the system deals with minorities.

More than 250 parents, students and community advocates are headed to Albany today to demand change. Zakiyah Ansari is one of those parents and a Campaign member. The Brooklyn mother of eight has four children in the city school system. She says more checks and balances are needed on the mayor's powers because the system is failing Black and Latino males: Only one in four graduates with a Regents Diploma.

"It's not about us getting rid of mayoral control, it's about us looking at it differently and creating some checks and balances, because right now it's just one-man rule, and it hasn't been working for our schools."

Mayor Bloomberg and his allies say the system is getting good results and should not be changed. The Campaign for Better Schools is calling for more transparency, so the Department of Education can validate those achievement claims.

The city contends that graduation rates rose from 53 percent to 62 percent under the mayor's control, but Ansari says 2009 numbers (provided by the Annenberg Institute) show that the system is failing significantly when it comes to students of color.

"Our English-language learners, their graduation rates with Regents Diplomas have actually gone down since this kind of system of one-man rule; our Latino and African-American males are graduating with Regents Diplomas at 25 percent...that's unacceptable."

Ansari says parents, students and community groups need more representation on the mayor's Panel for Education Policy, which runs the schools. Right now, just one student participates, but the student is not allowed to vote when
decisions are made.

More information about the Annenberg graduation numbers is available at

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY