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With hearing on Mayoral Control set, Reilly reminds colleagues of need for serious reforms; pens letter to Assembly Education Committee Chair

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 30, 2020
CONTACT: Peter Giunta, 347.621.8031

It was announced today that the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Education would hold a formal hearing later next month on whether Mayoral Control of the New York City public school system should be extended beyond 2022, when it is set to expire. Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-Staten Island), who has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Mayoral Control self-governance mechanism, addressed a letter to Assemblymember Michael Benedetto, a Democrat from the Bronx and Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Education, asking for the committee to consider reforms that Reilly previously offered in 2019, the last time Mayoral Control was examined by the State Legislature. At the time, Reilly, who is a former President of Staten Island’s Community Education Council 31, introduced A. 7339, which aimed at reforming Mayoral Control, or, more specifically, the New York City Department of Education’s governing body known as the Panel for Educational Policy.

The Mayoral Control model has existed since the 1950s and has been implemented differently in cities all throughout the United States. In New York City, Mayoral Control of the public school system was first implemented in 2002 under then Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Over the years, whenever the State Legislature would consider an extension to the law, it has resulted in heated debate, as it will surely do once again. Reilly, on behalf of the Assembly’s Republican Conference, debated the extension of Mayoral Control in 2019, arguing that reforms should be made by the State Legislature first, instead of a rubberstamp.

In his letter to Chairman Benedetto, Reilly, again, suggested that the following reforms be considered during the Education Committee’s hearing on Mayoral Control of public schools:

• Reduce the Mayor’s influence over the Panel for Educational Policy by limiting the Mayor’s number of appointments to just seven (out of 13), while permitting the New York City Public Advocate to make one appointment, as well as one appointment each from the city’s five Borough Presidents.

• Implement a two-year term limit for an unlimited number of terms for members of the Panel for Educational Policy.

• Require mandatory review of Mayoral Control by the Public Advocate and Borough Presidents annually and that report on the effectiveness of Mayoral Control be issued by such officials every five years.

• Provide members of the Panel for Educational Policy with protection from unjust removal by requiring that recommendations for removal be approved by a majority vote of the other 12 members, as opposed to serving at the pleasure of their appointing authority.

• Reduce political influence by requiring four Mayoral appointments to be public school parents, up from only two, and requiring that three appointments have expertise in an area that will assist the Panel for Educational Policy in achieving its purpose.

“Even the most well-oiled machines need their parts replaced after some time – and since 2002, New York’s Mayoral Control model has remained largely unmodified. As the parent of two current public school students and one former public school student, I know I speak for many parents when I say that I feel as though the Department of Education continues to drift further away from the interests of our kids, to the benefit of only city bureaucrats with political agendas,” said Reilly.

He continued, “Although I am not a member of the Assembly’s Education Committee, I do hope that Chairman Benedetto and Education Committee members take my recommendations under consideration. These reforms could have a profound impact on the nation’s largest public school system and help further propel our city’s 1.1 million students to success.”

A copy of Reilly’s letter to Chairman Benedetto can be found here.

A video of Reilly’s debate on Mayoral Control from 2019 can be found here.

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