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March 12, 2015

Contact:  Josey Bartlett (718) 803-6373

Today, New York City Council Member and Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm rallied with Council Members, parents and educational advocacy groups calling upon the New York State Legislature to eliminate the Governor’s executive budget proposal on school receivership.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget includes a plan authorizing the State Commissioner of Education (SED) to designate receivership districts in the lowest 2.5% statewide and schools in the lowest achieving 5%. In these cases, the SED Commissioner would be authorized to appoint an individual, another district, or a non-profit organization to assume the management of the school or district. The “receiver” would have the power to unilaterally change school budgets, curriculum, collective bargaining agreements, school schedules and school staffing. The receiver would also be authorized to convert the school into a charter school– without a vote of parents.

However, there is no evidence of the effectiveness of the receivership model.

“Governor Cuomo’s school receivership plan isn’t appropriate for New York City,” said New York City Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “We already have a plan called Renewal Schools that is showing great promise.  The Renewal Schools plan infuses an additional $150 million into our neediest schools.  It reduces class size to 25 students and provides individualized professional development, among other things.  Teacher ‘buy in’ is vital to the plan’s success and that is why I am happy to see that teachers in Boys’ and Girls’ High School voted to extend their day by one hour to provide additional instruction. New York City residents including parents support local control over our schools and our Mayor has stepped up to the plate on this issue.  The Renewal Schools plan deserves a chance to succeed.”

New York City is directly accountable for the performance of city public schools, pursuant to mayoral control.  In November, the New York City Department of Education unveiled its comprehensive plan to revitalize the city’s lowest performing schools, designating 94 struggling schools in the Renewal Schools program. Each renewal school will become a community school and will be accountable for reaching certain academic goals and targets. Class size in Renewal Schools will be reduced to 25 students so teachers can give extra support to students who need it the most.   Renewal schools will also undergo a stringent review of staff, curriculum and support structures, and schools that do not meet certain targets will face DOE authorized reorganization and may face closure. Over $150 million in additional support has been allocated to Renewal Schools, and preliminary results in attendance and test scores show marked progress.

New York City’s Renewal Schools program is proving to be an effective model for improving local schools and our students should be allowed the time to fully reap the benefits of this innovative program.

“Mayor de Blasio’s Renewal Schools program relies on community involvement so families, educators and school leadership have an internalized responsibility and there are customized, deep-rooted improvements to schools. Governor Cuomo’s school receivership plan potentially eliminates parent and teacher involvement, which will not yield the long lasting results we want. We know the needs of our children and our schools best and, therefore, improving their performance should remain under the control of New York City,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras.

“Our local government is best equipped to respond to – and find solutions for – low-performing schools,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “I join Council Member Dromm and my City Hall colleagues in demanding local control over our schools. New York City knows what our students need to be successful.”

“The Governor’s move towards receivership is a move in the wrong direction. I stand with parents and the City in calling for local control of public schools. If the Governor is serious about helping New York City public schools, he can provide our fair share of education funding owed to the City under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal

“Governor Cuomo’s attempt to undercut our city’s ongoing work to improve struggling public schools is flat out wrong,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.“These are New York City public schools, and they are already getting the strong support and rigorous reviews they need from Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Farina and the rest of our city leadership. We must continue those efforts without interference from Albany, and I stand firm with my Council colleagues to say that it simply makes no sense to place our city schools under state receiverships.”

“We are already paying the price in New York City for years of neglect by the state for shortchanging city students billions of dollars over the course of many years. It is insulting and disingenuous for the state to now come in and say they are going to be the savior when they are the root cause of many of the problems facing urban school districts. The city already has a plan in place to advance the community school initiative. This is a holistic approach that will address the many needs of our students and is an initiative that is worthy of our resources and support, absent of threats from the state. If the state truly wants to support our school system, they should come up with the billions of dollars that our kids are legally owed in New York City,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. 

“It is tremendous to see the progress our children are making every day with increased access to wraparound services, more time learning with teachers, and increased school investment. There can be no doubt that it takes a community to raise a child, and our community – here in New York City – knows this best. For this reason, I am proud to support local school control,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “The notion that Albany bureaucrats should have school control rather than local communities and parents is wrong and reckless. The State already owes the City billions in court-ordered education funding and clearly has not lived up to this mandate.  We must question Albany’s credibility on educational issues, not embolden these bureaucrats with more authority.”

“New York City has a plan for assisting struggling schools,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “‎‎By giving schools they resources they need to succeed, combined with community support, specific benchmarks and high standards, we will ensure that our students succeed. State receivership is not the answer. I thank Council Member Dromm for his leadership on behalf of our City’s students.”

“For the first time in a decade we have a plan to actually turn-around struggling schools,” said Michael Mulgrew, President, United Federation of Teachers. “We have a mayor and a schools’ chancellor who not only understand what it takes to do this, but are committed to making it happen. Where was Gov. Cuomo the last four years? Nowhere to be found.  Now, suddenly, Cuomo is interested in struggling schools. Maybe that’s because he took a lot of campaign contributions from people who like the idea of privately-run public schools. Because suddenly his answer is to strip away local control and given these schools to some outside entity, one that he picks.  But state takeovers of public schools have a lousy track-record. That’s not a solution. Our city has a mayor who has said he is determined to turn these schools around, for the students and staff in them, and has a plan to make it happen. That is a real solution. ”

“We don’t need another unproven experiment on our children. What we need are College ready community schools. With adequate funding they will be able to offer art, music, science and technology; rigorous, engaging curriculum; supports for teachers to learn and grow; and comprehensive social, emotional and health services for students and families.  The Governor’s plan for receivership will tear schools and communities apart, College ready community schools will transform schools and communities for the better along with improving academic outcomes for students,” said Natasha Capers, Coordinator, Coalition for Educational Justice.

The governor’s receivership program is very similar to some of Bloomberg’s failed educational policies, which focused on punishment and closure instead of offering comprehensive support,” said Maria Bautista, Campaign Coordinator, Alliance for Quality Education. “Under this plan, Governor Cuomo would replace NYC control over public schools with gubernatorial control. He should keep his hands off our schools. He needs to focus on funding them properly, not trying to take them over.”

“Isn’t it strange that when we finally have a Mayor who cares enough about our kids to invest in – rather than abandon – struggling schools, Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Tisch step in to undermine that plan? Closing schools and handing scarce public assets over to the State or unaccountable charter school organizations is a rehash of failed status quo policies which left us with so many struggling schools in the first place. Mayor de Blasio’s Renewal School plan is innovative and the right way forward.  Step aside, Governor Cuomo, and let the Mayor do his job!” said Noah Gotbaum, Vice President for Manhattam Community Education Council 3.





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