NEW YORK, N.Y. (March 23, 2023) — In response to New York City Panel for Education Policy (PEP)’s vote on the preliminary budget on Wednesday night, public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education:
“Last night’s forced PEP vote on an incomplete education budget is an example of why Mayoral control of New York City schools is reckless and lacks accountability. Parents, educators, advocates and PEP members were shocked that Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks wanted a vote on a budget that lacked necessary information,” said Smitha Milich, New York City campaign coordinator, Alliance for Quality Education.
“This demonstrates how mayoral control erases the voices of parents, educators, and students. The Panel for Education Policy (PEP) is supposed to serve as a school board for New York City schools. But as long as the NYC mayor is able to appoint the majority of its members, the demands for increased transparency and accountability are ignored by this administration.
“Parent representatives on the PEP expressed concern for voting for a preliminary budget of $30.7 billion that was incomplete and lacked key information. The NYC Comptroller echoed these concerns and agreed with parents that a preliminary budget is not a real budget. We don’t know enrollment projections for 2023-2024, therefore we don’t know how the budget will impact individual schools and districts. It made no sense to force the PEP to vote for a budget without providing them the full information needed to understand the implications of their vote.
“Instead of listening to these parents, the administration had their appointees push through the vote, citing the lawsuit filed by parents and educators over the summer as justification for why they wanted a vote so early. This is a manipulation of the intended outcome of the court’s decision. Multiple courts agreed that the administration violated state law by using an emergency declaration to bypass the PEP vote every year – but that does not justify the Adams administration forcing an early vote on an unfinished budget. This meaningless exercise weakens the democratic process, not strengthens it.
“We stand with the parents on the PEP who are calling for transparency during this critical process of approving a huge budget that could have detrimental impacts for schools and communities. We urge the City Council to continue to fight to restore cuts to vital programs and services in the final budget.
“Finally, we hope the Governor and the state legislature are playing close attention to the chaos and detriment to democracy caused by mayoral control. We urge state leaders to include the $965,000 in the enacted budget to study NYC’s school governance as proposed by the NYS Senate. New York City’s students deserve a well funded, robust education informed by all stakeholders, not dictated by one.”