Your Video Issues Guide to the 2021 Mayoral Race: Education

The next mayor will have to deal with the educational damage wrought by COVID-19 and the profound problems of quality and equity that challenged the city’s schools even before the pandemic.

covid school

Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Pandemic procedures in a classroom at P.S. 5 Port Morris in the Bronx in December.

At $28 billion a year, the price-tag for the Department of Education isn’t just the largest item in the city’s budget. It’s one of the largest public-sector budget items in the country—larger than the entire annual budget of half the 50 states.

With nearly a million students (13.5 percent of them English Language Learners, 20 percent dealing with a disability and 73 percent of them economically disadvantaged) in more than 1,800 schools, the dollar figure only begins to capture the enormity of the education task that, thanks to mayoral control, the woman or man in City Hall now shoulders.

In our latest issues video, Ben Max of Gotham Gazette and I break down the education issue as it’s playing out in the 2021 mayoral race, with a focus on the questions voters should ask when candidates start articulating their visions for one of the largest public institutions in the county.

Watch our earlier videos on policing, the climate and jobs.

Janelle B. Smith

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