Matilda Sieger, Grade 12, Journalism Student
The primaries of the 2021 New York City Mayoral Election are quickly approaching. Scheduled for June 22 and followed by the general election on November 2, they will be a pivotal decision for NYC, as a potential plan for emerging from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is on every New York voter’s mind.
But NYC’s teachers and students are concerned about one of many other hot-button issues: public education policy. Of forty High School of American Studies students surveyed across all four grades, over half have already determined favorite candidates and issues they’d like candidates to address.
Of students interviewed by Common Sense, one candidate has the majority of support: Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur and philanthropist from Schenectady, NY. Yang plans to relieve 500,000 of the lowest income New Yorkers and wants to make public education more accessible to students with special needs.
“I like Andrew Yang … because he seems like an empathetic person,” said Hale Briner, a freshman at HSAS. “I like his plans for more equitable school admissions… [Yang] would give students who can’t afford great tutoring for the SHSAT to have a better chance of getting into schools like ours.”
Another progressive favorite is Dianne Morales, a Brooklyn native and former public school teacher. Morales’ key policies are guaranteed housing for all, defunding the police, and integrating NYC schools.
“My favorite candidate is definitely Dianne Morales because she seems to be the most progressive of the candidates. Her platform focuses on some much-needed action right now,” said Rachael Romano, a junior.
In the same vein as Yang and Morales, several in the HSAS community named Maya Wiley, a lawyer and civil rights activist from Syracuse, NY, as a potential favorite. Wiley is prioritizing increasing access to healthcare and majorly reducing the number of guns on NYC streets.
“I’m thinking either Maya Wiley or Andrew Yang because they’re both progressive and intelligent,” said Lola Musselwhite, a sophomore. “I would think that both candidates would implement progressive policies and invest heavily in public education funding.”
But not everyone at HSAS favors a progressive candidate. Of the same forty HSAS students polled, 14 percent stated that they prefer a more conservative candidate for mayor.
One pick is Ray McGuire, a former Citibank executive from Ohio, whose policies focus on a comeback of the private sector, as well as revitalizing the connection between it and NYC schools.
Logan Grodsky, a senior, voiced his support for McQuire. “I think we need someone from the outside, not another machine politician … There is a lot of stuff in our school system that does work, and it’s important that we approach education with an eye on maintaining that,” he said.
With a lot of things uncertain about NYC’s future, many HSAS students and faculty would agree that the public school system should be handled with more care than it was under DeBlasio’s administration. “Our next mayor has to instill confidence that schools will reopen in a way that protects the health of students and teachers. I think that they will have to have a sense of the ‘soul’ of the city… Someone familiar with the complicated dynamics at work, racially, economically, borough by borough, who can really understand our essence and give life to a wounded city,” said Mr. Charles Evans, an American history and government teacher at HSAS.
Political discourse and the future of NYC have always been important in the lives of most HSAS students; now, in a time of both recovery and turbulence, the voice of the next generation of voters matter.
Photo taken by Matilda Sieger
Maya Wiley (pictured above) is some HSAS students’ top pick for NYC mayor.