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20/20 Vision: Poll Finds That Many NYers Say Schools Got Worse In Past 20 Years

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City schools have gone through many changes over the past 20 years. But are they better for it? The latest exclusive NY1/Marist poll finds most New Yorkers don't think so. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

There have been huge changes in the city school system over the past two decades.

The Board of Education is gone and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now in charge. Most large high schools are gone and new, small schools share the buildings.

Each change is designed to improve the quality of the schools. However, according to an exclusive NY1 poll, most New Yorkers do not think that has happened.

According to the poll, 49 percent said schools have gotten worse over the past 20 years. Another 16 percent said things haven't really changed. Just 23 percent said schools have improved, while 12 percent are unsure.

Responses don't change significantly from borough to borough, across different income levels, races or ages. People who live with children are slightly more positive than people who don't but not by much.

“I went to public school when I was growing up and I got a nice education. But now?” said one New Yorker.

Men are more likely to think things are better. 28 percent of men said school quality is up, compared to 19 percent of women.

“I think there have been some excellent improvements," said one New Yorker. "There is a lot more accountability. There is much, much better communication."

“My children go to PS 89 and I'm staggered with the quality of the education they are receiving. It's fantastic,” said another.

But those who disagreed cited a litany of issues.

“Overcrowding. Budget cuts. A lot of things that once were implemented in schools, like a lot of programs, have been cut out,” said one New Yorker.

“He's cramming these charter schools into the public schools, pitting charter school parents against public school parents," said another.

“There are so many problems inherent in the standardized tests and the focus on testing,” said a third.

The mayor, who has staked his legacy in-part on school reforms, says things are much better. When he is asked why so many disagree, he points to the city's annual parent survey, which shows most parents are happy with the schools their children attend. He also points to rising enrollment numbers, saying families are voting with their feet by staying in the city and choosing the school system.

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