In 2002, New York State legistators voted to approve “mayoral control” of public schools in New York City. That means the mayor has direct control over how the city’s schools operate, and a central authority makes decisions citywide. Many parents, teachers, administrators, and students are concerned that mayoral control makes it harder for them to have a say in how their schools are run because all the top-level decison makers are appointed by the mayor.

This issue of Making Policy Public was created by CUP, Teachers Unite, and designer Silas Munro who worked together to create a fold-out poster that lays out the different levels of decision makers who govern NYC’s schools. Parents and students can use the poster to find out where they can participate in decisions about schools at every level—from their local public school up to the Mayor’s office.

The Schools Are Us poster debuted in April 2014 at a community meeting of the Brooklyn Brownstone School in Bedford-Stuyvesant with over 40 parents in attendance. The following day Teachers Unite was asked to distributed the poster at a Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council (CPAC) meeting at Tweed Courthouse, the Department of Education’s headquarters. Members of the council, who represent PTAs from across the city, were excited to get a  poster that breaks down the DOE’s structure and offers a guide to parents seeking greater involvement in school decision-making. The poster is currently being distributed widely by Teachers Unite and their partner organizations.

Get your own copy here!

“Finally we have a simple visual to explain the complexity of the NYC school governance system! Our public education system is opaque, complex, and intimidating for many parents. This incredible tool breaks down the system into manageable pieces so that more parents are empowered to get involved.”  — Shino Tanikawa, CEC 2 President

“This is the guide for parents to demystify the governance structure of the DOE, the largest school district in the U.S.. For a parent to interact with and understand the governance structure [of the DOE] they need easy access. This is that entry point… This poster is it!”— Rob Bowen, education activist

Resources & Links

Teachers Unite is an independent membership organization of public school educators supporting collaborations of parents, youth, and educators fighting for social justice.

Silas Munro is a design nomad — his life and practice have straddled many disciplines and geographic places. He operates poly:mode, a studio that reflects the hybrid nature of his work as an artist, designer, maker, researcher, teacher, and writer.

Making Policy Public is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). CUP partners with policy advocates and graphic designers to produce foldout posters that explain complicated policy issues, like this one.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; the Nathan Cummings Foundation; the Surdna Foundation; A Blade of Grass; North Star Fund; and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Special Thanks

Clara Amenyo, Devan Aptekar, Fatima Baba, Debbie Clements, Marjorie Ingall, Kim Nauer, Milo Novelo, Jake Rodriguez, Melissa Rodriguez, Sarah Serpas, Denise Soltren, Dyske Suematsu, Javian Torres, Annika Wolanczyk, Roxanne Wolanczyk


  • CUP
  • Project Leads
  • Valeria Mogilevich
  • Christine Gaspar
  • Project Support
  • Sam Holleran
  • Mark Torrey
  • Teachers Unite 
  • Advocacy Partner
  • Sally Lee
  • Lisa Donlan
  • Silas Munro
  • Designer