New York City has the largest public school system in the nation, with over 1 million students in 1,700 schools. But who makes the decisions about how these schools are run? And how can parents and students shape the schools in their own communities?

CUP collaborated with teaching artist Max Allbee and students from Vanguard High School to find out who has a say in the public school system, and where students’ voices can be heard. Students investigated the different entities that make up the NYC school system, and learned about student and community decision-making power at the school, district, and city level. During their investigation, students interviewed parents, student advisory groups, and school administrators.

Students created, Voice Recognition, a fully illustrated poster showing the stakeholders and decision-making processes that effect NYC schools. 

Students debuted their poster and shared their creative process with a group of Public Allies New York Fellows at the historic Vanguard High School auditorium. They created a faux talk show and interviewed each-other, the “mayor”, and a paper mache robot complete with a mayoral control panel.

Get your own poster here!

What People are Saying

“This is a program that helps you understand who is in the Department of Education and many of the different people and roles they have.” — Kira Murillo, student

I would recommend this project to a friend because it’s good to know that you have a voice in and what you can change.” — Aboubacar Kroumah, student

Resources & Links

Vanguard High School is a Title 1 school in Manhattan committed to cultivating the resources necessary to become literate, articulate, analytical, reflective, and empathetic citizens.  

Funding Support

Major support for this program was provided by Deutsche Bank. Additional support was provided by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. 

Special Thanks

Clara Amenyo, Lila Barrett, Lisa Donlan (District 1 Community Education Council), Norm Fruchter (Annenberg Institute for School Reform), Christine Gaspar, Bill Klann (Vanguard High School), Judith Kafka (Baruch College), Paola de Kock (Citywide Council on High Schools), Ron Morrison, Keri Ouellette, Mireille Pilloud, Joaquin Sapien, Ari Sussman, Mariel Villere, Karen Watts (Brooklyn High School Superintendent), and James Whitman


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Max Allbee
  • Project Lead
  • Valeria Mogilevich
  • Project Support
  • Sam Holleran
  • Pema Domingo-Barker
Vanguard High School 

  • Students
  • Kavon Boykins
  • Dayshawn Davis
  • Jaleesa Gilmore
  • Eddie Holland
  • Aboubacar Kroumah
  • Andy Matos
  • Kira Murillo
  • Devin Stagg
  • Project Support
  • Erica Doyle