Another 16% say the quality has remained the same despite all the changes to the system - from the demise of the old Board of Education to the advent of mayoral control to the closure of many large high schools and the opening of many new small schools.
Just 23% say the schools have improved.
NY1 reports that responses to the poll do not change much across borough, income level, race or age - 2/3rds of the city's inhabitants believe the school system has either not improved or gotten worse over the last 20 years.
And what are some of the complaints people cited for why they believe the system is worse now than it was a generation ago?
“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.
Mayor Bloomberg thinks the school system has gotten much better since he took over total control of it a decade ago. When asked by NY1 why so many New Yorkers and parents of NYC public school students disagree with his assessment of the state of NYC schools, the mayor pointed to school surveys that showed parents were happy with their own schools and rising enrollment which shows people are voting with their feet.
And yet, the mayor could not explain the dismal NY1/Marist poll numbers.
49% say the system is worse than a generation ago.
Another 16% say it is about the same - even though the mayor has had autocratic control of the system and pushed through a radical agenda of school closures, standardized testing accountability, and charter school expansion.
Those numbers - independent of the DOE's school surveys, which are of course slanted since parents and teachers know if they make any complaints in the surveys, those complaints will be held against the individual schools, not the DOE as a whole - are hard to argue with.
But leave it to the data-loving mayor to argue with data that doesn't agree with his worldview that he has done a magnificent job of reforming the NYC school system and given another year, will do an even better job by closing another 60 schools and opening another 30 charters.
The mayor has gotten a Mayor Data Report in the form of the NY1/Marist poll - and he has failed to add value to the school system or to the education of students.