NYC Mayor makes a plea for mayor control in NYC schools

by Abdulhaqq Obisesan Oladimeji
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Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday urged state lawmakers on Sunday to pass legislation allowing him to continue managing New York City public schools.

The public plea came after Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed extension of mayoral control was left out of the state’s new $220 billion budget, which was passed Saturday, nine days after the April 1 deadline.

During a pair of media appearances, Adams expressed gratitude that lawmakers and the governor enacted some of his priorities as part of the state’s fiscal year 2023 spending plan — but also asked legislators to grant him “mayoral accountability” over Big Apple public education before it expires in June.

“We have to look at some of the W’s, because we’re walking away with some points on the board,” he said on PIX 11, ticking off additional childcare funding and tweaks to progressive criminal justice policies enacted in 2019.

“But let’s be clear: there’s more to do. And we have to deal with the issues around school governance. Mayoral accountability is important.”

The mayor added, “We can’t have our children uncertain about what their future is going to be.”

The state legislature’s session ends June 2, and the mayoral control law lapses June 30.

Hochul had included a four-year extension mayoral control of the schools in her January budget proposal — but both the state Assembly and Senate omitted the measure from the chambers’ budget plans released in mid-March, and it was left out of the spending plan finalized Saturday.

While Adams had asked Hochul for a three-year renewal of mayoral control, she offered him four years in an effort to show she’s “more collaborative” than disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, she told The Post’s editorial board.

During a Sunday morning appearance on WBLS “Open Line,” Adams said Albany politicians granting him an extension of mayoral control was “crucial” to him.

“We have another half of this session, and I’m hoping the lawmakers will continue to look at these important things. And the last one is crucial to me is mayoral control. This is the first time we have an African American mayor, an African American chancellor, both are public school-educated,” he said on the FM station.

“If we can’t have the control to fix our educational system, that just sends the wrong message,” Adams continued. “I’m hoping that lawmakers look at that and see how important it is to give Chancellor Banks [and] Mayor Adams the opportunity to fix the inequities in our school system.

“I think this is an opportunity to … do the right things for the children of our city,” the mayor added.

Adams’ predecessor, former Mayor Bill de Blasio, repeatedly lobbied to extend mayoral control of the schools. In 2017, de Blasio was granted mayoral control for two years, and in 2019, he received a three-year extension through June 30, 2022.

Mayoral school control was initially pushed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and approved by state lawmakers in 2002. It has been renewed several times since.

The law abolished the old Board of Education and gave the mayor authority to choose the schools chancellor. The change also turned the Department of Education into a city agency, eliminating the locally elected community school boards. Under the previous system, the seven members of the Board of Education — five appointed by the borough presidents and two by the mayor — chose the chancellor and were in charge of public school policy.

New Schools Chancellor David Banks labeled the arrangement prior to mayoral control a “broken system.”

Adams has made the case that Albany should keep control of Big Apple public schools in his hands so New Yorkers can easily identify who is responsible for local public education and hold City Hall accountable.

“Every agency in our city, the mayor is responsible, you want to point to your mayor. So if the mayor’s responsible for every agency that handles adults’ problems, why shouldn’t the mayor be responsible for the agency that handles the problems of our children?” Adams explained in March. “We should be in control of the public school system, so if we fail, vote us out.”

 

Legislative sources previously told The Post that mayoral control hadn’t been discussed by state Senate or Assembly Democratic majorities in the weeks leading up to the spending plan’s completion.

Members of the chambers told The Post that, despite the Adam’s March 8 press conference making an argument for a four-year extension of mayoral control that Hochul promised, Adams hadn’t contacted members to lobby them as the budget was being negotiated.

Two days before Hochul announced a deal on a budget in Albany, Adams yet again dined with Cuomo — a Midtown meal critics told The Post represented an “alarming” and “disrespectful” slap in the face to her as she fought for much of his state-level legislative agenda.

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