Mayoral control of New York City Public Schools ends on June 30 and Eric Adams is now making his case to keep it that way.
The mayor of New York City wants Albany to continue a precedent set by former mayor Michael Bloomberg who was awarded mayoral control by the state legislature in 2002, which essentially ended the New York City Board of Education.
This decision gave Bloomberg the power to choose a citywide schools chancellor and other powers, including appointments to the Panel for Educational Policy (a new version of the Board of Education).
Adams wants that same power. He wants that same accountability.
Before going to Albany to make his case, he attempted to make it to New York City residents.
“The chancellor and I have laid out a bold new vision for our children and for the families that attend our public school system,” said Adams during a news conference at City Hall. “And this is the first time in history where we have two men who grew up in the public school system with two different experiences. One dealing with the learning disability, another dealing with a Gifted and Talented program…We grew up in this system, and we know what’s needed. And so this is an unprecedented moment for the two of us in understanding the power of the public school system.”
Chancellor David Banks chimed in as well.
“We shouldn’t even have to be here today to have this conversation,” said Banks. “The reality is that the man and I are both products of the system, and we’ve dedicated our lives and our careers to the fabric of New York City. A man spent the bulk of his career in the police department and I was in the classrooms, educating young people. And I remember the system and the way it was, and it was a system…with political corruption. It is the reason why we went to mayoral accountability. The old system did not work.”
Adams has the support of unions including DC37, 32BJ SEIU, the Hotel Trades Council and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Kyle Bragg, president of 32BJ SEIU, said that going back to a pre-2002 way of doing things would backfire and control of schools should be left with City Hall.
“New York City’s 1.1 million school children should be above politics and our schools system should embrace clear accountability,” said Bragg, in a statement. “There is absolutely no doubt that extending mayoral control is to everyone’s benefit—students, teachers, and parents alike. Going back in time to a pre-mayoral control system would be a disaster. Our kids would lose out and our schools would be thrown into chaos.”
One of the unions not listed is the United Federation of Teachers. When contacted, a union spokesperson said the union is fine with Adams’ wishes, but they also want to make sure he’s kept in check.
“While we support mayoral control, we have also repeatedly called for more checks and balances and greater parental voice,” said UFT’s spokesperson. The UFT then directed us to a page on their website outlining how to improve the Panel for Educational Policy: “Add two more parent member seats filled by the presidents of the Community Education Councils to replace two mayoral appointments. Change to fixed one-year terms that begin on August 15 for all members, so PEP members can’t get tossed off the panel for voting their conscience and to ensure thoughtful transitions. Maintain a sunset provision to ensure accountability.”
Adams also spoke about what public schools can produce.
“Public schools that are doing the right thing produce chancellors, mayors, and union leaders and union employees,” the mayor said. He also said that city kids are waiting to feel normal again.
“After two years of trauma to our students, uncertainty cannot be part of the curriculum,” said the mayor.