Mayor Eric Adams has called for continued mayoral control of the public school system in New York City by his office. The current period of mayoral control expires in June 2022. Mayor Adams is calling for an additional four years of control as promised by Governor of New York State, Kathy Hochul. Initially, Adams had requested a three-year extension but Hochul insisted, in a move to show that she was working on the same page with the mayor, on granting a 4-year extension. The extension will have to be granted by the New York legislature in Albany. “We applaud Governor Hochul for sending a loud and clear message that we need to have mayoral accountability for four years, and it should be included in the budget,” he said. Mayor Adams emphasized the point that he and his team had done a great job of managing the schools. “We brought that certainty and clarity when the school system started and we inherited it in January, and that is the clarity we brought with mayoral accountability,” he said.
Mayoral control of the public school system saw its genesis in 2002 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Adams commended the former mayor, claiming it was only the right move to have the education of the children of New York under the custody of a single responsible and accountable entity. Several extensions were granted with the system continuing under Bill De Blasio’s mayoral terms. De Blasio saw two extensions of mayoral control handed to him, with one in 2017 for two years and another in 2019 for three years. The law permitting mayoral control abolished the old system that had a Board of Education. The Board of Education was made up of 7 members, 5 appointed by the borough presidents and two by the mayor, as well as 32 community school boards. Members of the community school boards would be elected into the position and in charge of elementary and middle schools. The board had the power to pick a chancellor and was in charge of policy. With the abolishment of this system, powers were firmly placed in the mayor’s office.
Department of Education School Chancellor David Banks stood firmly in the mayor’s camp, agreeing that the old system was a broken one. “It was a system filled with corruption. I think mayoral accountability, this new system, has been far superior to what we have seen in the past,” Banks said. Banks added that it would be an advantage for the city and children to have the mayor in control of the public-school budget because it would create certainty, clarity, and accountability.
Adams lamented the fact that approximately 65% of Black and brown children never reach proficiency. He also mentioned how 100,000 school children are homeless. Adams is eager to place the responsibility of improving the holistic environment and situation of both learners and educators, on him and his team. But it seems things will not simply go the way Adams wants. Some Democrats wish to limit the control the mayor would have over public schools. Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Chairman of the Education Committee in Albany’s lower chamber confirmed that mayoral control of the schools would not be included in the one-house budget bill. This is a development both Adams and Hochul will be unhappy about. Adams expressed his disappointment at the possibility of his office being denied Mayoral Control. The Assembly is seeking changes to Mayoral Control but still has not expressed what changes they want to the current legislation.