Mayor de Blasio kicked off his campaign for an extension for mayoral control over the city’s public school system at a March 7 press conference—but his chorus of education unions was notably absent. “If we're going to achieve our goal of being the fairest big city in America, nothing's more important than making our schools the best they can be. And with mayoral control that can be a reality,” Mr. de Blasio said at the City Hall event.
Cites Progress Under It
He credited mayoral control, which was granted by the State 17 years ago, as the reason graduation rates and Advanced Placement class participation had increased. The Mayor noted that State Senator and former City Council Member Robert Jackson referred to it as “mayoral accountability.”
“To me, there is nothing more humbling than being responsible for 1.1 million children and their future,” he said.
In 2017, state lawmakers failed to renew mayoral control by the end of the legislative session, then reached a two-year deal in exchange for excluding “zombie charters” from the state cap on charter schools. In January, Governor Cuomo proposed a three-year extension of mayoral control, which the Mayor said was “fair.”
But he also hoped there would be a day when the state would end the need for a song-and-dance routine to get an extension.
‘How Much Proof’s Needed?’
“Every year we see improvement. At a certain point I think we have to say, you know, how much proof do you need before you recognize that something is working and should be made permanent?” Mr. de Blasio asked.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza joined the crusade, noting that other school districts he headed, including Houston and San Francisco, lacked the accountability mayoral control provides to “advance equity and excellence.”
“The very future of New York City is sitting in our classrooms right now,” he said. “So when you think about mayoral accountability or mayoral control or mayoral vision, what you're talking about is the very future of New York City.”
The Mayor touted support from labor leaders who signed a March 6 letter to state legislators supporting the extension of mayoral control, including Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU and Dennis Trainor, Vice President of Communications Workers of America District 1.
But neither of the city’s major education unions, the United Federation of Teachers and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, signed the document. Representatives from the two unions were also not present for the City Hall event. Mr. de Blasio pointed to UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s Albany testimony a week earlier crediting mayoral control for the establishment of universal pre-K and improved professional development as a sign of the educators’ support.
“Generally we’ve seen outstanding support from the labor community,” he said.
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