Mayor Eric Adams will head to Albany in the coming weeks to fight for one of his biggest priorities this year: keeping control of the city’s public school system. But he’ll be facing a less-friendly legislature.
“Well, the proposal is not fiscal. So it makes no sense to include it as part of a budget,” said Queens Democrat John Liu, who chairs the state Senate’s New York City Education Committee.
What You Need To Know
- Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to give Mayor Eric Adams four more years of mayoral control as part of her state budget proposal
- State lawmakers argue it should not be included in the budget, but passed outside of the $233 billion proposal
- Mayoral accountability has been in place since 2002
Hochul is already facing pushback against her declaration from her budget announcement day — that she wants Adams to be running city schools.
“I once again support New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ request to continue mayoral accountability of the school system for another four years. It has been granted to every mayor since the year 2002,” said Hochul during her budget address in Albany on Tuesday.
The legislation allows New York City mayors to appoint a chancellor and a majority of the people sitting on the Panel for Educational Policy — who vote on school policy.
Michael Bloomberg was the first mayor to win control of the system. From 1970 to 2002, the system was run by a highly politicized, citywide school board, whose members were appointed by the mayor and the five borough presidents. 32 elected school boards also had great control of the system.
Some elected officials said that Bloomberg created a pattern of mayors dominating the Panel for Educational Policy.
“If he didn’t like the way they would get a vote, he fired them and put someone from the administration instead! That, of course, is totally unacceptable. It totally defeats the whole purpose of having these panels,” said Queens Assemblyman David Weprin.
The legislature is the only check on the mayors’ power and lawmakers have used that leverage as a bargaining chip — forcing Bloomberg and then Mayor Bill de Blasio up to Albany to all but beg for extensions of their power.
Right now, Mayor Adams faces a June expiration of his current two-year span.
“I think that Mayor Adams has sewn grave distrust among many parents like myself,” said State Sen. Jessica Ramos, a mother of two.“He engaged in school cuts when he actually had the money, and now he’s restored these cards and we want someone who takes our children’s education seriously!”
Legislators slammed Adams for threatening education cuts, moving migrant kids out of shelters near the schools they attend and also dragging his feet on pushing the Department of Education to accept state-mandated, smaller class sizes.
“I don’t think that the quality of our children’s education should stand at the whim of who the mayor may or may not be,” Ramos said.
Officials said the over 20-year-old system is under review for a revamp.
“We have the State Education Department working on a very comprehensive study of school governance, like other major school districts around the country have done,” Liu said.
Lawmakers like Liu oppose Hochul throwing a bone to Adams. They’d rather have more time to hash out details or make Adams sweat.
“This is not about what Mayor Adams deserves or should be awarded. In fact, the issue of mayoral control or school governance should be decided on our history.”
The legislature gave Adams a hard time two years ago after he assumed office — complaining that the former state lawmaker didn’t come to Albany enough to make his case for mayoral control.