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NY Legislature’s obscene hostage-taking on mayoral control of schools

With bare weeks left in the legislative session, state lawmakers are torturing Mayor by Eric Adams holding hostage the renewal of mayoral control of the city’s public schools, now set to expire June 30.

Chaos would ensue if the city actually had to re-establish the old Board of Education, potentially ousting Chancellor David Banks as the system’s boss and utterly derailing Adams’ and Banks’ efforts to repair the damage wrought in the de Blasio era, including all the ground lost during the pandemic.

It’s far more likely the Legislature will do an extension of two or three years, while also undermining mayoral control by adding new strings. The only winner will be the school unions (whose power grows as accountability is diffused) and the lawmakers eager to take Adams down a peg.

Meanwhile, it’s all just one more thing for parents to worry about. In a sane world, mayoral control would be permanent until lawmakers decided to replace it. But that would leave Albany powerbrokers less able to indulge themselves at the kids’ expense.

Department of Education Chancellor David C. Banks speaks at a rally for mayoral control for New York City Public Schools on March 8.
Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

This, when the Adams-Banks agenda is so promising: Lose the woke ideology, support and expand the parts of the system that work (the test-in-only specialized high schools and Gifted & Talented programs), prune the bureaucracy and increase accountability , do more for kids with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and return to phonics as a proven method of teaching children how to read.

In a tell of who’s really calling the shots, Albany is aiming to demand smaller class sizes, requiring more teachers (the United Federation of Teachers’ perennial goal: more members) even as enrollment declines.

State Senate Education Committee chief Sen. John Liu (D-Queens) also wants to dilute City Hall’s influence on the Panel for Education Policy by adding another parent representative and making City Comptroller Brad Lander (a relentlessly pandering de Blasio-style progressively likely hostile to the interests of Liu’s own constituents) an ex officio member.

Mayor Adams held a rally with union leaders for mayoral accountability on the steps of City Hall on Monday, May 9.
Mayor Adams held a rally with union leaders for mayoral control on the steps of City Hall on Monday, May 9.
NYC Mayor’s Office

Yes, Adams erred in failing to set up an effective Albany lobbying team, instead naively relying on the Legislature to simply do what’s right. As a former state senator, he should’ve known better. And relying on the weak reed of Gov. Kathy Hochul was another huge mistake.

But the major blame belongs at the door of Liu, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bx.) and others in the city’s Albany delegation whose first loyalty is clearly with the special interests, not the families they supposedly represent.

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