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Adams expresses his argument for the mayor’s control over New York City schools in Albany

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Adams expresses his argument for the mayor’s control over New York City schools in Albany

This work is a collaboration between Chalk and CITY.

With less than a dozen working days left before the end of the legislative session in Albany early next month, Mayor Eric Adams is asking to give him control of New York schools until it expires in late June.

But he is doing it from afar, after giving up a planned trip to Albany. According to people familiar with the internal debates, some Democrat members have privately worried about Adams ’absence in state Capitol halls as he seeks a four-year extension of control of the mayor.

He now promises to visit state lawmakers “in the next few weeks” to appeal why his administration should continue to oversee the city’s school system.

Adams had to cancel the rally planned last week to garner support for what the first-term mayor calls “mayor accountability” after the flight was canceled after a walk in Los Angeles funded by the companyand criticism of the weather that he is distracted when his administration tries to secure a key victory.

He held this postponed rally on the steps of City Hall on Monday morning with School Chancellor David Banks.

“The Chancellor and I have set out a new bold vision for our children and families attending our public school system,” Adams said. “This is the first time in history that we have two men who grew up in a public school system with two different experiences: one dealing with learning issues, the other a program for the gifted and talented.”

Lawmakers are likely to expand the mayor’s control, but may not give Adams exactly what he asks for. They are discussing some changes, including a one-year extension, a way for families to participate in key decisions or a combination of the mayor’s control with a study of his achievements two decades after its introduction – as sought by the main union.

“The likely outcome will be a system in which the mayor continues to oversee, and so we can hold him accountable for school successes or failures, but a system that also provides a significant mechanism for strengthening parental involvement,” said Democratic Sen. Queens. John Liu, who chairs the Senate Education Committee in New York. “This is the main problem – that parents feel that they do not have the opportunity to join, that their suggestions and complaints are not even heard.”

“Stability and guarantee”

By the third school year, defined by a pandemic that interrupted education and pushed educators and children to new forms of learning, Adams argued that greater control of the mayor was needed to ensure a certain consistency.

“After two years of injuring our students, uncertainty cannot be part of the curriculum. It should be stability and a guarantee that these young people will know what will happen in the next school year, ”the mayor said at a rally on Monday.

Certainly, the Adams administration faces many challenges over the next four years in office in the nation’s largest school system. Schools and educators continue to mentally and academically emerge from the pandemic. While the education department while refusing disclose data from students’ own assessments of gaps in learning, scores on national tests released in July 2021 showed that the typical student lags behind in reading and math, with more significant declines among black, Hispanic, and Native American students, as well as children in low-income schools.

Chronic absenteeism – if students miss more than 10% or more school days – reached the highest level this school year at least since 2000according to the education department.

Enrollment has jumped in 6.4% from the 2019-2020 school year when the pandemic began. Further falls in enrollment could push Adams to do so controversial decisions to close schools, although the mayor recently said he is not currently considering closing.

Adams did not share specific information about what his administration plans to do with the additional four years of running for mayor. Instead, he pointed to what he considered a success under former mayors: the creation of a universal pre-K under former mayor Bill de Blasio and an increase in the number of graduates. (Prices at the end climbed across the country since the early 2000s for mixed reasons before the pandemic, and in New York there have been changes at the state level helped increase those numbers.)

Asked for details on what types of policies or points the mayor’s office will follow if the mayor gains control, spokesman Fabien Levy reiterated Adams’ views on the achievements of the previous administration, ideas he said were “exposed”. risks without the responsibility of the mayor. ”

Education spokeswoman Nathaniel Steer pointed to bank address in Marchwhere the Chancellor discussed his vision of empowering virtual learning, changing how the system teaches students to read, giving principals more autonomy and providing more exciting programs for students such as career and technical education.

So far, the Adams administration has announced expanding the gifted and talented the program (the opposite of what de Blasio wanted to do), is broader summer programming and jobs for young people and many COVID security solutions, such as providing more kits for testing at home and abolition of the mask for K-12 schools.

What can the changes in the mayor’s office look like?

Mayorial control of schools became part of state law in 2002, but has never been permanent, giving Albany officials a chance to have some power over the state’s largest metropolis. This forces mayors to go north and ask for an extension, sometimes including political barter.

It is renewed every few years with the date of sunset. The last time the mayor’s control was extended was in 2019 under Blasio.

But even though it is constantly expanding, it hasn’t always been easy.

De Blasio almost lost strength when black and Latin American lawmakers in 2019 said the then mayor did not answer their questions about control of the mayor, forcing the mayor to go to the state Capitol at the last minute. In 2017, a deal to expand the mayor’s control was due to an increase number of statutory schoolsa concession to the Republicans who controlled the State Senate.

Although Democrats now control both chambers, lawmakers and political observers believe the mayor’s control will be expanded, in part because there is not enough political will or time to find a replacement system before June 30, or return to the previous system of 32 community councils.

But the governance system may not receive the four-year extension called for by Governor Katie Hochul and Adams, which covers the entire first term of Adams’ tenure.

Liu said it was unlikely that Adams would get an extension in four consecutive years.

According to Albany’s sources, lawmakers do not seem to have enough support to ensure Adams’ victory. Instead, lawmakers are still debating how to pave the way forward, said state spokesman Michael Benedetta, a Bronx Democrat who chairs the House Education Committee.

“Now we are in the flow and we are still looking for ideas,” said Benedetto, a former teacher.

The expansion could be combined with more members or a reduction in the mayor’s powers over a 15-member commission on education policy, or PEP, a council that is mostly appointed by the mayor to vote on major school policies and contracts.

Mayor’s stamp is no more?

The mayor’s authority primarily operates in two ways: he elects the director of urban schools and appoints a majority, or nine, of PEP members. The presidents of the districts elect an additional five, and the 32 parent councils of the city elect a representative – a change that occurred as part of a concession to expand control of the mayor in 2019.

Although this council was often seen as the mayor’s stamp, Adams ’refusal to elect all nine of his appointees led to the rejection of his administration’s last two proposals. During last month’s panel vote rejected the formula for funding urban schools for fear that it is not fair enough to raise concerned that schools will receive late budgets for next year.

One of Adams ’election to the council was forced to resign after the New York Daily News revealed her works against gays. The administration has not yet replaced this place.

Asked Monday why the legislature should entrust him with oversight of the mayor if he has failed in his duties to appoint all nine members, Adams said he wants to “fix everything right”.

“We have to do it right because if you’re laying the foundation, you don’t have to keep coming back and reviewing it,” Adams said, adding that he expects the school principal to announce a new appointment in the coming days.

Many lawmakers, advocates for parents and the city’s teachers ’union are interested in giving families more voice in the system through PEP. To achieve this, Liu said he had heard several proposals, including adding more PEP members to be elected by local parent councils, or giving the mayor a single majority appointment on the board. This will require the mayor to demand the support of at least one non-mayor to have his proposals accepted.

Liu also heard proposals to give PEP members fixed deadlines so that they could not be removed from the board for any reason. The teachers’ union called for one year.

Currently, mayors and district presidents can dismiss their nominees at any time and must submit a written public notice explaining the reasons for the dismissal for at least 10 days. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Staten Island District President at the time are known to have removed PEP members in 2004 after some spoke out against Bloomberg plan how to promote third graders.

Some of these proposals seem possible for State Representative Joe Ann Simon, a Democrat from Brooklyn who sits on the Assembly’s Education Committee, who said she would also support more PEP members representing certain types of students with high needs, such as the disabled and the homeless. as well as an audit of the impact of City Hall on student learning over the past 20 years.

Since Adams was mayor for only four months, a three-year extension would be more appropriate, Benedetto said, giving the mayor plenty of time to implement reforms but also allowing the legislature to be a check.

“When we elect the mayor of New York and give them that power, we have to be vigilant and constantly watch to see if they are doing the right thing and how it has been going on for a number of years,” Benedetto added. .

“I don’t know if he’ll get what he wants,” he said of Adams’ four-year extension. “People are usually optimistic about such issues, but sometimes there is no optimism. So will he get it? It remains to be seen. ”

Katie Honan of THE CITY contributed.

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