NY Assembly’s scheme would end mayoral control, keeping only the name

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Beware: The draft Assembly plan to renew mayoral control of the city’s public schools is a stealth bid to undermine it.

Yes, it would give Mayor Eric Adams the three-year extension he initially requested, but at the price of reducing his direct appointments to the schools-governing Panel for Educational Policy from nine of 15 members to 10 of 18 — while also making it near-impossible to fire an appointee for providing a swing vote to thwart his reform agenda.

That last is the true point of setting staggered, fixed terms for the mayor’s appointees.

This is a play by Assembly Democrats to please the United Federation of Teachers, whose power grows directly as the mayor’s shrinks and as accountability is blurred. The UFT would love to return to the nobody-truly-in-charge days of the old Board of Education; this plan pushed it that way.

And the idea that three new seats would allow for representation of more views (parents of special needs kids, or even charter-school parents) is a just camouflage: Who gets to pick these new members is key, and you can bet the process would be something complex that would maximize UFT influence.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and State Sen. John Liu are seeking to limit Mayor Eric Adams’ direct control of NYC schools.
Hans Pennink

Meanwhile, Senate Education Committee chief John Liu (D-Queens) suggests other strings to renewal, like mandating class sizes of 25 or less. That’s mainly meant to maximize UFT membership: Sometimes, larger classes are the best use of limited resources.

Other ideas in the mix are creating an “independent” schools watchdog to report back to the Legislature, as if the State Education Department (which Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie effectively controls, by the way) didn’t already have all the needed power.

Mayoral control should be permanent, to end the ridiculous and venal “renewal” games. No other system of governance allows for any hope of real accountability.

State Senator John Liu joined more than hundred of people attended Justice for Asian Women Rally on Times Square.
State Sen. John Liu suggests capping the size of classrooms as a bargaining chip for mayoral control.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

Yet the Assembly plan looks to “renew” control while actually replacing it. In other words, it’s a bid to end accountability for the schools by lawmakers who themselves don’t want to be accountable for doing it.

Any “victory” like this would doom not only Adams’ hopes to deliver for parents and kids, but all hope for any mayor ever to fix the schools.

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