It’s around this time of year—every year—that the state Assembly approves Mayor Bill de Blasio’s extension of mayoral control of New York City’s schools and the state Senate stalls it.
In recent years, the Senate has approved the extension on a year-by-year basis—as opposed to the multiple-year extensions it frequently granted to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also encouraged the growth of charter schools, an idea popular among Republicans—but not so much with de Blasio or the teachers’ union.
If an agreement in the state legislature is not reached, mayoral control will expire at the end of the month. In May, the Democrat-led Assembly passed a bill that extended mayoral control for two years, but now that bill is held up in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader John Flanagan has put forth proposals to extend mayoral control—but with the condition of allowing for more charter schools around the state. But Democrats in the Senate have argued that mayoral control should be extended without that concession.
In other words, New York City schoolchildren are—once again—being held hostage to state politics. Since mayoral control was enacted 15 years ago, the city has seen more accountability and innovative new policies, such as an increased focus on STEM education and universal prekindergarten.
The legislative session is scheduled to end on June 21, and leaders from both the Senate and Assembly have said that they intend to leave Albany that day, regardless of whether or not an agreement is reached on mayoral control.
New York City children deserve better. Supporters of mayoral control have long said that if city residents disapprove of the way schools are run, they should change the mayor. But following this year’s mayoral election, the issue will still remain, regardless of who holds the city’s highest office.
The state legislature should renew mayoral control without concessions for the sake of those who will actually feel the impact of the vote—New York City schoolchildren.