Albany appears to have schooled New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on his plans to permanently secure control of the city’s public schools, with the governor and legislative leaders announcing plans today to extend executive control of the education system for just one year.
De Blasio backed off his initial request for permanent control when Assembly Democrats backed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to extend mayoral control for three years. The GOP-led state Senate put forth plans to continue the system for a year, with the state having more oversight of the city Department of Education budget.
As the legislative session wound down, few city or state officials were talking about the merits of mayoral control in terms of academic achievement or financial efficiency. De Blasio had officials from every level making his case, from the City Council up to Congress. He also gathered leaders from the business executive group Partnership for New York City to promote mayoral control at a City Hall press conference.
But ultimately, the Senate’s time frame won out.
De Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said she was comfortable with the state’s move because it did not come with announced changes to city school governance. She said this and the lack of viable alternatives put forward by officials showed de Blasio and future mayors would likely govern city schools for generations to come.
“Obviously there are political considerations that make it attractive—as with rent regulation and everything else. In Albany, the folks like the supplicants to come to them. … That’s why we have sunsets on things,” Wylde said. “It’s certainly not a pilot project. It’s a well-established approach to governance.”
Wylde and David Bloomfield, a professor of education leadership at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center, said they did not think the short-term renewal would dramatically impact what transpires in classrooms.
“This is mischief by the state Senate and the governor, so they can put the mayor in a defensive position again a year from now when he is gearing up for re-election,” Bloomfield said. “It was an easy give by the Assembly in order to craft a larger compromise on other issues because it maintains the status quo.”
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