New York, NY – Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic with schemes for hybrid in-person and digital learning, has unintentionally brought back the issue of mayoral control of the city’s school system — a matter the mayor fiercely fought for back in 2017.
Prior to de Blasio’s current tenure as mayor, which began in 2013, the city’s 32 public school districts were run by their 32 different district leaders and focused on their own 32 various needs. That’s until former Mayor Michael Bloomberg won control of them from the state in 2002.
In June 2017, de Blasio found himself in a t tooth-and-nail fight to maintain mayoral control of the public school system — after many years of receiving only a one-year extension for the responsibility of the more than 1,600 public schools.
Remarkably, even Gov. Andrew Cuomo, de Blasio’s political sparring partner, campaigned for the mayor to have a three-year extension on mayoral control of schools to make the process of developing school budget’s faster. In the past, the mayor’s crusade to extend his mayoral control via the state Legislature didn’t get voted on until he had an annual budget for each of the more than 1,600 public schools ready by June.
At stake was public funding for public schools, which many school advocates felt was being siphoned away to charter schools. Despite negotiations with Senate Republicans to give de Blasio mayoral control for three years if he lifted the cap on increasing the number of charter schools in the city — de Blasio ultimately waited them out and received mayoral control for two years.
On Sunday afternoon, the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators [CSA], which represents 6,400 school leaders, voted “no confidence” in de Blasio and Carranza, and called on both men to cede control of the Department of Education.
“School leaders want school buildings reopened and have been tirelessly planning to welcome back students since the end of last school year,” said CSA President Mark Cannizzaro. “They must now look staff, parents, and children in the eye and say that they have done all they can to provide a safe and quality educational experience, but given the limited resources provided them, this is becoming increasingly difficult.”
Miranda Barbot, a spokeswoman for the city’s DOE, believes the city did its best.
“For the past six months, we’ve worked with our labor partners to navigate completely uncharted waters and accomplish our shared goal of serving students this fall. We’ll continue this work to guarantee a safe, health and successful opening for all,” said Barbot. “This week, more kids will be safely sitting in New York City classrooms than in any other major American city — a testament to city leadership and our educators’ commitment to their students, and the importance of in-person education.”
The CSA has lost “trust and faith” in de Blasio and Carranza, according to Cannizzaro.
“Quite simply, we believe the City and DOE need help from the State Education Department, and we hope that the mayor soon realizes why this is necessary,” said Barbot.