How Will an Adams Mayoralty Impact Education?

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President is the unofficial winner of the hotly contested Ranked Choice Voting New York City Mayoral election; defeating Kathryn Garcia by 8,000 out of 800,000 votes cast – a one percent victory.

Adams has been an insider for years, a State Senator, a two-term Borough President, like de Blasio, who served on the City Council and as Public Advocate. They both “know the players.”

De Blasio came into office with an expired teacher contract, the union and Bloomberg were far apart and the union decided to wait for the new mayor; De Blasio quickly resolved the contract dispute amicably.

Adams will face a similar situation, the teacher union contract ends in mid November, and the lame duck mayor will probably pass the contract along to Adams.

The union will spend the fall developing bargaining demands, the union uses a highly membership driven process, a few hundred members on the bargaining team. 

.A post pandemic contract will set the stage for Adam’s tenure; will he negotiate a mutually acceptable contract that passes muster with the union membership, the budget hawks (Citizen’s Budget Commission) and the NY Times editorial page?

A contentious negotiation could mobilize city employee unions, fighting with the folks who actually run the city, a really bad idea.

The next teacher contract could continue trends in recent agreements, an increasing role for teachers in policies at the school level, i. e., budgeting, staff hiring, selection of curriculum, etc.

Adams is a supporter of charter schools, in New York State the legislature sets the rules, currently there is a cap on authorizing new charter schools and the legislature has shown no enthusiasm over raising the cap. I doubt Adams would spend political energy on the issue, too many other more important Albany issues. For example, mayoral control, he wants to continue mayoral control: should we continue the current rules, or, is he willing to support changes?  i. e., fixed terms for PEP members, a member selected by the City Council, more transparency, etc.

Selection of a new chancellor has to be at the top of his agenda. The current chancellor, Meisha Porter is the acting chancellor who replaced Richard Carranza on March 15th. Porter is a Department of Education lifer who worked her way up the ladder from classroom teacher; she is well-liked and low profile.

Adams could appoint Porter, or, seek a higher profile candidate.

There is always a racial component; an Afro-American mayor is not under pressure to appoint a person of color as chancellor.

Bloomberg hired a lawyer with no educational experience, not possible; the current Regents would not grant a waiver.

De Blasio chose a well-liked retired superintendent, Carmen Farina.  Adams could follow the same pattern; select a former highly regarded Department of Education superintendent, or, seek a national figure?  De Blasio’s first choice, the Dade County superintendent to replace Farina bailed at the last moment and Carranza, his hurried second choice struggled from the start.

A safe choice would be a New Yorker.

De Blasio co-mingled political and educational decisions, and did it awkwardly. He spoke as a progressive opposing the SHSAT at the same time ignoring the recommendations of his School Diversity Advisory Group (See here) and leaving school integration plans to individual districts.

Will Adams select “trusted” independent members to the PEP (the Board of Education)? For the almost twenty years of mayoral control the PEP members have been almost invisible.

A key role of the mayor is the budget; Adams will inherit the de Blasio-Johnson 21-22 budget and the plans to expend the American Rescue Plan dollars. The plan richly funds schools: will Adams and the new Speaker of the City Council amend the current budget?  The Speaker of the City Council, an extremely powerful position, think Mitch McConnell; will be elected in January by the 51 members of the Council. (Read an excellent discussion of the backroom dealings to select a Speaker here). With thirty-five new Council members any Speaker may have difficulty in keeping members in line; you could end up with a fragile Israeli type coalition

Some see Adams as the first “blue collar” mayor, a true representative of the working class, others as beholden to the real estate interests.

Ross Barkan, a journalist, scribes a scathing assessment of Adams and characterizes his upcoming mayoralty as “soft corruption.”

For the almost six months we will have two mayors, de Blasio in Gracie Mansion, with a moving truck waiting outside and Adams waiting to move in. They could work collaboratively to assure a smooth transition, or, more likely, an awkward transition.  For four months Adams will still be a candidate, running for election with meager opposition. His campaign has been vague, How do you reduce crime? How do you improve housing? Improve schools?

Adams will have a transition team and who he selects will be interesting, for example, who will be his education guru on the transition team?

I am hopeful, Adams and union president Mulgrew have a good relationship and the relationship should deepen.  If he selects a high profile PEP leadership and a well respected chancellor, with independence, education initiatives can move forward.

As far as the next chancellor, I’ve got a little list

4 responses to “How Will an Adams Mayoralty Impact Education?

  1. Ed, do you have recommendations for who should be appointed chancellor? I’m interested in some folks you think would do a good job Thx.

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  2. I think the current contract was extended to Sept. 2022. Adams will have months to tell Mulgrew the next contract.

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