The New Mayoral Control Law in New York City: Who Won? Who Lost?

Beginning with Governor Pataki governors used an arcane section of the state constitution and court decisions to cram non-budgetary items into the budget, the legislature grumbled, if they failed to pass the budget by April 1st the state could not pay its bills, including paying state employees.  Under Governor Patterson the legislature flexed its muscles and refused to pass a budget, and had to pass budget extenders to keep the state running, each extender contained a slice of the governor’s budget, after a few months the governor got his budget. 

Suddenly, in August, Cuomo resigned facing impeachment and Kathy Hochul, the virtually unknown lieutenant government sat in the Governor’s Mansion, and immediately began her campaign for the 2022 Democratic line with two opponents, Tom Suozzi a Nassau County congressman running from her right and Jumaane Williams, the New York City Public Advocate, running from her left and probably a well-funded Republican running in November.

Governor Hochul released her 160-page preliminary budget at the end of January, and it included many non-budgetary items, including,

NYC Mayoral Control. The Executive Budget provides a four-year extension of Mayoral control of the New York City school system.

Mayor Adams could cross off his to-do list and move on to other items and Hochul expecting an Adams endorsement.

Adams did not endorse Hochul, maybe he wanted to use the endorsement to squeeze her for other legislation. Adams did have a widely publicized dinner  with our disgraced former governor Andrew Cuomo, who might be considering running in the August 23rd primary.

As the budget talks proceeded in Albany the legislative leaders announced the budget would not contain any non-budgetary issues, the governor could not run around the legislative process, all non-budgetary bills would be debated and dealt with through the legislative structure, for the members, a long desired goal.

On March 4th a Joint Meeting of the Assembly and the Senate met and invited political leaders and the public to participate, Mayor Adams spoke briefly, on his way to another meeting from his car. Representatives from half of the CECs, the Community Education Councils, and spoke, all opposed the renewal of mayoral control, and they did not offer a specific plan, except, parents play a major role on the PEP, the Panel for Education Priorities, and the central school board. I added my three minutes with my testimony.

The budget passed without any mention of mayoral control and the question of mayoral control was contentious in the legislature. Mayor Adams traipsed to Albany to meet with legislative leaders, who were in Buffalo with President Biden in the wake of the horrendous shooting. The bungled process to rehire or replace superintendents was alienating parents and a few key legislators across the city (See my blog here) and in the waning days the legislature took action.

  • Extended mayoral control for two year (until 6/3024)
  • Expanded the Panel for Education Priorities, from the current 15 members (one appointed by each borough president, one by the CECs and nine appointed by the mayor, the appointing authority can remove members at any time), the new PEP will have 23 members, 13 appointed by the mayor, (three of whom must be current public school parents of a Special Education, an ESL and a District 75 student) one appointed by each borough president , five appointed by the CECs, to fixed terms, see bill text below.
  • Additionally, the City must use State Aid to reduce class size under a specific timetable; if the City fails to comply future funds will be withheld.

See class size bill here  

 Sections 1-5 - amends the contracts for excellence statute as it relates to New York City to require New York City to develop a class size reduction plan to reduce class sizes over the next five years, with input from parents and stakeholders.

See governance structure (PEP) bill here.

Summary of new governance structure:
 Section 1-10: Increases the members of the PEP to include more parents, codifies the Citywide Council on District 75, increases CEC membership, provides CECs with a greater role in the selection of superintendents, requires New York City Department of Education to provide greater outreach and communication to CECs, requires a parent coordinator in every school, requires an assessment of New York City school governance and extends mayoral control and accountability for two years. All members are subject to one year terms and may only be removed for good cause. This section also increases the number of mandated parent appointments made by the Mayor and requires that one be a parent of a student with a disability, one be a parent of an English Language Learner, and one the parent of a student attending a District 75 school.

I have heard the usual cynicism from naysayer; however, the language in the bill is unique,

In  a city school district in a city having a population of one million or more inhabitants such contract shall also include a plan, WHICH SHALL BE DEVELOPED IN COLLABORATION WITH THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UNITS REPRESENTING TEACHERS AND THE PRINCIPALS AND SIGNED OFF ON BY  THE CHANCELLOR  AND THE PRESIDENTS OF EACH BARGAINING UNIT, to reduce [aver-age] ACTUAL class sizes, [as defined by the  commissioner,  within five years 
  The winners:
 Leonie Haimson, the leader of Class Size Matters, who has who has fought the battle, at times one of the few voices, for years and years
 The school education community, the gals and guys actually in classrooms
 The teachers union, the UFT, often reviled by the print media, quietly and effectively achieved a goal it had sought for decades.
 The State legislature, who listened to the school community and responded in creative way, 
 The loser:
 Mayor Adams
 Maybe ego, maybe inexperience, maybe he will learn. Failing to endorse Governor Hochul after she included mayoral control extension in the preliminary budget was a blunder, a serious blunder. 
 The NY Post, the Daily News, see David Bloomfield’s op ed, calling the legislature a “sausage factory,” quoting the trope “Laws are like sausage, better to not see them made,” on the other hand, sausages taste good.  Is 23 too large for a board, will the membership spend all its time bickering, are there better governance models?   The Board of Regents has 17 members, the debate is oft times contentious and many effective policy decisions. 
 Relationships matter, Cuomo and de Blasio spent eight years bickering.
 Mayor Adams failed to respect Governor Hochul

2 responses to “The New Mayoral Control Law in New York City: Who Won? Who Lost?

  1. Mayoral control over public schools is another fascist tactic to turn a republic/democracy into a kleptocratic autocracy … one step at a time from the bottom up and the top down.


  2. Pingback: Repairing a Leviathan in Flight: Rebuilding a School System | Ed In The Apple

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