New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday said an era of “corruption and chaos” awaits the city’s public school system if state lawmakers do not renew a law by Wednesday that grants his office control over city schools.
In a radio interview, a Brooklyn church appearance, and on Twitter, de Blasio urged the state Legislature to extend the so-called mayoral control law before the end of this year’s legislative session on Wednesday. The law, which gives the mayor oversight over the school system of 1.1 million students, is set to expire on July 1.
Speaking on “The Cats Roundtable,” a radio show on 970AM, de Blasio said he was “very concerned” that the Legislature had yet to approve an extension of the law which was first enacted in 2002, following a push by then-Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg at the time sought to overhaul what he described as a “broken” and inefficient system led by political appointees.
De Blasio said without an extension of the law New York City public schools will go back to being run by 32 community school boards.
“Unfortunately a lot of chaos went with that,” de Blasio told host John Catsimatidis of the old system. “A lot of corruption went with that. A lot of patronage ... a lot of people went to jail, we’ve got to make sure we never go back to those days.”
Speaking to congregants at Wayside Baptist Church in Brooklyn, de Blasio said mayoral control had given his administration the ability to launch the city’s Universal Pre-K program, and played a role in driving up high school graduation rates over the past 15 years.
“Mayoral control of education makes it possible to do big things fast and aggressively and fairly,” de Blasio said.
The Democratic-led state Assembly has approved a measure that would extend mayoral control by two years, but Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan, has balked at approving an extension unless it includes a provision to increase the number of charter schools in the city.
Flanagan (R-East Northport), in a statement, said the charter school provision was needed because there are thousands of city students on waiting lists to enter the privately-run, taxpayer funded schools.
He criticized the de Blasio administration for “an unwillingness to advocate” for the expansion of charter schools. Democrats by-in-large oppose charters schools, arguing that they siphon resources away from public schools, while Republicans contend the schools provide students in underperforming schools with an alternative.
Senate Republicans “will not grant a long term extension of mayoral control without first ensuring that all students have opportunities,” Flanagan said.
De Blasio told Catsimatidis, his administration has worked with charter schools, adding “it’s not fair to link the charter school issue to something as fundamental as how we run our schools everyday for 1.1 million kids.”