NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Deadlock has arisen in Albany over whether to extend mayoral control of New York City schools, and Mayor Bill de Blasio is on the offensive.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, de Blasio on Monday was blasting state lawmakers for playing politics with the lives of more than 1 million public school students.
Cheers greeted de Blasio at a rally inside City Hall to pressure Albany to extend his control of city schools. He said the question was “whether our schools are actually going to work for all our children or not.”
De Blasio said that if lawmakers fail to reach agreement, the old Board of Education would have to be reconstitute. That, the mayor said, is a bad idea.
The mayor told Kramer the old board was not only broken, but, “Marcia, you personally saw — when I say chaos and corruption under the old school boards, I know you reported on a lot of that.”
The mayor said reconstituting the school boards will also cost taxpayers a whole lot of money.
“It is projected that this will cost $1.6 billion more over the next 10 years, because we’d have to reconstitute local school boards and all the administrative staff and all the redundancy,” de Blasio said.
As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, de Blasio said city education was a raw deal for everyone before mayoral control, when there were 32 separate school districts.
“The rich got richer, the poor got poorer when they came to our school system,” de Blasio said. “It was massive inequality. There were children left behind on a regular basis. There were schools that failed and no one did anything about it.”
City officials called on state lawmakers to put politics aside.
“I would like to recommend that our Albany legislators read ‘Profiles in Courage,’” added schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “This is a very important book that says, ‘Do what’s right, not what’s politically expedient.’”
There are many factors in play. One is the firm belief of Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) in charter schools – he wants the city to greenlight more charters in exchange for mayoral control.
A total of 50,000 students are on charter waiting lists, and Flanagan wants them taken care of.
“We are going to stay focused on extending mayoral control and increasing opportunities so every child can receive a first-class education and follow their dreams,” said Flanagan spokesman Scott Reif.
De Blasio said he has spoken to Flanagan.
“He’s said out loud — even in the last week — that mayoral control is the only system that works, and he put forward three bills that would extend mayoral control,” de Blasio said
But de Blasio says an extension of mayoral control should not come with strings attached.
Politics are also in play. De Blasio infuriated Senate Republicans by aggressively campaigning against them after he became mayor.
Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-33nd) supports mayoral control. But he said de Blasio is to blame for the current crisis.
“This whole political circus is created by the mayor. He’s his own worst enemy,” Ulrich said. “Now he wants to blame the folks in Albany for the fact that he’s lost their confidence.”
Whatever happens will have to happen quickly, because the legislature is slated to leave Albany on Wednesday night.
A Senate spokesman said lawmakers intended to end the session on time, with or without the school agreement.