To emphasize his attempt to reinstate mayoral authority of the city’s schools, Mayor Adams gathered alongside union leaders on Monday morning — but with one notable exclusion.
The city’s teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, did not attend the mayor’s outdoor confab on City Hall’s steps, and when Adams was pressed on the matter, he punted.
It is not clear what the two talked over the weekend, but Adams claimed he had dinner with UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
The mayor told reporters, “You have to ask them about mayoral control.” All of us can agree that the more clarity we have about what’s going on in our education system, the better we’ll be at fixing it.
President Obama and New York City Chancellor David Banks (Theodore Parisienne/) are shown here.
Throughout his time in office, Adams has pushed for an extension of mayoral authority over city schools given to Mayors Bloomberg and de Blasio before him, a power granted to Adams as well. As recently as Monday, Adams redoubled his efforts, asserting that he and his Schools Chancellor David Banks, unlike their two predecessors, were educated in the city’s public school system.
According to Banks, “we shouldn’t even be here today to having this debate.” “The fact is that both the mayor and I are products of this system and have committed our lives and careers to the fabric of New York City.”
On Monday, SEIU 32 BJ, which represents building and custodial workers, Local 372, which represents over 25,000 non-teaching school employees, and the Hotel Trades Council were all there, as were their leaders and members.
This event, originally set for last Thursday but rescheduled when Adams’ return flight from Los Angeles was delayed, was remarkable for the absence of the UFT and the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, which represents school principals and other supervisors.
Mayoral authority of schools is supported by both the UFT and CSA, but unions want to see stronger guardrails in place.
Even as we support Mayoral power, we have also frequently asked for stronger checks and balances and more parental voice,” stated a UFT spokesperson on Monday.
When Albany’s mayoral control was up for debate in January, Mulgrew called on the state legislature to add two parent-elected members to the panel that approves city Education Department contracts, and to guarantee that members could not be removed from their positions for voting against the wishes of the official who appointed them.
Education oversight body should be reorganized to give it greater ability to challenge the mayor and the Department of Education, says Mark Cannizzaro, chairman of the city principals’ union. Two mayoral appointees might be removed to eliminate the mayor’s majority, and an impartial assessment of the last two decades of mayoral power could be launched.
In recent weeks, the normally-inconspicuous panel’s function has taken center stage as Adams has struggled to select and retain members, and the panel has contradicted the DOE on numerous critical budget recommendations.
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) represents about 120,000 of the DOE’s 150,000 workers. More than 6,000 school administrators are members of the CSA.
Adams said on Monday that he will be returning to Albany in the coming weeks to continue his campaign for mayoral leadership. Asking about contingency plans in the case he doesn’t win the mayoral election, Adams basically replied no.
It’s possible to set yourself up for failure if you come up with several other plans.” And we aren’t either. Plan A is the only option we have at this time. “Mayoral accountability” is “Plan A,” he said. People recognize how essential that is to us, and we’re focusing on that.