Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio was all smiles last week after Albany finally granted him a two-year term of control over City schools.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Following a politically charged, contentious couple of months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last Thursday signed legislation to extend mayoral control of New York City schools for two years.
“Providing a two-year extension gives the system an important measure of stability that’s key to initiatives that have produced record achievement,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “In extending our control of the nation’s largest school system, State lawmakers and the Governor deserve great credit for protecting the dramatic progress our teachers and principals have made in classrooms across the city. At the end of the day, Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and Leaders Flanagan, Klein, and Stewart-Cousins worked overtime to ensure New York City schools continued on a path of progress. The bipartisan cooperation that prevailed on this issue will have an immediate and lasting effect on the lives of our city’s children. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, education advocates, business and labor leaders, and a diverse coalition of allies played an equally crucial role in putting aside partisan politics and getting this legislation across the finish line.”
Thursday’s development arrived just a day after Cuomo issued a proclamation calling for an “extraordinary legislative session” to extend mayoral control. De Blasio and Senate Republicans had been quarrelling over mayoral control terms for months. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan had reportedly offered one-, two-, and even five-year extensions of control, but the deals came with demands, including tuition tax credits for private and parochial schools in the five boroughs and lifting the charter school cap.
In the end, the Assembly and Senate agreed to a two-year extension—seemingly with no political strings attached.
“A lot of controversy, a lot of discussion, but at the end of the day this is the best way to provide education to our children in New York City and we all talk multiple times a day about how important education is,” Cuomo said. “It was critically important to extend mayoral control and to extend it for two years is a job well done by the Legislature.”
Some of de Blasio’s most vocal critics laid blame for the months’ long antagonistic back-and-forth with Senate leadership at Gracie Mansion’s doorstep.
“It is a disgrace that the mayor’s unwillingness to work with the governor and the State Legislature placed public school students in the crosshairs,” City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said. “Under [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg, mayoral control reformed a broken system and produced real results. It is critical that Mayor de Blasio put politics aside so that this doesn’t happen again – the future of our children hangs in the balance.”