Once again it’s time for the state Legislature to make a decision about mayoral control of the schools. Should Mayor de Blasio have complete control over New York City public education?
His term so far would suggest the answer is an emphatic “No.”
Right now, as the kids in our many struggling schools can attest, we simply don’t have a steady hand on the tiller of our educational system. And it’s not as though de Blasio is merely a steward of a substandard status quo. The quality of education in New York has deteriorated on his watch.
Right now the de Blasio administration is being rocked by fraud and corruption accusations.
And consider the mayor’s cozy relationship with Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers — and the fact that the union made a $350,000 “contribution” to the mayor’s slush fund and wound up with a sweetheart teacher contract that in effect erased many educational and contractual gains of the previous administration.
In addition, de Blasio has shown himself to be untrustworthy. Take, for example, the recent cover-up of weapons found in New York public schools. In the last 10 months, School Safety agents have confiscated over 1,700 weapons.
These include loaded handguns, knives, stun guns, boxcutters, a meat cleaver and so much more.
Plus, where’s the teachers union? Why aren’t teachers demanding safer schools? Thankfully a group of parents has sued the city in an effort to get a safer school environment for our students, teachers and school workers.
Recently, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña boasted that she visits at least six schools a day and she always feels safe. Excuse us while we stifle a belly-laugh. Heck, if I traveled with the chancellor’s entourage we’d feel safe too!
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says, “The reason we are finding more weapons is because we are doing a better job.” Sorry sir, the reason there are more weapons is because there are insufficient consequences for students who bring them.
During recent testimony in Albany, both de Blasio and Fariña painted a wonderful picture of a public-school system flourishing under mayoral control. I don’t know which school system that is, but it sounds great. We wish New York City had one like it.
Now, we’ll admit we do have many great teachers who love our children, but the mayor and chancellor aren’t spinning here. They’re simply fabricating a make-believe world.
Start with the fact that about 70 percent of our students can’t read, write or do math at grade level. Yet Fariña and de Blasio boast about improved test scores and high-school graduation rates. They conveniently forget to mention that more than half of graduating high-school seniors can’t do college work until they pass remedial classes, which they must now pay for.
They forget to mention that de Blasio has abused mayoral control by creating a “credit recovery” scheme whereby high-school students are given credits toward graduation for attendance and a demonstrated ability to use proper punctuation, among many other nonaccredited methods.
In essence, under de Blasio’s mayoral control we’ve been giving away free high-school diplomas just to make his numbers look good.
To top it off, de Blasio denied state-approved funding for pre-K students to city charter schools. That’s right, the mayor’s willing to hinder his own pre-K initiative because he doesn’t like any charter schools that refuse to be bullied by the mayor.
It’s well past time to say, “Enough is enough.” De Blasio shouldn’t be given the continued opportunities to set back our children’s education. At least for now, with this mayor, mayoral control must come to an end.
Sam Pirozzolo is a Staten Island parent and vice president of the New York City Parents Union. Mona Davids is founder and president of the NYC Parents Union.