If Albany doesn’t extend mayoral control of schools, many NYC students are doomed

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By Dan Sears

Whether it’s authorizing new charter schools, protecting specialized high schools and gifted-and-talented programs or fighting antisemitism, commonsense education policies are under attack in New York City.

Fortunately, Mayor Adams has stood strong on all these issues.

That has driven various special interests — including the teachers union and activists committed to disregarding any measure of individual greatness in our students — nuts.

Since they cannot win in City Hall or the court of public opinion, they have turned to Albany’s backrooms to advance their agenda.

Their No. 1 priority? Eliminating mayoral control of our schools.

Adams will push back Tuesday on Tin Cup Day, as Albany insiders call it, when he and other mayors present lawmakers their state-budget asks.

We are both lifelong New Yorkers and determined advocates for making our public schools — of which we’re products — the world’s greatest.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams
Mayor Eric Adams’ leadership on education embodies why mayoral control is essential. Nypost

We’ve spent our lives in business, philanthropy and civic engagement.

What we’ve learned in our careers is equally true for public education: accountability matters.

Mayoral control has enabled accountability, and it is working.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg finally won control of our schools for the mayor in 2002, and he ended years of Board of Education dysfunction.

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Making our city’s top elected leader responsible for our students’ success gave voters the opportunity every four years to hold the mayor accountable for schools’ performance.

But that principle is under attack in Albany.

Common sense must prevail — the Legislature should extend mayoral control for at least another five years.

Adams’ leadership on education embodies why mayoral control is essential.

First, he knows greatness can be found in every corner of our city, and so he’s resisted pressure to end gifted-and-talented programs.

In fact, he’s expanded them into more communities, adding 1,000+ seats citywide.

Adams has similarly stood strong against a misguided effort to eliminate the Specialized High School Admissions Test.

No single test can measure a person’s true potential, but the SHSAT has proven to be a springboard to greatness for many from low-income communities where the “system” too often overlooks potential.

City leaders like Public Advocate Jumaane Williams graduated from schools such as Brooklyn Tech because the SHSAT gave them a pathway to entry.

That track record is why we invested millions of dollars in the successful campaign to protect the test and why we have donated millions more over several years to fund free test-prep courses that help better prepare black and brown students.

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Public-school enrollment began declining under Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Parents choose to put their kids in public schools when they recognize the city will not abandon proven methods for identifying hardworking, talented students. 

Test scores, down thanks to pandemic-era learning loss, have struggled to rebound.

But destroying accountability at the top will only make improving scores more difficult.

Adams knows charter schools tend to produce better outcomes for students in low-income neighborhoods than do failing public schools, as data show.

But left-wing activists, if given control, would likely destroy charters, a teachers-union priority.

Crucially, mayoral control has also enabled our mayor — and our city — to respond decisively to rising antisemitism in our public schools.

Following an abhorrent attack on a Queens teacher who dared to publicly support Israel and a Brooklyn school excluding Israel from a map of the Arab world, the Adams administration announced a new curriculum for antisemitism across all public schools.

That required the decisiveness and accountability of mayoral control.

Look no further than the recent verbal attack on a Jewish member of the city’s Panel for Educational Policy — the group that will take control of our schools if mayoral control lapses — and you can see how cultural and religious divides would hamstring education policy without clear and singular accountability.

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If the Legislature doesn’t act, mayoral control will end in July.

For the sake of our children and our city’s future, that cannot happen.

We must keep the fate of our schools in the hands of the parents and the person they elect to run the city.

Ronald S. Lauder is president of the World Jewish Congress. Richard Parsons is the former CEO of Time Warner.

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