Mayor Adams lobbies Albany to extend mayoral control of schools

Mayor Eric Adams made his pilgrimage up to Albany on Tuesday with a wish list in hand to push through last-minute policy items before the legislative session ends in just two weeks.

"The bulk of our conversation was around mayoral accountability," Adams said briefly before catching his train back to New York City.

Meeting one-on-one with state lawmakers, Adams made his case that mayoral control of city schools should be extended for the next four years.

"Now they have to go back and say, 'Based on what we heard, this is what we want to do,' and I just respect the process," Adams said.

Since 2002, mayoral control has given the mayor of New York City almost complete power over the city's public school system, including appointing the chancellor and a majority of members who serve on an oversight panel.

Mayoral control has been widely supported but recently the union representing teachers in the city, advocates, and some parents are pushing for changes they say would give parents and teachers more of a seat at the table in policy discussions.

"We cannot extend the current model of mayoral control of public schools without giving parents and teachers a louder voice and restoring checks and balances to the Panel for Educational Policy," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

And lawmakers are listening.

"Parents with kids in schools, really in recent years, have been more and more concerned and exasperated about the lack of responsiveness they've been getting from the Department of Education and the lack of ability even to ask simple, straightforward questions," state Sen. John Liu said. "So we're not looking to take accountability away from the mayor. But at the same time, we need to make sure that that there's a stronger mechanism for parents to weigh in, both with their questions as well as their input."

The chair of the Senate's New York City Education Committee, Liu said he had a very productive conversation with the mayor but lawmakers are not likely to extend mayoral control for a full four years. Liu said only renewing mayoral control every few years has given lawmakers a chance to evaluate how well the system is working or not working.

But the discussions are far from over.

"This is the way government works, and education is by far the most important function of state, as well as city government," Liu said. "So whether it be once every few years or however frequently, the mayor should be engaged in the state legislative process."

Mayoral control is set to expire on June 30.

Adams was also in Albany to push for extending a program that gives tax breaks for housing developments with affordable housing and speed cameras in school zones.