Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams narrowly won the Democratic mayor’s primary, according to the Associated Press.
In the city’s first preferential vote election, Adams edged out former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia on Tuesday by 8,426 votes in tabulations that included postal ballots.
As a Democratic candidate, Adams will compete in the heavily favored November election against Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa. If Adams wins, he will control the country’s largest school system from January 1, 2022.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s successor will have a lot to do plaque regarding schools in New York City: handling a massive injection of COVID stimulus funds, dealing with the fallout from the pandemic and tackling the city’s segregated schools at a time when tensions are erupting over the racial justice issues and culturally appropriate education.
Other questions that education observers are asking themselves: will the next mayor be in favor of charter schools, which have seen their enrollment increase steadily and will now educate about 13% of students in public schools in the city? How will Adams get along with the teachers ‘and principals’ unions, who did not support him? What kind of school chancellor could Adams appoint, and what will his vision be for tackling the vast education bureaucracy? Will he strengthen early childhood education and continue to focus on pre-K, which was Blasio’s signature education achievement?
Then, of course, the question arises as to how well Adams will get along with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has a major influence on the state’s education funding and has often asserted his authority over de Blasio in the past. during this tumultuous school year.
Here are some other big issues the next mayor will face and how Adams might respond, based on reporting from Chalkbeat, previous talks with the Borough President and his campaign platform.
Integration of schools
New York City is one of the most segregated school systems in the country. While segregation tends to pool resources and influence in only a few schools, integrated schools can improve academic performance and produce more civic students, among many other benefits.
For years, the city’s sought-after specialty high school seats and gifted programs, both of which have few black and Latino students, have been the subject of heated debate.
Adams said he would add more selective high schools and argued that expanding gifted classes to more communities would lead to the admission of a more representative group of students into competitive schools in the city.. He also said he would create more places in specialized high schools for the best students in each college.
Expansion was attempted before, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg added five special schools in the early 2000s, but schools have only become less representative of the demographics of the system since then. Adding more selective schools could have the opposite effect of the intended effect, by concentrating more students with more academic needs in fewer campuses.
As for the Specialized High School Admission Test, an exam that is the only admission criteria for eight of the city’s special high schools, Adams would not remove it. He also does not intend to remove the admission test for 4-year-olds for places in the city’s gifted and talented programs, or G&T, serving about 16,000 elementary students. Many integration advocates see the entrance test given to 4-year-olds as a barrier to diversity.
Catching Up With Students Amid COVID-19
The coronavirus has exposed deep gaps in opportunities for the city’s most vulnerable students.
Many students with disabilities are deprived of the services they are entitled to, but are expected to get makeup services in the coming year, thanks to federal COVID relief funds. There are also concerns about whether English-language learners – who are more at risk of dropping out compared to their native English-speaking peers – need even more support after more than a year of disrupted learning. The city still has not installed Wi-Fi in all homeless shelters. When the moratoriums on evictions expire in September, it could swell the ranks of homeless students, who already make up 10% of the school system.
Adams discussed keeping schools open year round and having a permanent distance learning option – although it would not put 400 children with a single virtual teacher, as he said at one point. He says he would fund online education by levying a data tax on big tech companies that sell private data to advertisers and others.
It would “create more flexibility for parents on how and when their child receives their education so that students are not left behind and we can make better use of our educational infrastructure,” he previously told Chalkbeat.
Schools in difficulty and vulnerable students
The focus on the COVID-19 toll has distracted attention from an issue that has long confused New York City mayors: how to improve the city’s poorest schools. Distressed campuses often suffer from structural inequities ranging from academic and racial segregation to teacher recruitment and retention.
Adams said he is committed to hiring more bilingual educators and helpers, especially for the roughly 4,000 students who need bilingual special education. For students with disabilities, it would prioritize real-time tracking to find out if they are receiving all of their services, and if not, filling those gaps before the end of the year. And for young people in the foster care system, who are among the most vulnerable in the system, Adams would develop a mentoring program while investing in employment programs.
Changes to the school police
Following massive protests against racist police violence, pressure has grown to rethink the school police. The next mayor will face major decisions on whether to reduce the role of the more than 5,000 school officers who patrol schools in the city – which itself is one of the largest police forces from the country.
De Blasio has agreed to initiate a multi-year process to transfer oversight from the NYPD’s school safety division to the education department, but much of that work – and implementation – will fall to the next mayor.
Adams, who was in the NYPD for 22 years, said he wanted security guards to stay, but said there shouldn’t be a “police culture” in schools.
Charter school relations
The next mayor will also decide how accommodating the city will be when charter schools request space in public school buildings.
The question may be less relevant in the immediate future, as the city has reached the cap on the number of charter schools that can open under state law.
Still, the mayor will set the tone and determine how friendly to be with a sector that educates about 138,000 of the city’s roughly 1 million public school students, according to projections by the Education Department of the State.
Adams has repeatedly stated that he supports the charters. (An advocate for charter schools created a political action committee to raise funds for Adams.) And while he has indicated that he is in favor of keeping the charter cap, he has also said that charters are successful. should be duplicated while failing.
Alex Zimmerman, Christina Veiga, Reema Amin, Pooja Salhotra and Amy Zimmer contributed.