Democratic candidate Eric Adams handily won Tuesday’s municipal election in New York City, placing him at the center of a pivotal moment in education.
Adams will take over amid a pandemic, as the city’s education department continues to assess the damage from three disrupted school years. It could influence much contested policies on gifted programs, student immunization mandates, and policing in schools.
Under the mayor’s control, Adams will have significant power over the nation’s largest school system. But will Adams tightly dictate school policy – as Mayor Bill de Blasio has tried to do – or will he delegate to his chancellor? The charismatic Brooklyn Borough President and former police officer will have a lot to do: strengthen security, create more affordable housing and improve the city’s economy. (Although the mayor’s control expires in 2022, he would likely put pressure on the state to extend it.)
With regard to his educational priorities, Adams often spoke of extending the notion of K-12 education to “birth to profession” or “cradle to career,” as he said. sometimes says so. He is a proponent of vocational and technical education, and as someone facing academic challenges due to a learning disability, he often talks about improving the system for children with learning differences, in particular by increasing the screening tools for dyslexia.
But overall, he detailed few details in his campaign education platform.
This could indicate that he might be more willing to follow the lead of the education department than de Blasio, whose rigor with school decisions during the pandemic contributed to an exodus of high education department employees. level last school year, according to insiders.
Many political observers have speculated that Adams would call on his trusted adviser, David Banks, as the next chancellor. Banks is the founding principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first in a network of boys-only public schools in New York and New Jersey. Banks is also a mentor to current Chancellor Meisha Porter, who may end up staying in her role.
Here is Adams’ position on some school issues:
Vaccines for students
While children between the ages of 5 and 11 are eligible for the COVID vaccine, questions arise as to whether New York City will make vaccination mandatory for students.
Adams said he supported a vaccination mandate for students, unlike de Blasio, who expressed concern that a mandate would deter some children from going to school.
Adams also said he was “open” to a remote option for families of unvaccinated children.
Gifted and talented programs and specialized high schools
New York City’s gifted and talented curriculum, which serves approximately 2,500 kindergarten students per year, is being revamped. The program’s entry ticket has long been based on a single test for 4-year-olds that is often seen as creating a barrier for black and Latino students to secure places – much like the city’s specialized high schools.
De Blasio recently said he plans to transform the gifted and talented program by getting rid of the controversial test, implementing ‘accelerated learning’ for all students in Kindergarten to Grade 2, and then examining all students. third-year incoming for subject-specific crash courses.
Adams said he supports expanding the program in one way or another to increase opportunities. But he also said he would rethink the admission test.
“I don’t think a 4-year-old who takes the exam should determine the rest of their school experience,” he said in a recent debate. “This is unacceptable.”
As for the city’s specialty high school exam, Adams said he won’t be removing it. He said the state must determine the fate of SHSAT, which is mandated by state law.
Child care, after school and extended school day
Adams is supporting a longer school day or school year, and he has expressed support for schools to be open year round with services for students and families. He called himself a “big believer” in opening school buildings beyond the normal day, pointing to a $ 2 million pilot program he supported to provide space for community organizations in school buildings . He said he would expand this program, which will allow nonprofits to offer after-school opportunities like sports, especially in underserved areas.
“Because when you really think about cost, renting space, using space – it’s really one of the most important parts of actually having overhead,” a- he previously told Chalkbeat.
Police in schools
As school districts across the country rethink their approach to policing in schools, New York City is lagging behind. De Blasio has vowed to transfer oversight of school safety officers from the NYPD to the education department by June – when he will no longer be in office.
Adams, however, said he preferred to keep school security officers under police control.
“We need to have school safety officers who are trained, well paid, and excellent at conflict resolution,” Adams said at a recent WPIX11 Mayors Forum.
He also said he wanted students to have a say in their schools’ overall safety plan and that he would create a “public safety stakeholder committee” made up of parents, students and children. educators to get feedback on things like metal detectors.
The charter school sector now serves around 13% of the city’s public school students. Although charter schools were not a central part of Adams’ education plan, he has repeatedly indicated his support for them.
And while he has indicated that he is in favor of maintaining the cap on charters, he also said that successful charters should be duplicated while those that fail are closed.
Plans for the most vulnerable students
For students with disabilities, Adams said he would prioritize real-time tracking to measure which students are not receiving all of their services so these situations can be dealt with quickly. It supports universal dyslexia screening and said it will hire more bilingual special education teachers to address chronic shortages of disabled English learners.
For foster children, who are among the most vulnerable in the system, Adams said he would develop a mentoring program while investing in employment programs for older students.
Christina Veiga, Pooja Salhotra, Alex Zimmerman and Reema Amin contributed.