Unions want full control of schools and our kids — we can’t let Albany allow it

Twenty-one years after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrested control of the largest school district in the country from the grip of the teachers unions, Mayor Adams, despite his best efforts, could lose control of New York City’s 1,800 public schools.

The teachers unions have much on the line, aiming to kill any vestige of academic standards, including testing and screens, and enforce small class sizes, which will remove precious seats from some of the most coveted schools and increase union dues by the forced hiring of more teachers.

Mayoral control is an imperfect solution to managing the city’s public schools.

But it streamlines accountability, reducing the bloat and corruption that was endemic when school boards ran our schools.

Education historian and teachers-union ally Diane Ravitch underscored that when she said, as Education Week summarized, “The hybrid system made it difficult for an education leader to advance an agenda and for residents to establish a clear line of responsibility for educational failure.”

Under mayoral control, the mayor is also responsible for appointing the schools chancellor.

The Mayor Adams-Chancellor David Banks administration has been formidable in putting literacy front and center, joining the science-of-reading movement.

They have methodically removed the failed Lucy Calkins reading curriculum that led to scores of illiterate children under the teachers unions’ auspices.

If this is their only success (it isn’t), mayoral control still is a net win for our city’s public-school kids.

And let us not forget that just four years ago, while New York City closed its schools due to COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio, one of our most unpopular mayors, played hardball with the United Federation of Teachers and managed to reopen our schools Sept. 28, 2020, however imperfectly.

Other nationwide districts controlled by progressive school boards stacked with union-backed board members, such as San Francisco and Oakland, did not reopen until spring or summer 2021, leaving children in remote “school” hell and parents scrambling for long-term daycare options.

And even during de Blasio’s tenure, there was always a direct line of accountability — the mayor was the face of school closures and school reopenings.

Parents unsuccessful at getting their voices heard were able to sue the mayor and the city to ensure remote school would not be offered as an option the following fall.

What happens if the performative and corrupt community education councils gain control of our schools?

Who could ever believe they would take on the UFT, as de Blasio (sort of) did?

This applies on other issues affecting the city’s 900,000 public-school students.

Many of our CECs, de facto school boards, have proved inept at best, racist and antisemitic at worst.

Look at Brooklyn’s CEC 14, which does not tolerate any dissent among other parents and has repeatedly violated open-meeting laws, keeping registrants with diverse opinions from meetings.

With the New York City Democratic Socialists of America and Teachers Unite, it incited high schoolers to walk out after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, chanting antisemitic slogans including “F–k the Jews.”

Four years after the prolonged, union-orchestrated closures of our city’s schools, the unions want to regain control and “reimagine” public schools as “Community Schools,” one-stop indoctrination, medicalization institutions where our children are viewed as commodities.

The unions have been working towards this moment for more than 20 years.

They want full control without oversight.

We must not let them have it.

Keep New York City schools open, responsive to parents and under mayoral control.

Natalya Murakhver is co-founder of the nonprofit Restore Childhood.

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