NEW YORK - Nearly a dozen heads of Brooklyn yeshivos called on state leaders to renew Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control over the city’s schools, as the legislature heads into their final week of their annual session.
The mayor’s control, first granted by the state in 2002, faces a June 30 deadline to be renewed or lost. Senate Republicans are reluctant to aid a Democratic mayor who has worked against them in previous years.
The heads of ten yeshivos penned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders “from our perspective as representatives of schools for the city’s nonpublic school population.”
“Our experience with the past and present systems has shown that there are several advantages in having authority over the [department of education] centralized in the mayor’s office: greater efficiency, greater opportunity for input, greater accountability,” read the letter, which was signed by representatives of Bobov, Belz, Mevakshei Hashem, Torah Vodaath, Skver, Pupa, Krasna and Satmar.
“The actions of the current incumbent (sic), on several fronts that are meaningful to our community … demonstrate the importance of mayoral control,” they wrote, specifying de Blasio’s relaxing how religious students can get transferred to special education suitable for their culture and easing religious groups’ access to public school facilities during non-school hours.
“While there is still much work to be done for the nonpublic school communities, and we haven’t always been pleased with the outcome,” the letter says, “we question if we could have achieved any of these gains had control over the department of education been decentralized.”
“Simply said,” concludes the letter, dated Friday and made available to Hamodia, “having the city’s educational buck stop at the mayor’s desk means that we have a clear person to turn to when policies affecting our schools and community are being developed and implemented. That is a good thing, an important thing.”
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Suffolk Republican, has made several offers to renew mayoral control, including one which would keep it going through 2023 in exchange for a private school tuition tax credit which would go directly to parents. Teachers’ unions are adamantly opposed to that.
Most of his other offers do not contain that sweetener, but deal with Flanagan’s aspiration to increase the number of charter schools.