Agudah Calls to Renew NYC Mayoral Control Over Schools

Agudath Israel of America is lending its influence to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bid to keep control over New York City’s schools, which is threatened by the Senate GOP’s reluctance to aid a Democratic mayor who has worked against them in previous years.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, the group’s executive vice president, penned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to extend mayoral control before it expires next month.

“Our experience over the years has shown that having authority over the [Board of Education] centralized in the mayor’s office has resulted in greater efficiency, greater opportunity for input, greater accountability,” Rabbi Zwiebel wrote in the letter, dated Tuesday and made available to Hamodia.

He added that from his 30 years advocating for yeshivos, “I can personally attest that having City Hall’s presence ‘in the room’ when educational policy is formulated or implemented has made a real difference.”

Rabbi Zwiebel emphasized that City Hall has not always been responsive to the concerns of yeshivos, but “department officials together with representatives of the mayor’s office have always been accessible, and have given us every opportunity for meaningful consultation and input.”

“I cannot say the same with respect to the Board of Education when control was decentralized,” he said.

Wresting control over the city’s schools from the state has long been a goal for mayors. Michael Bloomberg first won control of it in 2002. But the Senate has refused to renew it under de Blasio for more than one year at a time, and are threatening this year to withhold their renewal unless de Blasio allows more charter schools to open and proves he can better take care of failing schools.