After a calm exchange between the mayor and state lawmakers Wednesday about New York City’s education system, the most powerful man in the state Senate decided to spice things up.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of showing “a disturbing lack of personal knowledge about city schools” in a sharply worded press release Thursday. His statement indicates that Senate Republicans aren’t about to make it easy for de Blasio to win long-term control over the school system, even after Wednesday’s hearing signaled that lawmakers were warming to the idea.
“He has left too many unanswered questions and failed to provide specifics on many of the issues raised by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Flanagan wrote of de Blasio. “Until that occurs, I will not entrust this Mayor with the awesome responsibility of operating the New York City school system.”
As majority leader, Flanagan is no longer a member of the Senate education committee, which he chaired last year.
The mayor was in Albany because his control of the city school system will expire in June. Last year, he asked for a permanent extension of that policy, but Senate Republicans handed him only one additional year — a decision that reflects his poor relationship with those lawmakers.
This year, most observers argue that mayoral control will be extended. Flanagan himself has previously said he does not want the city to return to its previous school governance system, where school boards held sway. But the length of the extension is still up for debate.
After Flanagan’s statements, the mayor stood by Wednesday’s testimony.
“Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña articulated a clear and compelling case for the state to grant a multi-year extension of mayoral control,” City Hall spokesman Austin Finan said.