Cuomo.

Cuomo. | Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin

Cuomo says de Blasio must earn mayoral control

Governor Andrew Cuomo is not finished antagonizing Mayor Bill de Blasio on mayoral control of New York City's schools. 

Speaking Tuesday about de Blasio's recent criticism of the governor, Cuomo said the mayor will have to earn further extensions of mayoral control.

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"Next year we can come back, and if he does a good job, then we can say he should have more control," Cuomo said after an unrelated press conference.

That's the opposite argument from the one de Blasio put forth—that supporting mayoral control should be about the broad system of governance, not one mayor's education policies.

De Blasio got a one-year extension during this year's legislative session after advocating for permanent control of the New York City schools and then saying he would accept a three-year extension.

In the last weeks of the session, de Blasio, his senior officials and a large coalition of allies he's assembled on the topic repeatedly argued that lawmakers in Albany could disagree with his education agenda and still support mayoral control.

In a series of speeches, press conferences and emailed statements during the session, they warned of the dangers of returning to the old Board of Education system.

"This is not about your support of a particular mayor or a particular agenda," deputy mayor Richard Buery told a coalition of independent charter school leaders last month, a group that eventually threw its support behind an extension of mayoral control.

"Whether or not you agree with the policies is not the same as whether or not you agree with the principles," Dave Levin, the C.E.O. of the KIPP charter network, said last month. First lady Chirlane McCray, a large group of local business leaders and even education secretary Arne Duncan made similar arguments. 

Cuomo turned that reasoning on its head on Tuesday, saying, "A lot of people say, well, mayoral control, it depends on who the mayor is."

Few city-based legislators or educators have made that claim publicly, with one notable exception: Success Academy C.E.O. Eva Moskowitz, who is a new ally of Cuomo's and perhaps de Blasio's most stalwart critic. 

Moskowitz has called de Blasio undeserving of mayoral control in an attempt to further undermine him and in so doing, played directly into the hands of State Senate Republicans who were eager to embarrass de Blasio this session after he campaigned against them last fall. 

The idea de Blasio will have to earn further extensions by substantially improving the public school system by next year, when it will be up for another renewal, presents a serious predicament for the mayor. 

De Blasio has said the city's 94 struggling "Renewal Schools" will have at least two more years to show significant improvement. And many of his other key education initiatives, including new community schools, pre-kindergarten and expanded afterschool, are all designed to make gradual progress. It will be years before some of those programs can even be rigorously evaluated. 

That's a stark difference between de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who proposed a number of dramatic education reforms that were intended to bear fruit almost immediately.

De Blasio and his schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, have criticized the rate of change under Bloomberg as being too quick and confusing. Bloomberg initiated mayoral control over city schools in 2002, and won a hard-fought six year extension in 2009.

“The mayor’s comments from last week stand," Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for de Blasio, said in a statement Tuesday. "The accountability that comes with mayoral control means the buck stops with the mayor, and the people of this city can hold him or her responsible for student outcomes. This most recent short-term extension breaks with the consensus on every end of the education and political spectrum that mayoral control works.”

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