When lawmakers convene next spring to decide, yet again, whether to continue mayoral control of New York City’s schools, they’ll need to reckon with a deepening divide between voters and their local leader.
Sixty-five percent of New York City voters surveyed in the latest Quinnipiac University poll said they thought the city’s mayor should share control of local schools with other lawmakers. Just 23 percent said he should retain complete control of the city’s schools.
The results undermine de Blasio’s case for keeping mayoral control, which he will have to make again in 2017 after lawmakers decided this spring, for the second time, to extend his authority for just a year. State Senate majority leader John Flanagan led the pushback against the mayor, who had tried previously to upset his own leadership.
Now, lawmakers are on the hook to reconsider New York City’s school governance by July 30, 2017 — just weeks before the city’s mayoral primary election.
One likely flashpoint in negotiations: charter schools, the privately managed and publicly funded schools that currently educate nearly 10 percent of city students. De Blasio’s predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, championed the schools, but the current mayor has been lukewarm toward them, saying repeatedly that only some educate their fair share of needy students.
The new poll repeats earlier findings that more voters support charter schools than oppose them — although nearly two thirds said they don’t have enough information to say where de Blasio stands. In fact, more than half of voters said that if they had school-aged children, they would prefer to send them to charter schools, including 66 percent of Bronx residents surveyed.
Families for Excellent Schools, a charter advocacy group, said the poll proves that de Blasio’s approach to charter schools is not what New Yorkers want. The group also highlighted the fact that 60 percent of New Yorkers say they are not satisfied with the city’s schools.
But that figure is actually lower than the dissatisfaction rate the survey found the last two times it asked that question during Bloomberg’s final term.
The latest poll also contained some promising news for Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who posted a record-low 29 percent approval rating in May. That figure is now up to 33 percent.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that three out of four New York City voters surveyed said the mayor should share control of local schools with other lawmakers.