School & District Management

N.Y.C. and Boston Elect Mayors; Usher in New Schooling Eras

By Lesli A. Maxwell — November 05, 2013 2 min read
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New York City voters tonight overwhelmingly elected Democrat Bill de Blasio as their next mayor, while the Boston electorate opted for Massachusetts state Rep. Martin J. Walsh to lead their city, according to The New York Times and the Boston Globe.

Both mayors-elect will become the heads of their city’s school systems and will be charged right away with hiring new superintendents to lead the public schools. The school systems in both cities are under mayoral control.

De Blasio’s expected landslide victory over Republican opponent Joseph J. Lhota is already being viewed as a repudiation of many of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s policies over the last 12 years, including some of his more controversial education initiatives. While de Blasio, who has been the city’s public advocate, has said he would keep mayoral control over the 1.1 million-student system, he has pledged to scrap Bloomberg’s A-F grading system for schools and is not likely to be as friendly to the charter school sector as his predecessor.

In the much-tighter race in Boston, Walsh defeated John R. Connolly, a city councilor and former teacher to replace Thomas M. Menino, the city’s mayor for 20 years.

Mr. Walsh is a long-time labor organizer, but supports the lifting of an existing state cap on charter schools in Boston and has called for a longer day for the school system. Both candidates developed robust plans for the city’s schools as centerpieces of their campaigns.

The elections of de Blasio and Walsh could bode well for early-childhood education, as both men pushed hard in their campaigns for expanding access to prekindergarten in their cities. The two campaigns had something else in common: education adviser George S. Perry, Jr.

Democrats for Education Reform, which backed Connolly for mayor, called Walsh a “true advocate for education reform,” but credited their favored candidate for keeping the city’s schools such a focus of the race.

“Although we’re disappointed Boston City Councilor John Connolly—the candidate we’ve put our support behind since 2011—didn’t score a victory this time around, we’re happy Boston voters elected a strong education Democrat to office,” said Liam Kerr, the state director of DFER Massachusetts, in a statement. “And, we are confident that Mayor-elect Walsh will be an even stronger education leader due, in part, to the relentless focus John Connolly placed on the importance of education throughout the race.”

Photo credits:

Top: Bill de Blasio embraces his son Dante, left, and daughter Chiara, center, at an election night party after he was elected the first Democratic mayor of New York City in 20 years . -Kathy Willens/AP

Bottom: Newly elected Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, right, embraces his girlfriend Lorrie Higgins after addressing a crowd at a watch party on Tuesday evening in Boston. Walsh defeated Boston City Councilor John Connolly in the mayoral race. -Steven Senne/AP

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.