By Anna Di Iorio-Reyes
This past New Years’ celebrated more than just a change in date: it also welcomed a transition in leadership for New York City. On January 1st, 2022, Eric Adams became the 110th mayor of NYC, taking over from Bill de Blasio’s eight year reign.
According to an article by The New York Times, the new mayor intends to create a new image for the Democratic Party, juggling the favor of the common worker with that of the upper class. However, that’s not even scratching the surface of some of the challenges this new mayor will have to tackle. In just his first few weeks, he’s been introduced to what this city has to offer. Multiple instances of violence and an alarming surge in Omicron cases are just preludes.
As crime in the city becomes a growing concern, the Mayor has promoted his focus on public safety since his mayoral campaign. A retired police officer himself, Adams tries to remain neutral when handling the NYPD’s role in violence. In a recent interview with abc7, Mayor Adams said he’s working to assemble a police unit that is not armed with guns to help reduce gun-related violence in the city. “This is not the Anti-Crime Unit,” he said in the interview, “These officers will be in modified police uniforms, readily identified in unmarked vehicles. They’re going to do precision policing to go after those 500-600 known trigger-pullers that are producing 17% of the violence in the city.”
Crime has already become a commonplace in NYC, however Adams has made it known that his priorities lay with reversing this normality. Consequential crime in our city has risen 38.5% from January 2021, according to an article from abc7. Recent subway killings and other violent instances have forced the Mayor to act upon his promises to make New York safer. “Intervention and prevention” is a phrase the mayor uses, which embodies the implication that criminal reformation will lead to less crime.
Though it might be a diminishing item on the mayor’s list of priorities in wake of others, there’s no doubt another task is in need of tackling: the education system. Education is one of the most important factors to a city’s prosperity, which ultimately extends to that of the world. One achievement of de Blasio’s intervention with this system was his support of Universal Pre-K, providing it with funds and more resources. Yet other promises were left unfulfilled, such as the need for reducing racial inequity across NYC public schools. Issues like these are now left for Adams, who has plans of his own to improve the system. For example, he’s added vegan Fridays to NYC public school menus, which has already taken place across school cafeterias, including Beacon’s.
A notable uptick in COVID cases due to the new Omicron variant reinstates worry for the now blurry path forward for the school year. Of everything this pandemic has affected, education is one of the most consequential. For NYC public schools, last school year (2020-2021) was fully remote, which resulted in deteriorated mental states and abnormally low grades on report cards. Adams says he supports vaccine mandates in schools, in contrast to his predecessor, and concomitantly would be “open to a remote option,” which he said in a debate regarding families who want to keep their children home, according to an article by The New York Times.
Recently, there has been debate on the validity of screened and specialized high schools throughout the boroughs. Specific to specialized high schools, the SHSAT is what has caused the most controversy. The test, as many students know, is the high school equivalent to the SAT, but it may even have higher stakes. Jumping through the hoops required to receive a good score and land in one of New York City’s ‘elite’ schools is the cause of underrepresentation of minorities in those schools. Those who don’t have access to the resources that others use for a leg up, such as tutors or test prep, are usually minorities, which has caused many to rethink the concept of advanced education all together.
Although it’s an issue that involves the city, it’s up to New York State to resolve the fate of the test. Nevertheless, one thing that Adams can and wants to do is control admission into the “gifted and talented” program for primary education, which is based on a single test for four year olds. In a debate last year, the Mayor deemed the notion of the test “unacceptable”, however he still wants to increase opportunities for accelerated learning. Though the main focus of Eric Adams’ first 100 days seems to be crime prevention, time will tell what plans he has for the education system.