In mock elections throughout New York City public schools, Eric Adams’s mayoral chances may have just taken a mortal blow — even if he’s cementing his status as the actual front-runner, with a little more than a week to go before the June 22 primary.
Over the weekend, a video from February reemerged in which the Brooklyn Borough President claimed that Zoom could allow for year-round classes in the city, an idea he described as mandatory in January. He also suggested that massive class sizes could help make the idea a reality. “If you do a full-year school year by using the new technology of remote learning, you don’t need children to be in a school building with a number of teachers,” Adams said at a meeting of the Citizens Budget Commission. “It’s just the opposite. You could have one great teacher that’s in one of our specialized high schools to teach three to 400 students who are struggling in math, with the skillful way that they’re able to teach.”
It’s quite the suggestion, and one that shows how the race’s focus on public safety and policing has benefited the former NYPD officer whose proposals may be less popular on other fronts. (In addition to Mayor Bill de Blasio taking heat for holding Zoom classes on snow days, the reputation of remote learning has taken quite a hit as students prepare to wrap up the final pandemic school season.) Maya Wiley, the candidate who’s been the most willing to condemn Adams for his record on policing, held a press conference to discuss the comments from four months ago.
“Who are you talking to?” Wiley asked. “Who are you speaking with? What research were you looking at? Because I don’t understand. I don’t understand as a mother struggling with my own kids with online learning. I don’t understand as a community member hearing what my neighbors were going through, talking with folks about what they were dealing with.” Andrew Yang also weighed in with a statement: “Eric’s plan for massive, permanent online classrooms would send us backwards and be a disaster for our kids. The consequences of remote instruction have been catastrophic. We need to help our students build back and recover from last year, in-school and in-person with their teachers, counselors and friends.”
Adams responded to the criticism by claiming he misspoke, and that he actually meant 30 to 40 kids — which is well above the average classroom size in the state. “It’s silly,” he said. “This is just the season we’re in.”
The comment from Adams and a star-studded campaign event for Wiley — featuring appearances from NYC staples including the Strokes, Dev Hynes, John Mulaney, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — largely dominated the news cycle for the first weekend of early voting. Just as this June marks the city’s first ranked-choice primary, it is also the first early-voting period in a mayoral election, which will run until June 20, two days before the election itself.