Why Syracuse Teachers Association will interview only 3 of the 4 candidates running for mayor

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - In her focus on education, Republican candidate for Mayor of Syracuse and former LaFayette Schools Superintendent Laura Lavine is taking on her opponents and the Syracuse Teachers Association.

She says she was uninvited to interview with the union as they consider which candidate to endorse.

“By refusing to even consider Mayoral control of schools, the union leadership does a disservice to the students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers who deserve a dramatic change in the performance of Syracuse City schools,” Lavine says.

Syracuse Teachers Association President Megan Root disagrees with that, claiming Lavine wasn't uninvited, but was never invited to begin with.

The reason: her proposed "mayoral control" of the Syracuse City School District.

If elected, Lavine says she will keep Superintendent Jaime Alicea, but replace and appoint new school board members. She adds the decisions will be with consent of the Syracuse Common Council.

In major cities like New York, supporters credit mayoral control for increased graduation rates and test scores. Lavine says it will allow her to prioritize improvements to safety for teachers and students. 

Root says, "There's really not a provable link that mayoral control influences student performance at all and, in fact, it often hurts the students, because you take the Board of Education away from being a democratically elected body. The people in the city or the district, don't have that direct voice."

The union has interviewed the other three candidates: Independent Ben Walsh, Democrat Juanita Perez Williams and Green Party Candidate Howie Hawkins. Members will decide who they'll endorse, if anybody, on Monday.

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