The comment may have come at a mayoral forum four months ago, but that mattered little to critics who saw it for the first time on social media this weekend.
After a video of Eric Adams extolling remote learning began making the rounds online, his opponents pounced, and Adams did some backtracking.
In the clip, taken from a mayoral forum held by the Citizens Budget Commission in February, Adams says, “By using the new technology of remote learning, you don’t need children to be in a school building with a number of teachers. It’s just the opposite. You could have one great teacher that’s in one of our specialized high schools to teach three- to four hundred students who are struggling in math.”
Maya Wiley assailed Adams at a news conference Sunday.
“Four hundred kids online, one teacher, and math? We were struggling with my 17-year-old who was in high-level math before COVID, struggling trying to keep up with math online. I’m sorry, it doesn’t work,” she said. “Eric Adams, what did we not understand?”
Adams attended an event in Queens denouncing the attack in Canada last weekend that killed four members of a Muslim family. Speaking to reporters afterward, he defended himself.
“I fought to end remote learning and put children back in schools. I’m a believer in that. We need that human contact,” he said. “And this was an opt-in program.”
Adams’ original comment was in the context of his proposal for a full-year school year, with college seminar-style learning as one element. Despite the fact he made similar comments elsewhere, he said Sunday that he misspoke during the mayoral forum, and didn’t mean to say 300 to 400.
“We were talking about 30 to 40 children,” he said.
Andrew Yang, whose campaign also highlighted Adams' remark, spent Sunday at a rally firing up supporters, and railing against the career politicians in the race, though he didn't mention Adams by name.
“How many favors do you think some of these people owe?” he said. “Hundreds, thousands. They can’t even keep track. They’re coming out of their ears. You know who doesn’t owe anyone a damn thing? Me.”