Mayor Bill de Blasio is declaring victory in his fight for universal pre-K. The mayor may not have won the tax hike on the rich he was seeking, but he says the money for pre-K in the state budget is enough for his administration to get the job done. Grace Rauh filed the following report.
The fight for pre-K funding may finally be over. The state budget includes $300 million a year for five years to expand pre-K in the city.
"What we’re seeing so far constitutes an extraordinary and historic step forward for New York City. It's clearly the resources we need to create full day pre-K for every child in this city. That's what we set out to do,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
But despite the celebratory tone, funding does not represent a clear win for de Blasio. He wanted to raise taxes on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for pre-K. He said repeatedly that the city's pre-K funding stream needed to be reliable and that state money was not. But on Saturday he did not express any concern about the reliability of the money.
“It's an incredible beginning, it will affect every neighborhood in this city. Tens of thousands of children and families starting this September. And we are incredibly excited about this step forward,” said de Blasio.
The state budget deal though contained bad news for de Blasio. There are new protections for charter schools including one that ties his hands when it comes to a policy proposal he wanted to enact.
The budget prohibits the mayor from charging rent to charter schools. He did not directly address the issue.
“We have to see all the details,” he said. “If Albany makes certain judgments we respect them. We’ll work with them.”
The mayor has been fighting with some charter school advocates in recent weeks over his education policies and his decision to block three charter schools from opening in public school buildings in the fall. The state budget requires the city to find space for charter schools in public school buildings or pay rent for them to open elsewhere. The mayor has been trying to smooth things over with charter school advocates recently and he is sticking with his new approach.
We want to work with every kind of school because we want to reach every child.
The state budget may force the mayor to do just that.