This week NY1 has been reporting the results of our exclusive NY1/New York Times/Siena College poll, which finds that the one problem New Yorkers most want Mayor Bill de Blasio to focus on is education. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report on how residents feel the mayor is doing so far.
After Mayor Bill de Blasio denied space to three charter schools, charter supporters held rallies, enlisted the help of the governor and spent millions of dollars on TV ads.
The PR blitz seems to be working. A NY1/New York Times/Siena poll shows that 43 percent of New Yorkers disapprove of de Blasio's handling of the charter school issue, versus 41 percent who approve, while 15 percent say they don't know or have no opinion. (The results have a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.)
Many, it seems, see charter schools as an antidote to failing public schools, as 57 percent say they're not satisfied with the quality of public schools. Just 30 percent are satisfied. (The results have a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.)
As a general proposition, 63 percent say charter schools, which operate free of many Department of Education and union regulations, are a good idea. Just 28 percent say they're a bad idea. (The results have a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.)
"To me, there seems to be a lot more good things that have come that you hear out of what's happening with charter schools, and that they're re-invigorating and bringing energy to the schoolchildren and New York City kids who needed a change in what kind of education they were getting, and the public schools weren't getting it done," said poll respondent Jennifer O'Neil.
De Blasio has placed a temporary moratorium on allowing charter schools to move into public school buildings and had planned to charge them rent.
While 56 percent of those polled say charters should be allowed to share public school space, with just 39 percent opposed, 54 percent agree with the mayor that charters should be charged rent, and 39 percent oppose that idea.
Even some of those poll respondents who side with de Blasio on the charter school issue say he’s mishandled the controversy and been outmaneuvered by charter supporters.
"I think that he missed a golden opportunity to point out why charter schools are vampires sucking out public money for, basically, a private school," said poll respondent Lee Levin.
Regardless, many just want to see the two sides lay down their swords.
"It felt like there was a bit of a vendetta between him and the people running the charter schools," said poll respondent Patrick Leroy. "I don't think it should be personal."
"It just seems silly," O'Neil said. "Like, at the end of the day, this should be for the kids. And like, why are we going to squabble about where the space is? I mean, hold hands, make it work."