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The Candidates: De Blasio, Lhota Contrast Drastically On Schools

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Part 2 of "The Candidates," NY1's issues series in the race for mayor, takes a look at Bill de Blasio and Joseph Lhota's stances on education, where they seriously part ways on a number of issues, from charter schools to merit pay and even on preferences for their own children. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Classrooms are supposed to be a calm place. Running them isn't always so orderly.

The next mayor will direct policy for 1.1 million schoolkids.

Let's start where Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota agree. Both want continued mayoral control of schools. It started under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg famously banned cell phones from schools. Both think students should be able to bring them in.

Both are critical of Bloomberg's reliance on testing.

When it comes to differences, they split on merit pay and closing failing schools, but especially charter schools.

Lhota is largely for them.

"If you oppose charter schools and the programs and the choices that are available for minorities and inner-city children and children of immigrants, you cannot call yourself a progressive," Lhota said.

De Blasio isn't going to be as friendly.

"I won't favor charters the way the Bloomberg administration did, and I think that's fair," he said.

De Blasio wants to keep the number of schools as it is. He also wants to look into charging rent for some schools that use the same building as traditional schools.

Lhota thinks the number of schools should be doubled.

The candidates also have differences when it comes to where they sent their own children to school. Lhota sent his daughter to private school. De Blasio sent his kids to public school.

"I do have an understanding of what parents go through," Lhota said. "My job as mayor is to make sure that all 1.1 million children in our public school system not just get a great education, but get an excellent education."

"All I can say is, I have not heard anything from my opponent that suggests he understands what public school parents are going through," de Blasio said. "If he did, he would be more serious about the proposal for full day pre-K and for after-school programs, because I can tell you, all over the city, parents are exceedingly enthusiastic about that."

De Blasio is talking about his signature plan, pre-K for all. Lhota said he also wants that. The two candidates differ on how to pay for it, which will be the subject of our next report.

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