Previewing Education Agenda for Re-Election Run, De Blasio Doesn't Focus on Charter Schools
Mayor Bill de Blasio offers a preview of the education agenda that he will run on in his next year's election. Notably, charter schools are not front and center in his vision.
Education, right now, is a relatively safe topic for the mayor. His universal pre-kindergarten program is firmly established, test scores are up slightly up, and the teachers' union is on his side.
13 months away from facing re-election, he has been highlighting his record and vision for the schools in a series of press conferences and speeches, like one Friday morning before business, union, and non-profit leaders.
"We should be proud of the journey that we have taken and how far we've come," de Blasio said.
Elected officials often used these breakfasts, hosted by the Association for a Better New York, to make policy announcements, but de Blasio is not expected to make major changes to his education platform in the coming months.
Instead, he's showcasing what he's begun, initiatives like computer science for all.
"This is an extraordinarily audacious goal, but it's the right goal," says de Blasio.
One topic the mayor did not mention: his relationship with charter schools.
Early in his tenure, he lost a bruising public relations battle with charter school leaders, who slammed him for denying them space in public school buildings.
Now, de Blasio generally avoids talking about charters.
It only came up Friday in the question-and-answer session with audience members.
A woman who called herself a new parent asked de Blasio about the charter option.
The mayor called charters too insignificant a portion of the school system for him to focus on.
"Let's get real about this fact: the future of the city will be determined by traditional public education. That's just a given. It's a numerical given. It's overwhelmingly true by any measure. Let's get that part of the equation right," de Blasio said. "But charters can be real partners in that."
But the number of city public school students served by charters is expanding rapidly, hitting 10 percent this year.
Most of that population is black or Hispanic, the same demographic as the voters de Blasio will need for his re-election.
Just two weeks ago, thousands of those parents rallied near the mayor's home in Brooklyn, demanding the ability to open even more schools.