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Casting ballots a final exam for two aspiring education mayors

For the two leading candidates for mayor, voting this morning was something of a final exam — even though neither cast his vote at a school.

“I feel like I’m taking a standardized test,” Democrat Bill de Blasio said as he filled out the ballot at a library near his home in Park Slope. (De Blasio has pledged to “put the standardized testing machine in reverse” if he’s elected.)

In Brooklyn Heights, Republican Joe Lhota cast his ballot at the polling site at Congregation Mount Sinai. He said he was “very optimistic” about the election results, which are projected to have him losing to de Blasio by a potentially historic margin.

About half of the city’s 1,239 polling sites are housed in schools, which is why classes are canceled today for students. Some schools are holding Election Day fundraisers, while a few charter schools are open as usual. And as is the network’s tradition, Democracy Prep charter schools dispersed students to get out the vote as part of their civic education.

At polling sites in and out of schools, many voters said education was on their minds. In Brooklyn Heights, local residents Leana and Jonathan Kaufman said they didn’t know that Republican candidate Joe Lhota lived in their neighborhood and were surprised to join him at the polling site this morning. They didn’t vote for him, though.

“We know de Blasio is focused on preschool education and we’re encouraged by that,” Leana Kaufman said, referring to de Blasio’s proposal to raise taxes on New Yorkers earning over $500,000 a year to pay for universal prekindergarten.

Her husband said he had been happy to vote for “anybody but Bloomberg” after hearing about his brother and sister-in-law’s negative experiences as city teachers under the Bloomberg administration.

Meanwhile, in Park Slope, de Blasio shot down rumors that he would consider making American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten his chancellor. “I have never had that conversation with anyone,” he told reporters.

Geoff Decker contributed reporting.

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