Newly considered a frontrunner in the Democratic mayoral primary, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is taking aim at City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and he’s using her education record as ammunition.
Their dustup over after-school funding was only one of several statements that mayoral candidates made today about their plans for the city’s schools, as the pace of proposals — and re-proposals — picks up with the primary just weeks away.
Displaying a chart titled “New York City Out-of-School Time Seats Past Six Years Under Bloomberg and Quinn” at a press conference outside East Side Community High School today, de Blasio decried Quinn as complicit in recent cuts to city-funded after-school and child-care programs.
The press conference was meant to draw attention to de Blasio’s proposal to increase taxes on New Yorkers earning $500,000 or more to pay for an expansion of pre-kindergarten and after-school programs. It came a day after de Blasio attacked Quinn’s proposal to let middle-class parents take out low-interest loans to pay for child care.
Quinn’s campaign immediately fired back, charging de Blasio with being all talk.
“When it comes to providing for the youngest New Yorkers, it’s a tale of two candidates: one who delivers for our youngest New Yorkers and one who simply talks about it,” campaign spokesman Mike Morey said in a statement. “Bill de Blasio, in his entire time in government, hasn’t create one after school program or one pre-kindergarten slot for a child in New York.”
Morey argued that Quinn had actually stopped some cuts from taking place. Indeed, in an elaborate ritual enacted every June for the last several years, the City Council restored some funding for after-school and child-care programs to the budgets that Mayor Bloomberg proposed.
The de Blasio-Quinn battle was only one ring of the campaign trail’s education circus today.
Bill Thompson announced that he would move to make school lunches free to all students, in response to the city’s decision to eliminate lunch costs for some low-income students while increasing the daily rate for students whose families are not considered low-income.
And Anthony Weiner took his mother, a retired city schoolteacher, to Brooklyn Technical High School to tout his plan to improve teacher training. As we reported last week, Weiner’s second installment of policy ideas says that new learning standards known as the Common Core are being introduced in the fall, and that teachers will “receive a very short training session” this month. But the new standards — and state tests aligned to them — rolled out last year and the city says it has spent more than $100 million to train teachers on them in the past two years.