New York’s state budget, announced Saturday, will give $300 million for pre-kindergarten in the New York City; although Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tax hike on the wealthy was not approved, he will still get most of the funding he needs to provide full-day pre-school to 70,000 four-years olds in the city.
While de Blasio scored a win with universal preschool, he did not fair as well with charter schools. The new budget forbids the city from charging charter schools rent; a big talking point in de Blasio’s run for mayor. The legislation requires the city to either house charter schools inside public school buildings or pay much of the cost to house them in private spaces.
- Additionally, legislation was passed so student performance on the state's new Common Core assessment won't be tied to grade promotion. Standardized tests will also be banned in the earlier grades, such as pre-K.
Although de Blasio is publicly looking at the budget as a win — given his goal of universal pre-K — the charter school protections can be viewed as a major setback and a question of his control of the city. More than a decade ago, the state granted his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, full control of education. Now de Blasio is struggling to push his education agenda forward.
As education historian Diane Ravitch said, “This is a land grab, a power grab. They loved mayoral control when it was Mayor Bloomberg, but now it’s a progressive mayor, and they’re gutting it.”
De Blasio aside, the charter protections also have critics questioning what will become of the city’s school system. Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, believes the partiality towards charter schools is hurting traditional public school students. “They can’t be second-class citizens in their own school system,” he said.
While de Blasio’s main agenda had been universal pre-K, he opened the charter school conversation when, a few months back, he did not approve the co-locations of three charter schools in the city. Although he approved many others, the three he did not approve set off a fiery back-and-forth on the place for charters in the city. As the question made its way to Albany for the budget talks, charter school advocates organized a multimillion-dollar campaign, protesting in front of the capitol — all moves that potentially influenced the legislators’ decisions.