CHICAGO—Mayor Bill de Blasio offered a staunch defense of his position on charter schools during a seminar at the University of Chicago with his counterparts from Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago Thursday night, even as he complained that the issue had overtaken more pressing ones.
He also said his signature proposal to establish pre-kindergarten seats for every child in the city outweighs the ongoing debate over his hard stance on charters, which includes charging the wealthier ones rent.
"That discussion pales in comparison to the question, for example, on early childhood education. And until recently it was very hard to get a discussion going, a civic discussion going, on early childhood education," de Blasio said during the "Leading America's Big Cities in the 21st Century" panel moderated by Obama adviser David Axelrod. "There's no question qualitatively and impact-wise, getting early childhood education right, really making a focus on it, putting our money where our mouth is there, has a much greater multiplier effect than any other thing we can do in education."
De Blasio also dismissed the media's coverage of his charter-school fight this week, which was essentially hijacked by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who jumped to the charters' defense.
"You will not find a front-page story on the crisis of teacher retention in our city. … You'll find 100 stories on charter schools but you won't find a story about the fact that we have a great generation of teachers, they come into our schools and then we lose them in five years and that's what's holding back public education," de Blasio said.
De Blasio went on to say that he intends to "ignore the politics" around education issues, a statement which is obvious watching him this week, because he certainly ignored the politics in the charter school co-location story lost the political battle in the media to Eva Moskowitz, Andrew Cuomo and the charter school operators.
A noble and true defense of teachers and the teaching profession coming from Mayor de Blasio at last night's forum.
Alas, it will be a losing defense if de Blasio does not start fighting the political battles on education and winning them against people like Eva Moskowitz and Andrew Cuomo.