Mayor Bill de Blasio took a five-borough victory lap Thursday for his universal pre-kindergarten program, the signature initiative of his administration.
De Blasio, accompanied by his wife Chirlane McCray, schools chancellor Carmen Fariña, and a group of council members, borough presidents and other elected officials, visited five schools, one in each borough—a first day of school tradition for mayors and chancellors.
Three of the five schools were pre-K centers, and each of the five choices carried a political message.
The mayor built treehouses out of blocks at the Sacred Heart School on Staten Island, a Catholic school with an expanded pre-K program, a recognition of the controversy over pre-K options in parochial schools. He played Simon Says in a second grade Spanish language classroom at Amber Charter School in East Harlem, an acknowledgement of his administration's battle over charter space earlier this year.
De Blasio played with linking plastic fish at Inner Force Tots, a community-based pre-K program (C.B.O.) in East New York, and reminded reporters of his goal to bring pre-K to low-income neighborhoods, a longstanding promise of his administration. He discussed sea creatures with 4-year-olds at Home Sweet Home, another pre-K C.B.O. in Flushing Meadows, a populous Queens neigbhorhood he identified earlier this year as desperately in need of more pre-K spots.
At each visit over a nine-hour tour of the five boroughs, de Blasio talked about his satisfaction with the rollout of the pre-K program, and expressed emotion at what was once a longshot campaign proposal coming to fruition.
Given all the things that could have gone wrong yesterday, they did a pretty remarkable job getting everything up and running.
Give de Blasio that.
Of course, Stringer still wants to see the contracts:
But the de Blasio administration also got a reminder from another citywide official that there was still logistical work to do on the rollout.
City comptroller Scott Stringer, who criticized the administration last week for not delivering hundreds of pre-K contracts for review, said the D.O.E. needed "to get its act together" and deliver the remainder of the contracts. Stringer's office said Thursday that their office had received 190 pre-K contracts out of over 500, and registered 105 of those contracts. Wiley Norvell, a de Blasio spokesman, disputed those figures, saying they do not account for pre-K contracts delivered to the comptroller's office by the Administration for Children's Services (A.C.S.).
De Blasio defended himself from Stringer:
De Blasio took a shot at Stringer on Thursday when asked about the comptroller's remarks, saying, "I think it's time for people who want to be constructive to work with us on solving problems and moving forward, instead of just finding criticisms for no particular reason."
Stringer's got larger ambitions for the future, nailing de Blasio over the contracts helps him get his name into the papers.
In the long term, making sure the contracts are done right is important.
Given that the program didn't exist last year and had to be created from scratch after the funding was finally secured in the spring, Stringer's insistence that all the contracts should have been handed over to him before the first day of school was absurd.
He's just looking to make political points here.
I do not think Stringer is being so illogical here. I worked for a CBO in a UPK class 3 years ago. The DOE gave the money to the CBO to find a rented space and for resources in short notice. The rented space was not up to code with wires hanging from ceiling and walls, bathroom fixtures on the floor and not hung up, dust everywhere, cubbies blocking the unsafe zones.ReplyDelete
After a week, the dept of health (an anonymous call, most likely, but not confirmed) came into the space and inspected. They shut down the site and I was teaching on the floor of a public school cafeteria for 3 days. The class gets temporarily moved to a new site while the real site is fixed up.
I ended up leaving after 23 days because this was too much drama for me, also specifically because there were oodles of problems that the CBO did not do and became my problem. I became the admin, secretary, teacher and nurse all on 1 site and working from 8-3 with no break. There were only 2 staff members from this CBO on site which is actually against regulations. Prek classes are supposed to have 2 teachers in a classroom. Workers are supposed to have a break.
This was a recipe for disaster from the beginning,.
I am pro-early childhood and 100% support De Blasio's pre k expansion but I also support safety and making sure it is done right, and this is coming from first hand experience.
The Regents Chancellor said she wouldn't expect 100% of the contracts to be handed over to the comptroller before the start of the school year in the first year of the program.Delete
and here is another example why contracts need to be reviewed thoroughly.Delete
Kindergarten class gets bumped to cafeteria to make room for UPK
I support the comptroller reviewing all of this. I think it is important..Delete
Most of these CBOS will do whatever they can to grab the money for these UPK classes. I assure you, some of these places, parents would not want their kids to be in at all.
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