De Blasio hears from parent bloggers about universal pre-k

HOST INTRO: Mayor Bill DeBlasio swept into office last November promising to provide universal pre-K. And he’s pushed the issue particularly hard this week. On Tuesday he rallied support in Albany. Two days later he discussed the issue at a public forum with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.  Today he capped his whirlwind week at City Hall, where he met with bloggers and parents to chat about his signature initiative. Rachel Vianna reports.

De Blasio wants to fund universal pre-K with a tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers. The most vocal opponent of de Blasio’s plan has been a fellow Democrat, Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo says he can raise the money needed for statewide pre-K with existing funds in the state budget. But de Blasio says that won’t work because it might not be enough funding for his goal to add 41,000 full-day pre-k seats in two years.

That conflict has been raging for months, but it crested earlier this week when de Blasio visited Albany to promote his pre-K plan. Cuomo attended a competing Albany rally held by charter school leader Eva Moskowitz, a prominent political adversary of de Blasio. Many saw the move as an act of political gamesmanship.

And that’s what brings us to City Hall this afternoon, where de Blasio spoke with parent bloggers about universal pre-K and after-school programs.

Both de Blasio and Cuomo agree on how they want to improve education in New York. But critics say de Blasio’ s goal might be a bit too ambitious. For some parents like Adam Cohen, the way the program will be funded is not a priority.

COHEN: The funding is just funding….they push money around and, yeah should we care? Yes. Should it come out of taxpayers? Yes, it will come out of taxpayers. Should it come out of the federal government grants? Absolutely. But we should also be very well aware that this is the betterment of our children.

Matt Schneider from the NYC Dads blog says that some parents don’t care about the politics but they aren’t sure that de Blasio has a handle on the logistics.

SCHNEIDER: There is a lot of logistics that have to be worked out. It’s nice to say that every child will have the opportunity but when you look at nyc and look at the overcrowded schools and look at the number of teachers we would need to fulfill these spots, it’s not something that will happen immediately by September.

Lance Somerfeld, co-founder of NYC Dads blog says that at the end of the day, what is important is that an agreement is reached. Rachel Vianna, Columbia Radio News.

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