Lame-duck Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed Thursday implementing year-round school statewide — funded by tax hikes on the wealthy — as he continued to tease a possible gubernatorial bid.
While he stopped short of announcing a campaign, de Blasio made the school year announcement in a video on his campaign website and an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that was not on his City Hall schedule.
Declaring he has a plan to “revolutionize education in the state of New York,” de Blasio said on MSNBC, “School for our kids all day, all year, all for free. Imagine this, that we can provide — in this state — education for kids that goes until the end of the afternoon, that goes all year round for kids and families that want it, that’s free for all. Talk about addressing all of the challenges and disparities in our society. This would be a first-in-the-nation approach.”
De Blasio’s announcement — as he once again declined to officially announce his entrance into the crowded 2022 Democratic primary — took a page from his 2013 mayoral campaign, when he promised universal pre-kindergarten backed by tax raises on the rich.
“Tax the wealthy. Revolutionize public education. Reduce Inequality,” he tweeted Thursday morning from his personal account. “Here’s my plan to provide FREE universal 3-K and pre-K, after school and full-day summer programming for all of New York’s families.”
In a three-minute video posted on a campaign site instead of his government YouTube account, the outgoing mayor announced a slew of statewide educational reforms, including instituting his signature universal pre-K and 3K statewide, extending school days to the end of the afternoon and an option for 12-month-a-year schooling.
“Every child deserves education throughout the summer, if that’s what works for them,” he said in the clip, released Wednesday. “We could lead the nation with a vision of education that can take us forward.”
Earlier this month, the mayor formed a candidate committee with the state Board of Elections.
Asked on MSNBC by host Joe Scarborough if he’s running for governor, de Blasio danced around the question, touting his “vision of change” for education policy.
“Well, I’m going to be in public service, no matter what,” he said. “But what I’m talking about now is actually a vision — a vision of change — and I’m going to be focused on getting this done because what I really think matters here is, how do we change the lives of the families of this state.”
“Right now, our schools aren’t working for a lot of people and this is true in New York, it’s true all over the country,” de Blasio added. “The school day, the school year, doesn’t fit the reality of families, and therefore middle-class people, working-class people, struggle to find a way.”
Asked when he will make the gubernatorial bid announcement, the mayor responded, “In the weeks ahead, I’ll certainly have more to say about that.”
If he were to launch the statewide bid, de Blasio would face a crowded field that would include Gov. Kathy Hochul, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and state Attorney General Letitia James, all of whom have already announced their entries into the June Democratic primary.
The Big Apple spends more than twice the national average on its public school students, and the Empire State’s spending per student exceeded all of the nation’s other 49 and the District of Columbia, according to a recent report.
De Blasio’s successor, Mayor-elect Eric Adams, has proposed “expanding learning options” for New York City public school students during the summer.
This year, summer school programs were offered to all Department of Education students.