The de Blasio administration is frantically trying to undo the damage the mayor has done to his popularity by launching an offensive against New York City’s charter schools, according to a New York Times report.
The Times reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio has begun making personal phone calls to prominent individuals in finance, education, and philanthropy, “explaining that he does not want to ‘destroy’ charter schools, according to several business executives who spoke with Mr. de Blasio.” The calls were intended to “acknowledge […] missteps” and assuage the concerns of those who have begun rallying against de Blasio and in defense of the charter school system.
The Mayor’s problems began early in his tenure, when he issued a “moratorium” on new permissions for charter schools, and escalated to triggering full-scale protests when de Blasio rescinded permission to use public property to three Success Academy charter schools that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had approved shortly before his term ended. Shortly after the news that the Success Academy would find themselves homeless under de Blasio, the New York Post ran a report detailing the outrage of parents that sent their children to their school, testifying that the children were “crying” and the situation with the students was “ridiculous” thanks to de Blasio’s mismanagement.
The charter school situation also caused tensions between de Blasio and fellow Democrats. The mayor’s relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo had already suffered thanks to de Blasio’s insistence on establishing a tax on individuals making more than $500,000 a year in the city to fund a universal pre-Kindergarten program. Cuomo offered to work with the legislature in Albany to fund the program, thus eliminating any reason for such a tax. Governor Cuomo did not attempt to compromise on the issue of charter schools, joining a protest against the mayor in Albany and delivering an impassioned speech in favor of keeping the charter schools open.
With pressure mounting on de Blasio, the Times reports that he is working overtime to win back allies that have been concerned his actions against charter schools have been too aggressive. Those conversations, the newspaper reports, have been “awkward” but necessary in the face of a new advertisement campaign attacking de Blasio’s charter school closings. In addition to working to end the new campaign, de Blasio “has promised to find space at another site for one of the three Success schools” to which he rescinded permission to use space.
The “conciliatory” tone the Times reports on continued in public this weekend, as de Blasio delivered a speech on education reform that aimed to build bridges to the charter school advocacy community:
De Blasio’s latest steps, particularly in light of the bad news from the latest Quinnipiac poll on his administration, depict a mayor who is deeply concerned about the repercussions of his far left-wing agenda, one that voters elected but seem to be having misgivings about. Education policy, in particular, has been a roadblock for the mayor, as the poll shows that his stances on charter schools and higher taxes to fund education experiments have diminished in popularity.