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Battle Lines Drawn As Wild Day Of Universal Pre-K Debate In Albany Looms

Mayor De Blasio, Charter Schools Set To Duke It Out, Grab State Legislature's Ear

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Thousands of people will be in Albany on Tuesday to stage competing demonstrations over New York City’s education policy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio will be rallying with those supporting his plan. Charter school groups will be there to loudly protest his plan, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

Supporters of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to tax the rich to fund universal pre-K and after-school programs demonstrated outside the Department of Education on Monday, giving a taste of what they plan to do in Albany to pressure state lawmakers to green-light the plan.

Representatives of several small charter schools were also present and plan to be at the rally where de Blasio will speak before meeting with lawmakers.

But the mayor will face a counter-demonstration of large proportions from more than 100 charter organizations furious about de Blasio’s decision to deny space in city schools to three charter schools, including one in Harlem that is the highest performing middle school in the community.

“There is an extraordinary power in families coming together to make their voice heard, and we would hope that every elected official, and that includes Mayor de Blasio, would hear us,” said Jeramiah Kittridge of the group Families For Excellent Schools. “Charter families are nervous; some are heartbroken. If you are a mom or a dad at Harlem 4 in central Harlem you’re heartbroken right now.”

The charter people intend to flex their might to the max. They said they are expecting 4,500 parents and children from nine cities across the state to pressure the Legislature to guarantee them equal treatment.

And they picked up support Monday from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who called the mayor’s decision to deny some charter permits “unconscionable.”

Kramer asked the mayor if the charter protests and Skelos’ comments, coming on the very day he is in Albany lobbying for pre-K, would muddy the waters.

“No, I don’t think anything muddies the waters. I think there’s too much of a demand for pre-K and after-school at this point for any other issue to muddy the waters,” de Blasio said.

Skelos is also said to be concerned about the mayor’s elimination of a $210 million charter construction fund.

Meanwhile, the mayor proposed a plan to build 95,000 after-school seats, which would more than double the size of the program.

It will be a very busy lobbying day in Albany.

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