Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Friday afternoon visit to a middle school after school program included being serenaded, freestyle. The mayor, joined by his wife Chirlane McCray and several City officials, visited Gramercy Park’s M.S. 255 to promote the lesser publicized part of his universal pre-K/middle school after school program initiative and urge parents and students to enroll.
Press questions were primarily “off topic,” with on topic questions covering the enrollment statistics and remaining available seats and whether legislative changes to the common core state standards will be an improvement for students, teachers and parents. Off topic questions included city enforcement efforts around Airbnb and Airbnb’s hiring of de Blasio’s campaign manager, why a proposed ban on carriage horses has taken far longer than initially promised by the mayor, Tim Wu’s comments on the mayor’s central role on defeating Wu and Zephyr Teachout in Tuesday’s primary, revised statistics on NYPD chokehold incidents, charter school co-locations, the mayor’s lack of a federal security clearance and resulting inability to receive classified information, school bus drivers movement toward a strike, his relationship with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his efforts to help elect a Democratic majority in the state senate.
On Tuesday Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an expansion of middle school summer enrichment programs, along with the selection of 271 providers for those services. He described the expanded after school programs as, together with universal pre-K and the community schools program, part of his efforts at broadly improving the school system. de Blasio was joined by Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Council Member Andrew Cohen.
On topic questions included: what defines a “community school”, whether community schools are only located in low-income neighborhoods, whether there is a plan to extend universal pre-K to three year olds, how much more expensive community schools are to operate than “regular” schools, why was the UFT not at this announcement, whether academic gains are expected from community schools and how will such gains be measured, what programs are added to “regular” schools as they are converted into “community” schools, potential changes to the admissions process for specialized high schools and whether the seats announced today are new programs or new spaces.
Off topic questions included: the ISIS in Iraq and potential threats to New York, his hair color in a World Cup themed picture, the City’s negotiations with CW Capital concerning Stuyvesant Town, whether he concerned that religion-affiliated CBO’s pre-K programs will involve some religious instruction or indoctrination, the Rent Guidelines Board and a possible rent increase, rating his administration on it’s FOIL responsiveness, whether subway dancers are a “sign of urban decay”, whether he is contemplating a special district for failing schools and whether there is symbolism is seeking to bring the Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn rather than Manhattan and whether he has coordinated that effort with Hillary Clinton.
Here is the full Q&A:
This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio held his second press conference of the day. His first press conference featured labor leaders declaring their support for de Blasio’s pre-K/after school initiative. His second press conference, held in City Hall, featured his announcement of six appointments: Bill Chong as Commissioner of Youth and Family Development, Marco A. Carrion to lead the Community Affairs Unit, Mindy Tarlow as Director of Operations, Peter Ragone as Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning, Max Sevillia to oversee federal legislative affairs and Sherif Soliman to oversee state legislative affairs.
Following his statement and statements from the appointees, de Blasio answered questions from the press. Topics included Peter Ragone’s role in the administration, de Blasio’s engagement in the city council speaker race, plans concerning his wife’s possible staff and office, Health Commissioner Tom Farley, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina’s pension and salary and Governor Cuomo’s plans to allow medical marijuana in New York. Here is his full press Q&A:
Update – Peter Ragone:
Here is Mayor de Blasio’s introduction of Peter Ragone, Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning, and Ragone’s remarks: