HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX 11)– Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at his National Action Network on Saturday to build more support for universal full-day pre-k and expanded after school programs.
“Remember, after school is about the safety and security of our children. It’s about keeping them away from bad influences,” the mayor told the crowd.
The rally capped off a whirlwind week of the mayor pushing his agenda. On Tuesday, he led a pre-k rally in Albany. On Thursday, he was in the Bronx, visiting a pre-k classroom with Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo are at odds on how it should be funded. The mayor wants to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers while Governor Cuomo wants to use state money.
With the April 1 deadline for the state budget looming, the momentum behind the mayor’s pre-k plan is clearly picking up. So far, more than 100,000 people have signed petitions on the street and online backing the proposal, according to UPK NYC organizers.
But many of the parents who showed up at Sharpton’s Harlem headquarters were more concerned about getting their children into charter schools.
“I think it will teach my son the structure and positivity he will need to grow and succeed,” said Talisha Simmons who lives in Queens.
Mayor de Blasio has taken heat for his decision to block three charter schools from moving into space in public school buildings—an arrangement which had been approved by the Bloomberg administration.
“We know there are a lot of charters doing great work. Some others need to do a better job,” said the mayor.
“Any arrangement made around charter school students, we support,” Rev. Sharpton said, “but not at the expense of children with special needs who’ve been left out of the equation.”