New York City's outgoing Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled an education plan on Thursday for all-expenses-paid, all-day, year-round education in New York state.
"School for our kids all day, all year, all for free," de Blasio said on MSNBC. "Talk about addressing all of the challenges and disparities in our society. ... This will be a first in the nation approach." The plan backs universal pre-K, a provision also included in congressional Democrats' nearly $2 trillion social spending bill.
The proposed addition of after-school and summer education programs comes as de Blasio reportedly prepares to run for New York governor in 2022. When asked by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough whether he planned on running, though, de Blasio demurred.
"I'm going to be in public service no matter what," de Blasio said. "In the weeks ahead, I'll certainly have more to say about that."
New York ranks 16th in education among states, according to U.S. News & World Report. In October, de Blasio moved to end New York City's prestigious "gifted and talented" school programs, a major concession to "antiracist" activists who say advanced-learning education inhibits racial equity.
"The era of judging four-year-olds based on a single test is over," de Blasio said at the time.
One organization, New Yorkers for Racially Just Public Schools, applauded the decision, going as far as to call the advanced-learning programs a "tool of segregation."
Mayor-elect Eric Adams opposed de Blasio's decision and has promised to expand "gifted and talented" programs in the city.
The estimated cost of de Blasio's plan would add $5.4 billion annually to the state's education budget. He has touted it as a way to "reduce inequality" and said it would be paid for by "tax[ing] the wealthy."
"We will increase the state's income tax for everyone making over a million dollars," the plan says, "and new brackets for the highest earners to make sure those who can afford it most give ALL New York's children and families a shot at success while reducing the outrageous levels of inequality in our state."
The plan also appears to paper over reductions to the city's law enforcement budget. "When kids have reliable after school programming, they're less likely to commit crimes," the plan says. The mayor cut the city's police budget in June 2020 by $1 billion.