Nearly every major New York City mayoral candidate weighed in on education policy last night at the second of three forums hosted by the Daily News and Metro IAF at the Central Synagogue in Manhattan.
The Democratic candidates mostly stuck to positions already been laid out at earlier education forums, with Council Speaker Christine Quinn suggesting a teacher mentor program to help retain teachers in the city and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio highlighting his plan to fund universal preschool by taxing the wealthiest New Yorkers, among other ideas.
For Republican candidates Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis, it was an opportunity to make themselves known to voters, and both stood out by being the only two candidates who would not support legislation allowing charters to accept and retain a proportionate number of students with special needs or English language learners as public schools. Lhota also said he supported the co-location of public and charter schools, an issue he and City Comptroller John Liu sparred over during the debate, while adding that he would be held accountable by New Yorkers for fighting for a fair share of state education funding in Albany.
Catsimatidis was one of the few speakers who gave little in the way of substantive responses to the audience’s questions, often veering off topic by giving anecdotes from his educational background or leaning on cliches. “We are teaching our kids how to fail and that’s wrong, we have to teach our kids how to succeed,” Catsimatidis said, pausing to acknowledge the crowd’s applause with a “thank you!”