Mayor Bill de Blasio spent nearly half an hour this morning talking education on Morning Joe, where he got an earful from the show’s hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who hammered the new mayor for his allegedly antagonistic stance toward charter schools.
“I don’t understand your positions on charters,” stated Mr. Scarborough. “The waiting list is 50,000. And it’s not a bunch of rich kids from Manhattan that want to get in there, it’s some of the poorest, most disadvantaged children of colors.”
“For me, charter schools make sense because they can teach us how to make the entire public school system better. Why not expand, why not open the doors, figure out a way to let that 50,000 get into new charter schools? … We can learn from these charter schools some things that are working,” he continued.
Ms. Brzezinski further brought up Mr. de Blasio’s 16-year-old son, Dante, as she inquired about some charter co-locations recently canceled by the de Blasio administration.
“Let me ask it this way mayor: With all due respect, your son goes to–is it Brooklyn Tech? Has a $13 million endowment, it’s a highly-selective school; you’re very excited, I’m sure, that he goes there. If you found out that he wasn’t going there next year, wouldn’t you want to know what the plan was? Do you think you played this out in a way that might not have been effective?” she asked.
Mr. de Blasio insisted he had nothing against charter schools, but he is focused on the broader student population. “I’ve never been against charter schools,” he said. “I have to worry about 1.1 million kids a year. By the way, only 70,000 go to charters. But I care about those 70,000.”
Mr. de Blasio failed to persuade the skeptical hosts, however, and he was soon pressed on his hostility towards the charter movement and whether he had a personal beef with charter school leader Eva Moskowitz. (Speaking on the same program, Ms. Moskowitz extensively bashed Mr. de Blasio’s charter policy last week.)
“There is no hostility,” countered Mr. de Blasio.
“It does look like there is …” began Mr. Scarborough.
“‘Looks like’ is an important word,” Mr. de Blasio interjected with a laugh.
Mr. Scarborough closed the tense segment with an appeal to unity. “I just want to be clear: We are all for education here. We just want the city to do better and we know you [do] too,” he said.
Mr. de Blasio then dropped a quick mention of universal pre-K, which he had stressed throughout the Morning Joe interview, adding, “Let’s talk about that more.”
Additional reporting by Jill Colvin.
Watch the segment below: