Cuomo says he wants to be more aggressive than de Blasio on pre-K

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Spin Cycle

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ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday that he plans to be more aggressive than New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in expanding prekindergarten and warned mayors can’t block the growth of charter schools.

Cuomo made the comments after speaking to the Association for a Better New York business group Friday.

“If anything, we want to be more aggressive than the mayor suggested,” Cuomo said.

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He referred to de Blasio’s plan to expand prekindergarten citywide beginning in September.

Although Cuomo has long supported prekindergarten, the issue became red hot in the state budget debate because of de Blasio. The Democrat made prekindergarten a campaign promise and a top priority in office this year, drawing strong support along the way.

Now Cuomo and the legislature promise to fully fund expansion of prekindergarten statewide.

“I don’t want just some of our state to have it,” Cuomo said. “We are one state, one family.”

But Cuomo said the city won’t get a predetermined amount. He wants to provide state funds to prekindergarten schools as they are ready to operate, anywhere in the state on a “first-come, first-served” basis.

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“I want them to have a sense of urgency,” Cuomo said Friday.

Cuomo again supported charter schools. The public schools run by innovative private entities are popular in inner cities and among wealthy conservatives, but opposed by many Democratic leaders who said they siphon students and funding from traditional schools.

De Blasio said he isn’t opposed to charter schools and that they are part of the mix to improve public education. But he said forcing “co-location” of charter schools can, in some cases, unnecessarily disrupt a traditional school building. Cuomo’s effort to “save charter schools” began after de Blasio denied three of 14 co-location applications for charter schools previously approved by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But de Blasio said he will find space for those charter school students elsewhere.

Without mentioning de Blasio, Cuomo warned a mayor can’t “de facto stop the charter movement” by denying space in city school buildings.

“The state can also do charter schools in a city,” Cuomo said.

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