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All eyes on NYC


[This editorial originally appeared in the Jan. 16 issue of the New York Teacher.]

New York City is under a microscope.

With the city having elected its first progressive mayor in a generation, observers from both sides of the political spectrum are watching to see how Mayor de Blasio fares in implementing his vision.

Progressives want to see if the new mayor succeeds with what has been called his “new New Deal” approach of using government policy to address social problems and inequities. De Blasio has proposed, for example, to fund universal full-day prekindergarten through a tax on wealthy residents and to charge rent to well-off charter schools that use space in public school buildings.

If de Blasio succeeds in New York City, it could spur the election of other unapologetically progressive politicians around the country.

Conservatives are also watching the new administration in New York City, but with a sense of alarm.

In Washington, D.C., House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently attacked de Blasio and other Democratic politicians who seek to block the unfettered growth of charter schools and voucher programs.

De Blasio’s policies, Cantor said, “could devastate the growth of education opportunity” in the city.

Of course, what Cantor calls “the growth of education opportunity” is really the movement to undermine and privatize public education, and the UFT will fight any efforts to destabilize public schools.

But for people of varying political stripes, New York City under its new mayor is like a petri dish that they can watch to see if proposed progressive policies take root and thrive or wither and fail.

How well we succeed in undoing the damage from 12 years of Bloomberg is critically important for our city, schools and children. It could also serve as a model for our nation.