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De Blasio Tops New York City Primary: School Changes in the Wind?

DeBlasio_Blog.jpgBill De Blasio took first place in New York City's Democratic mayoral primary yesterday. De Blasio's education views indicate that big changes could be possible in the nation's largest school district, which is mayorally controlled.

As of this morning, it was not clear whether De Blasio, the city's public advocate, had gained more than 40 percent of votes, which would be enough to avoid a runoff election. William C. Thompson Jr. came in second place. Paper ballots counted over the next few weeks will clarify the results.

Even as Thompson was announcing that he would continue to campaign until a runoff election, De Blasio gave a victory speech around midnight last night. He invoked the memory of the attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, 12 years ago today. De Blasio's campaign played up the need to address growing inequality in the city.

Joseph J. Lhota won the city's Republican primary, which the New York Times described as "unusually spirited."

School issues have been prominent in the run up to the election in New York, where Michael Bloomberg has been mayor since 2001 (and where the schools have been under his control since 2002). Both Democratic frontrunners have called for changes to the city's schools: Both support a moratorium on school closings, smaller class sizes, and a decreased focus on standardized tests, for instance.

Here's a profile of some of DeBlasio's education stances from GothamSchools. While DeBlasio has said that the mayor should continue to appoint the majority of the Panel for Educational Policy (or PEP) members, he's spoken against other policies currently in place. He says that charter schools should not be expanded and should not receive free rent for buildings, for instance. He's also spoken out against standardized testing and the system of awarding schools grades. (All this should go over well with a prominent Brooklyn-based critic of many of Bloomberg'S policies, who is profiled in the Times this morning.)

De Blasio has also said he would bring universal pre-K to the city, by raising taxes on those earning more than $500,000 per year.

Thompson says he supports the expansion of the charter sector but also says that schools within geographic areas need to coordinate more. He's also opposed to standardized testing and school grades.

Lhota, on the other hand, supports the expansion of charter schools and is for merit pay for teachers.

The general election is November 5.

Photo: New York City Democratic Mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio dances on stage after addressing supporters at his election headquarters after polls closed in the city's primary election on Sept. 10.
--Kathy Willens/AP

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