September 5, 2012
Visiting schools to shake hands with students and pose with parents on the first day of school is a time-honored stop on elected officials’ public schedules.
But few of them will be pounding the pavement on Thursday. That’s because their presence is required at a different kind of political event: the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
All of the leading contenders in next year’s mayoral race have made first-day-of-school stops in the recent past. Last year, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn appeared in Inwood with United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew to celebrate their budget victory that prevented thousands of teacher layoffs.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer handed out “Back 2 Basics Guides” at several schools, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was in Fort Greene calling on parents to get more involved in their children’s education. As comptroller in 2009, Bill Thompson used the first day of school to criticize the city for increasing class sizes.
This year, all four are part of the roughly 450-member New York State delegation that will help nominate President Barack Obama for a second term Thursday evening. On Tuesday, the delegates approved the party platform, presented by Newark mayor Cory Booker, which included a hefty slate of education policy positions.
Dozens of other New York City elected officials are also part of the delegation as well, leaving few local politicians to loiter on school sidewalks on Thursday.
Mulgrew is also a delegate but he is flying home early in order to make an appearance at Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn, one of six schools receiving grants from the union and city to add more social services.
A handful of City Council members are also in Charlotte as delegates, but some of the ones who aren’t stayed local to make the rounds. Education committee chair Robert Jackson, who is running for Manhattan Borough President, will appear with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott at P.S. 194 in Harlem, a year after standing with Mulgrew and Quinn. Brooklyn’s Stephen Levin said he’ll be at two schools, P.S. 38 in Boerum Hill, and the new M.S. 8, the new P.S. 8 middle school expansion in Downtown Brooklyn.
State Senator Daniel Squadron, a rumored candidate for Public Advocate in 2013, will also be at the new P.S. 8 middle school, which will be located at George Westinghouse High School.
Comptroller John Liu, a possible mayoral candidate, is also out of town. But instead of being in North Carolina, he is concluding a tour of Taiwan and Korea, where he was advocating for New York City’s interests.
And Tom Allon, a publisher who has formally announced his mayoral bid, said he would walk one of his daughters to her public school Thursday morning. He said he has already visited several Manhattan private schools this year, including Avenues, a new for-profit school; Winston Preparatory School; and the Mandell School.
“I visit schools every week, not just on opening day,” Allon wrote in an email.