Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña at a 2015 appearance.

“We have to change our school system much more. I do not accept the status quo in education today. I have seen real progress. We’ve made real progress. Better graduation rates. Better test scores. I’m particularly proud that almost 70,000 kids are going to full-day pre-K now but we’ve got a lot more to do. We have to achieve 3-K in the next four years. We have to lay an even strong foundation for our children. We have to get our kids reading on grade level by third grade. We need the school system to look entirely different in the coming years. It’s come a long way but there’s much, much more to do. And that is the mission I will be most focused on. That will be the issue I put my greatest passion and energy into.”
Mayor de Blasio at his post-election media briefing, Nov. 8, 2017

Mayor de Blasio’s biggest first-term accomplishment was an education initiative: universal pre-K. But K-12 education had a much lower profile during the mayor’s first four years than it did over Michael Bloomberg’s terms in office, largely because de Blasio avoided fights with the teacher’s union and stayed away from the wholesale organizational change that his predecessor embraced not once but several times.

That could be about to change. Immediately after his resounding re-election, de Blasio named education “the issue I put my greatest passion and energy into.” Shortly before the end of the year the woman who has guided the Department of Education since early in de Blasio’s mayoralty, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, announced she would step down in mid-2018. School closures loom on the horizon as time runs out on some of the mayor’s Renewal Schools. And the mayor’s Equity and Excellence Agenda will be challenged by a governor who says he wants to know more about how school systems divvy up their funds, by a new Council education committee chair who wants to focus on the quality of school facilities, and by voices from the mayor’s base who want more aggressive action to desegregate education in New York City.

In this week’s Max & Murphy podcast, Gotham Gazette’s Ben Max and this reporter talk to Monica Disare of Chalkbeat and Eliza Shapiro from Politico about de Blasio’s 2018-2021 lesson plan.