Bill de Blasio, who will be sworn in as Public Advocate on New Year's Day, is pledging to lead New York City parents in a campaign to give them a greater say in how the Department of Education is run.
He told NBCNewYork, in an exclusive interview, that, if the Mayor failed to move toward giving parents a greater role in how schools are operated, "I'm going to go out in the communities and organize them so the full power of those millions of parents and family members of public school children... that full power is felt."
It sounded like a declaration of war, but de Blasio denied that, saying he didn't think he was trying "to get in the mayor's hair," but rather 'to make sure the government is working for all of the people."
He said he was suspicious of the math and reading tests that City Hall cites as proof that schools are getting better. As we have pointed out several times in this space on NBCNewYork, de Blasio has said that with teachers and principals judged basically on how youngsters score in exams, true education is often neglected.
He also noted that federal tests have much different results than the state exams used in New York. Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the State Board of Regents, has told us she is troubled by the disparity in test results and thinks we should be "raising the bar" on New York tests.
DeBlasio said he would look into whether there was enough focus on teaching and learning rather than just passing exams.
His statements seem likely to put him on a collision course with the Mayor, who has made putting the educational system under his control a basic policy issue.