HARLEM— As they brought their kids back to school for the first day of school, Harlem parents said they were thinking about the future of public schools as the city prepares to elect a new mayor.
"I went to public school and I'm glad my son is going," said Lamar Mitchell, 33, as he brought his son Lynden, 4, home from his first day of Pre-K at P.S. 76 A. Phillip Randolph.
"The teachers are good, the classes are small and he'll get the attention he deserves."
Mitchell said he wants his son to be exposed to kids of different backgrounds and incomes and that the teachers need more support.
"Pay them the money so they can feel good about their jobs," said Mitchell.
Lynden spent part of his first day drawing and making art.
"I'm excited by my new friends," he said while sporting a crisp haircut and wearing his art project, a cutout of a pair of paper hands, around his neck.
Malcolm Hansen, 44, a graduate student, said it was his 3-year-old son Wren's first day of Pre-K at P.S. 125 Ralph Bunche Elementary on 123rd Street in Harlem.
Hansen said his goals this year for his son include "socialization is the big thing and developing confidence, interacting with other kids."
But Hansen said he wants the next chancellor and mayor to focus on the budget and increased help is there for low-income children.
"They should maintain free lunch and other types of programs to help low income kids," said Hansen.
Wren, like his dad, also had his mind on the big picture.
Asked what he liked about his first day of school, Wren, wearing a backpack, said "everything," before clarifying "almost everything."