WAKEFIELD — Cardinal Timothy Dolan sidestepped the hot-button issue of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push for a tax increase to pay for universal pre-kindergarten on Thursday, even as he stood next to the mayor to emphasize the need for the program.
“All I'm grateful for is that we’ve got leaders — Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo — who are passionate about this,” Dolan said in response to a question about his support for the tax hike. “How’s it going to be done, how it’s going to be funded, I’ll leave it up to them.”
However, Dolan and de Blasio did agree on their mutual desire to see pre-K expand in the city, with the mayor pointing to Catholic school programs as models. He said the Archdiocese has already offered up 1,700 potential seats to the city for use in September.
“The Archdiocese of New York knows a lot about how to engage our children effectively,” the mayor said.
The comments came after the mayor and Cardinal toured a pre-K classroom at the Catherine Corry Academy at the Saint Francis of Assisi School in Wakefield.
The pair walked among more than a dozen 4 and 5-year-olds working at small tables painting, counting, and learning how plants grow as Dolan and de Blasio chatted with them.
“I’m the mayor. He’s the Cardinal,” de Blasio said as he crouched down to address a precocious 4-year-old named Paris, who showed the mayor how she could count to 17.
“And I’m the kid,” Paris responded, garnering laughs from Dolan and de Blasio.
After de Blasio and Dolan moved on to the next table, a boy said with a tone of disappointment in his voice that he was hoping for a visit from a different dignitary.
“I wish President Obama came," said the boy, prompting a quick rebuttal from his teacher.
"This is next to the President," his teacher said. "That's the mayor."