NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The de Blasio administration is furiously backpedaling on several hot-button education issues that have upset elected officials and parents right before the start of school.
They ran around a playground, took batting practice and bought ice cream. New York City kids got their last licks in Tuesday before the start of school.
This as the man who sets education policy in this town, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had been vacationing in red rock country out west, was taking a licking on several education issues, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.
"It's hard to show leadership in New York City when you're hiking in the mountains in Nevada," said City Councilman Mark Treyger, D-Brooklyn. "There's work to do here."
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Treyger, the council's education chairman, slammed the mayor and his schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, for ignoring repeated requests for thorough lead testing in schools -- not only classrooms, which are being remediated, but libraries, bathrooms, gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, stairwells and resource rooms.
"He is in no position to diminish this threat, He has a very questionable record on lead in New York City. And after what we just endured with NYCHA, this is unacceptable," Treyger said of the mayor.
Also roiling the education waters is a proposal by the mayor's panel on educational diversity to place a moratorium on programs for Gifted and Talented students. There was outrage Tuesday as the council's Black, Latino and Asian caucus came out against the move.
"I thought it was a mistake. I thought it was ludicrous," said Councilman I. Daneek Miller, D-Queens.
Miller said the city can do two things at once, provide quality education for all, plus have Gifted and Talented programs.
"We can walk and chew gum at the same time," Miller said.
Under fire, the mayor backpedaled, with a spokesperson saying, "There will be no changes to the Gifted and Talented programs students are enrolled in this year."
Carranza toed the party line during a radio interview, saying on WNYC, "I just want to assure our public that we are going to look at with a very critical lens what is it we're doing for our gifted students. But that's not going to happen tomorrow. It's not gonna end the program this year."
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Many parents want to see the programs continue.
"I think that some of the children need it," said Lourdess Vasquez of lower Manhattan. "I don't think it should be eliminated, absolutely not."
"I would love to see more programs and I would love to see kids getting the help they need to get into the programs," another parent added.
So the rug won't be pulled out from under any students now in a Gifted and Talented program this year. And on the lead, more backpedaling. On Tuesday evening, the city agreeing to test libraries and cafeterias. Councilman Treyger said he's worried that there's no timeline for the testing and he still wants all the common areas tested.
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