EXCLUSIVE: McShane Says He Supports de Blasio’s Push for Universal Pre-K

President of Fordham responds to Mayor de Blasio's first State of the City. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Fordham’s president responds to Mayor de Blasio’s first State of the City address.

Following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first State of the City address, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University, stepped forward in support of the new mayor’s push for universal pre-K, despite resistance from state Republican leaders.

“Fordham will work with [de Blasio] and his administration to realize the dream of universal pre-K education that he has put forward,” McShane told Fordham Daily.

The mayor traveled to address the state Legislature in Albany last month where he laid out plans to raise the taxes of New York City’s highest earners to pay for universal pre-K (one of his heftiest campaign platforms) — a plan that has gained widespread support throughout the city.

But state Republican leader Dean Skelos told reporters Monday that he would not allow a vote on the proposed tax hike to go to the Senate floor, saying the negative effects of the measure would be felt throughout the state.

Still, McShane spoke highly of de Blasio and his vision for the city.

In addition to the mayor’s pre-K plan, McShane endorsed de Blasio’s plans to help undocumented immigrants. “Fordham is very supportive of what the Mayor would like to do for immigrants — since the care of immigrants is such a major part of Catholic social teaching.”

In fact, he drew a parallel between de Blasio and a heavyweight within the Catholic church.

“The mayor is clearly summoning and challenging all New Yorkers to work for greater justice in ways that echo what Pope Francis has been saying,” he said. 

A spokesman for McShane conceded the president did not actually watch de Blasio’s State of the City address on Monday, though he read news reports about it.

McShane has only met de Blasio once — and that was months ago. “On that occasion, I asked him, if elected, to help the people of the Bronx,” McShane said.

It’s unclear exactly when the meeting took place or where, though McShane said the two also discussed de Blasio’s daughter, Chiara,  who has suffered from substance abuse while studying at Santa Clara University, where McShane is a trustee.