Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan on Thursday for establishing year-round school and expanding early childhood education — policy proposals that echo those that vaulted his successful initial bid for City Hall in 2013.

“What I put out today is an entirely different vision of how we educate kids and support our families,” said de Blasio, speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “It will revolutionize education in the state of New York.”

While there has been lengthy speculation about de Blasio’s political future — when and if he plans to run for governor — the announcement Thursday signals an effort to burnish his legacy on education policy while keeping alive a potential bid for the state’s highest office.

The plan builds on de Blasio’s signature achievement as mayor, rolling out pre-kindergarten to 70,000 children across New York City. On MSNBC, he also said he wants to extend the school day, providing additional enrichment opportunities for elementary through high school students. And he proposed building on the city’s Summer Rising program, which offered all students for the first time last summer a mix of education and recreation programs, not just students in need of academic support.

To pay for these programs, de Blasio suggests increasing the income tax on anyone making more than $1 million dollars a year, a similar approach to what he envisioned would pay for pre-kindergarten when he was first elected in 2013. (The state ultimately funded the program without a tax increase.) 

During his press briefing, de Blasio was asked how he would defend a tax increase on New York’s wealthiest residents after the state legislature approved a tax hike on that group earlier this year.  The mayor pointed out that billionaires had prospered during the pandemic. “What I’m focused on is asking those who have done very, very well, to give a little bit more for our children,” he said.

He argued that the wealthy have traditionally been benefactors of education programs. “They actually in their hearts want to see a better educated society, they want to see opportunity,” he said. “Here’s a way to do something that would have a profound impact. But if we don’t do this, what we’re essentially doing is leaving many families to fend for themselves.”

Gothamist/WNYC reached out to the teachers union and education advocates for reaction to his  latest plans.

The rollout Thursday also signals a restart of de Blasio’s political operation. The appearance on MSNBC was not included on his public schedule for mayor and the details are posted to a relaunched version of his campaign website, which is being paid for by a statewide committee he set up earlier this year, New Yorkers for a Fair Future. It’s unclear how much the committee has raised or spent so far — the first disclosure filing is not due until January. 

What is clear is that de Blasio plans to be out campaigning to push these issues and potentially his own candidacy.

“I'm going to go around this state for sure over time,” de Blasio said, insisting his primary focus now will be promoting his education vision and how it has worked in the city. “I believe in it because we proved it here.”

Even if he does not jump in the already-crowded Democratic field for governor, de Blasio is seeking to force a conversation about the needs of public education across the state. This would also allow him to talk about his accomplishments in New York City to voters who may be less familiar with them.

Former members of his team said de Blasio should focus on finishing his term on a high note, as opposed to jumping into a challenging statewide contest right away.

“Over the past year and half, I think he’s done a good job turning around his reputation with New Yorkers,” said Olivia Lapeyrolerie, who served as a senior press advisor to the mayor in City Hall and on his unsuccessful 2020 presidential campaign. 

She also cited his success in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and his ability to generate good will among New Yorkers who were alienated when he was spending so much time in Iowa and New Hampshire. “I don’t understand why he would jeopardize these hard-earned feelings of good will for what will be an absolute uphill slog,” Lapeyrolerie added, in reference to de Blasio’s possible gubernatorial campaign.

If he does decide to parlay this education campaign into a run for governor, another former administrative official, who did not want to be identified, said he does not see how de Blasio could be successful with fellow Brooklynites already actively in the race, including state Attorney General Letitia James and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “I just don’t see a path to victory for him,” he said, noting that in previous elections where de Blasio ran as the underdog, “there weren’t the same candidates directly in his path.”

De Blasio would have a lot of ground to make up if he officially launched a run for governor. The latest poll from Siena College found de Blasio in last place, with just 6% support, in a possible five-way Democratic primary, including incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, James, and Williams. When Cuomo is left out of the equation, de Blasio bumps up to 10%.

With reporting from Elizabeth Kim