Dear Commons Community,
A new coalition, New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, is planning a campaign to counter StudentFirstNY, a political group that was formed earlier this year to influence public policy and to support candidates sympathetic to their ideology. StudentsFirstNY is led by the likes of Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, former school chancellors. The New York Times reports:
“Hoping that New Yorkers will think of “Romney” as a dirty word, a coalition of labor unions and liberal advocacy groups is beginning a campaign on Thursday to tie the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to defenders of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s education policies.
The coalition, New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, said it planned to highlight donors who supported both Mitt Romney and StudentsFirstNY, a political group formed as a counterweight to teachers’ unions that oppose much of Mr. Bloomberg’s education agenda.
The line of attack is somewhat selective — the StudentsFirstNY board includes several major Democratic donors, as well as several well-heeled Romney contributors — but the offensive, described in interviews this week, is a sign of the increasingly blunt gamesmanship in the continuing debate over the future of the city’s schools, a topic that is expected to be a key issue in the 2013 mayoral race.
Teachers’ unions, which are major backers of the group behind the new campaign, said they hoped to stymie some of Mr. Bloomberg’s more contentious plans, including the expanded use of teacher evaluations and charter schools. StudentsFirstNY, an offshoot of the national school-reform group founded by Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellor of Washington, was created to push back against the unions.
As part of its new campaign, called “RomneyFirst,” the union coalition planned to call on political candidates to reject contributions from StudentsFirstNY, which donates to lawmakers who share its views.”
It is unfortunate that so much money and energy will be spent on political campaign and influence peddling but it is my opinion that the likes of Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee did absolutely nothing for urban education except create toxic environments where negotiation and compromise were impossible. The environments they created in their school systems now move to a larger stage.