Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fundraiser for NY State Senator Craig Johnson

I attended a DFER fundraiser for NY State Senator Craig Johnson last night and he deserves a HUGE shout-out for single-handedly saving charter schools in NY state (kudos to Sam Hoyt and Michael Benjamin in the Assembly, but the Dems have only a narrow majority in the Senate so Sen. Johnson was able to play an especially critical role). 


Allow me to explain.  In January, with the Race to the Top deadline only days away, Albany finally shifted into gear to consider various bills that would lift the charter cap, etc.  With states around the country passing genuine reform bills, I hoped that the legislature – with a $700 million RttT carrot dangling – might actually do something good.  Silly me… 


At the very last minute, Assembly and Senate leaders Silver and Sampson (both Dems of course) did the bidding of the UFT and NYSUT and pushed a bill HARD that would indeed have raised the cap – but was larded up with so many poison pills that it would have destroyed the NYS charter movement (it would have forbid charter schools from applying for charters – they could only apply when the state ed department decided a charter was needed and put out an RFP; it would have stripped NYC's (i.e., Bloomberg and Klein's) ability to grant charters; it would have made it nearly impossible for charters to share space with zoned schools, and so on…).


Sen. Johnson was under ENORMOUS pressure, but he refused to cave (had he done so, the bill would have passed and likely become law).  It's so ironic that a senator from Long Island without a single charter school in his district would stand up on principle (at huge political cost) on behalf of kids who aren't even in his district, while gutless sell-outs like Sen. Bill Perkins (see: gleefully throw children in their district under the bus. 


What could possibly explain this?  Money, job, power and politics – especially racial politics.  It's sickening…


DFER helped Sen. Johnson get elected and our confidence in him has paid off BIG TIME.  He's now facing a tough re-election fight and needs our support again, so if you'd like to contribute, they can do it through DFER's contribution page at:  I just donated $2,500.

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