Friday, September 17, 2010

Bill Perkins and the Phantom Charter Schools Group

You know we've come a long way when a far-left publication like the Village Voice (!) is BLASTING Perkins and his union backers.  This is an AWESOME article that reveals what a lying union lackey Perkins is and what a total hoax the parent organization is that Perkins claims was the basis for his charter school show trial earlier this year:

It took Perkins almost ten minutes to answer the Voice question of whether the 20 charters in his district, serving over 7,500 children, performed better on math and reading tests than the traditional public schools, an objective fact. Perkins threw caveat after caveat at the Voice when asked about the comparison, "taking out" of the comparison the five Harlem Success Schools, suggesting that their high scores put them in a class by themselves though he has been particularly antagonistic to the expansion efforts of this celebrated network of schools. Even discounting these schools, Perkins said that "the most recent statistics don't suggest that the charters are substantially better" than other schools in his district. Asked if that meant he was conceding that they're at least better, if not "substantially better," Perkins retreated into a convoluted dodge, contending: "The point is not is one better than the other. That pits one against the other." Strange doubletalk indeed from the senator who has led the fight against schools he appears to believe are outperforming the traditional schools whose interests he defends.

Similarly, Perkins cited the success of individual traditional schools in his district and said that success "should be replicated," but when pushed about whether or not the same applied to the Harlem Success Schools, where 97 percent of third graders passed math and 89 percent passed reading in most recent, and far more stringent, state tests. With the schools still strenuously opposed by the teachers union, Perkins once again tied himself in knots. "You're looking for institutional replication," he said. "I'm looking to replicate the lessons of success, the techniques of learning," suggesting he wants to keep the bath water, but throw out the baby.

The most disingenuous Perkins tactic in his effort to confuse the charter debate is his ballyhooed endorsement of a shell organization called the New York City Charter Parent Association (NYCCPA), a group that even Perkins says only produced four or five parents at its meetings with him. The organization is neither incorporated in New York nor a registered nonprofit, both of which are legal requirements, and it is illegal for a nonprofit, as it describes itself on its website, to endorse a candidate for public office.

Perkins and the NYCCPA have claimed that Perkins called his incendiary hearing "at the request" of this organization, meaning that a senate committee sponsored an extensive public investigation at the behest of a group that doesn't legally exist in New York (NYCCPA's fiery president Mona Davids was one of the first speakers at Perkins' hearing). "I don't get into whether they're incorporated or not," Perkins told the Voice. Perkins, who insists now that "other parents as well shared concerns about charters," has been using NYCCPA as the rationale for his hearing in order to deflect attention from the real group that prodded him to beat the anti-charter drum--the union that is now at the center of his re-election campaign.

Davids indicated on the Gotham Schools blog that "we are funded by parents," though the donors page perpetually awaits updating on its website, providing no details and adding that "we don't have to tell you who's on our board," though only she and one other parent have ever been publicly named as part of the phantom organization. The organization's phone number is disconnected and neither Davids nor Marima Sanoh, the other parent identified with it, returned Voice e-mails or calls. The group held a workshop at a teacher union office, according to Crain's, but Davids has denied that it receives funding from the union, refusing, however, to specify who does fund it. Davids managed to go from championing charters to condemning them in the space of a few short months, making her the perfect vehicle for Perkins, a group whose name identifies it with charters endorsing the candidate who's most loudly bashed them.

Known for his candor, Perkins is cloaking himself instead in spin, counting on confusion as his best ally in a race to save his seat.


Bill Perkins and the Phantom Charter Schools Group


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