Monday, September 06, 2010

Perkins- Smikle Debate

Here's a link to the recent debate between NY State Senator Bill Perkins, who has been the biggest enemy of charter schools, and his challenger, Basil Smikle, who is a great guy and whom I'm supporting:


Here are a friend's comments on the debate:


It was really frustrating to watch the (rather lackluster) debate. Though Smikle did well, Perkins did the same thing he's been trying to do for the past few weeks, which is to paint himself as an ed reform crusader. He blatantly lied about his (and the teachers union's) role in supporting charters, positioning himself as a champion rather than an enemy. And, sadly, since the moderator was just as unskilled and weak as all the other reporters and anchors on NY1, he didn't get any pushback.


I fear that he's going to succeed in shedding his "enemy of reform" label unless a third-party IE or other type of political advocacy group plays big in that district.


I'm not working for Smikle or anything--I've never even met him--but I've just seen this time after time in NYC, when someone like Perkins cranks up the party apparatus and starts his "alternate reality" tour of lies and wishful thinking--and handily wins as a result. I'm so exhausted with the whole game, it makes me literally want to move out of the city.


Anyway, I just needed to vent after watching this debate.


While I share my friend's frustration, I think what's happening here is very telling – and is great news: the highest-profile enemy of charter schools is scrambling to distance himself from his earlier positions.  Does anyone think he's seen the light and now understands what's best for kids?  Of course not!  Instead, his change of heart (however insincere) speaks volumes about the rising power of education reformers like DFER in NY.  The message to every politician in NY is clear: it's not just that if you support reform, you'll get a lot of support, but also (and this is critical in politics) if you are an enemy of reform, there will be a steep price to pay in the form of a well-funded primary challenger, etc. n This is, of course, the carrot and stick that the unions have always had, but which we now possess as well.  This is cause for celebration!

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