NY Teachers Unions Pledge Millions to Fight Cuomo on Charter Schools

Image: NY Teachers Unions Pledge Millions to Fight Cuomo on Charter Schools

Monday, 24 Mar 2014 10:08 AM

By Joe Battaglia

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Teachers unions in New York are putting money where their mouths are, pledging $2.5 million to groups helping them fight Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his support of charter schools and a property tax freeze.

According to a report in the New York Post, the United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) pumped $1.3 million into the coffers of New York Communities for Change and $1.2 million into a group called Alliance for Quality Education (AQE).

Both organizations have accused Cuomo of "pay-to-play politics" when it comes to supporting the proliferation of charter schools, saying in statements that he received campaign contributions from "Wall Street billionaires" who support charter schools.

"We stand up for public schools," AQE director Billy Easton told The Post. "AQE wants to provide every child the right to a quality education."

Carl Korn, a spokesman for NYSUT, added, "The Alliance for Quality Education is a staunch ally of the union in supporting public schools."

The report comes amid Cuomo's heated feud with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over education issues. Cuomo opposes de Blasio over charter schools and the mayor’s push to hike taxes on the wealthy to pay for expanded pre-kindergarten programs.

De Blasio announced earlier this month his intention to slash funding for charter schools and revoke the co-location agreement for three charter schools. Those schools, the Success Academies run by educator Eva Moskowitz, are attended by mostly students who are black or Hispanic and have among the highest performance ratings in the state.

In response, Cuomo took the steps of the state Capitol in Albany and proclaimed at a rally, "I am committed to ensuring charter schools have the financial capacity, the physical space, and the government support to thrive and grow."

Perhaps further infuriating union lobbyists, who tend to view education as big business, Cuomo stated, "Education is about the students; students come first."

Opposing powerful teachers unions as a Democrat has long been viewed as committing political suicide, but in the case of Cuomo it has earned him kudos from some conservatives. Fox News' Greta Van Susteren wrote,  "He is obviously more interested in helping the kids than in his political future.

"The public school teachers should be spending that 2.5 million they are using to attack Gov. Cuomo on making the public schools better, not in trying to tear down someone trying to help kids," Van Susteren added.

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