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New York City: Why Robert Jackson Should Be Elected to the State Senate

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Robert Jackson is a great champion for public schools. He is running for State Senate in District 13 in New York City. In this post, parent activist Tory Frye explains why you should help him, work for him, and vote for him. Tory Frye is long-time public school parent activist in Upper Manhattan who served as an elected parent member of Community Education Council in District 6 and two School Leadership Teams. Robert Jackson is running for the Democratic nomination this tomorrow, September 13, in NY Senate District 31, which includes parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights. The New York Daily News reported just today that one of his opponents in the Democratic primary has received more than $100,000 from hedge fund managers who are Republicans and who support more charters. Isn’t it amazing that som many wealthy people, who don’t send their children to public schools, are so deeply committed to privatizing the public schools?

Tory Frye writes:


For weeks I have been getting glossy brochures from Micah Lasher who us running for NY State Senate. These tout his devotion to public education, in particular his aversion to high stakes standardized testing and his desire to direct money owed by New York State to NYC public school students.

Here’s the thing; actually it’s two things.

First, the whole reason the state owes NYC public school students money is because his opponent in this senate race, ROBERT JACKSON, led the lawsuit in the 1990s (!!!) that established that the state was denying our kids the money they needed to get a decent public education. The settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity established that the state owed our children billions; in fact, New York state STILL owes city students 2.2 (maybe 3) BILLION dollars! And it is all because Robert Jackson sued the State back then.

Second, Micah Lasher built his career promoting policies that totally UNDERMINE public education in NYC! He was the chief lobbyist for Joel Klein at the NYC Department of Education and then for Mayor Bloomberg when their approach to improving education included: 1) closing schools (labeling them and their students “failures”); 2) using standardized tests to hold children back and evaluate/fire teachers (despite ZERO evidence of efficacy); 3) cutting school budgets and threatening teacher lay-offs; 4) co-locating charter schools with public schools (using a flawed formula for space allocation that had students getting services in closets and hallways) and 5) pushing for a version of mayoral control over our schools that vested all power in one man, Mayor Bloomberg, and none for parents or community members

Lasher then went on to lead StudentsFirstNY, the state affiliate of a national organization (started by none other than Michelle Rhee) that sought to increase the numbers of charter schools, demand space in already crowded public schools, evaluate teachers, students and schools primarily by means of standardized test scores and all sort of corporate education “reforms” that act only to undermine actual public schools and open the “industry” to privatization.

And Lasher has left ALL of this off his campaign literature. Indeed, he has scrubbed any mention of his year running StudentsFirstNY as its first executive director from his biography in LinkedIn.

And what was Robert Jackson doing during these five years? What was he speaking out for ALL that time? Well, I went through my District 6 public school records and my Facebook feed and can attest to the fact that Robert Jackson stood by and actively advocated on behalf of Washington Heights and Inwood public schools – but more importantly for all NYC public school students and families; for example:

• June 2011: fighting against Mayor Bloomberg’s threatened school-based budget cuts and teacher lay-offs.

• June 2012: addressing and trying to limit the damage done by high-stakes standardized testing

• October 2012: fighting Bloomberg’s plan to close PS 132, the Juan Pablo Duarte school in District 6.

• May 2013: advocating for protections of student data, including private health and disability information, that would have been sold and monetized via inBloom.

• June 2013: questioning why the Bloomberg administration was pushing to remove school attendance zones in District 6, a nearly 100 block district, making it likely that many parents would no longer have a neighborhood public school within walking distance that their children had a right to attend;

• May 2014: demanding that the Mother Cabrini Educational Complex be rented to house Mott Hall, the ONLY middle school for gifted students in District 6 currently occupying a dilapidated and antiquated building.

• June 2014: demanding that the DOE remove trailers from PS 48 in District 6.

• October 2014: educating parents about their children’s constitutional rights to a sound, basic education including equitable funding and smaller classes.

In short, Robert Jackson has been a strong and consistent advocate for fighting with parents so that our public schools will be preserved and strengthened, while Lasher has advocated for closing them and turning them into corporate-led charters.

There is another candidate in the race, Marisol Alcantara, who also supports the expansion of charter schools and whose campaign has been funded almost exclusively from the IDC, the renegade breakaway group of Democratic Senators who consistently vote with the Republicans, allowing them to keep control of the State Senate. The Republicans running the State Senate (whose campaigns are ironically now being funded by the hedge-fund billionaires behind StudentsFirstNY) have consistently voted against fairly funding NYC public schools and voted for encouraging unlimited charter school expansion, which are already draining more than a billion dollars from the DOE budget and taking previous space from our overcrowded public schools.

The choice is clear: if you care about our public schools and our children’s right to a quality education, you must support Robert Jackson in Tuesday’s primaries.

–Tory Frye is long-time public school parent activist in in Upper Manhattan who served as an elected parent member of Community Education Council Six and two School Leadership Teams in District Six. Robert Jackson is running for the Democratic nomination this Tuesday, September 13 in NY Senate District 31, which includes parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights.

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