In all, labor groups and their key allies on education issues spent $8.3 million on political activity in 2015. Charter schools and their influential lobbying arms spent a little over $9 million, and tax credit advocates, $5.7 million, according to the lobbying and campaign finance reports.
So they're outspending us on two fronts. First, on charters, which is a great way of getting public money into private hands. They have great commercials, telling us to support the noble and principled Andrew Cuomo as he struggles to fire all those crappy unionized public school teachers. After all, the test scores are down, and that's what matters. Who cares if the tests are all new and we've set the cut scores to make everyone fail? That's not in the commercial, so no one knows it anyway.
The second front, of course, is the tax credits that will pay for John King to send his kids to a Montessori school, thus sidestepping the awful programs and tests he's imposed on everyone else. And if you want to send your kid to that school, well, that's fine as long as you can pony up the difference. This is another great way to help rich people have more money to invest, always a priority for the politicians they've bought, like Cuomo and King.
Now I've watched NYSUT and UFT celebrate for the last two year that we didn't get this tax credit/ back door voucher program. While they didn't achieve anything good, at least they've put off one bad thing for another year. Problem, of course, is that every time you cut off one reformy head, another grows in its place. Last year, for example, they didn't get the tax credits, but they did get a teacher evaluation system that's even worse than the one we have now, and we did take away the right of unions to negotiate much of it. Now that we have that, and Michael Mulgrew has thanked the Heavy Hearts Assembly for it, they can push even harder for the tax credit.
What really bothers me, though, considering that unions have spent all those millions, is that we've spent two or three of them on glitzy commercials congratulation Andrew Cuomo for coming to his senses on education. Unfortunately, it's plain that while Cuomo gives lip service to change, things are fundamentally the same. If you teach above grade 8, things haven't changed at all. And giving kids unlimited time to torture themselves with developmentally inappropriate tests was not precisely a victory either.
If you think Cuomo is a friend of education, you need look no further than his insistence that his idiotic tax cap be adhered to. Schools are allowed to raise their budgets by a whopping 0.12% this year, and no matter how high inflation gets it's capped at 2%. This comes from a man who musters the audacity to label himself a "student lobbyist." I listened to current NYSUT leaders discuss all the clever ways they'd get around the cap, and thus far they've failed to deliver, instead opting to spend member dollars telling the world what a swell guy Andy Cuomo turned out to be.
It's time for UFT and NYSUT leadership to get out of the ass-kissing, seat-at-the-table, Cuomo-praising business and start advocating for not only those of us who they ostensibly represent, but our students as well.