The Fight’s On: Rhee, Klein, and Moskowitz Team Up in New York

In what might be the quote of the day (if not year), Geoffrey Canada tells Anna Phillips of the New York Times that,

Folks are genuinely looking for opportunities to make peace and not war….  And I think that’s terrific. But someone has to make war.

Who better to lead the troops than Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and Eva Moskowitz, three of the most aggressive education reformers of the last decade, or, if you prefer, as Phillips has it, “some of the most well-known and polarizing figures in public education.”

A triumvirate of kumbaya they are not.

And what they have now done is form a group that intends to raise $10 million annually for the next five years to lobby the New York State legislature to protect the reform initiatives launched by Klein and his mayoral boss Michael Bloomberg in New York City, promote reform throughout the state, and, as Phillips writes,

…neutralize the might of the teachers’ unions, whose money, endorsements and get-out-the-vote efforts have swung many close elections.

Bloomberg’s third (and this time final) term expires at the end of next year. Says Phillips,

[T]he campaign is beginning while advocates of reform have an ally in the mayor. But their eyes are focused on 2014, when a new mayor—most likely one who is more sympathetic to the teachers’ union than Mr. Bloomberg has been—enters office.

In fact, the law to renew mayoral control over Gotham’s schools expires in 2015 and may pose an interesting early challenge for the group: What if, as Phillips suggests, the new mayor is not a friend of education reform?

The group, StudentsFirstNY (no webpage yet) has a bunch of hedge-funders and venture capitalists (not named by Phillips) involved and will be lead by Micah Lasher, the barely 30-year-old “magical wunderkind lobbyist,” as Gotham Schools dubbed him a couple of years ago, when Bloomberg sent him to Albany as the city’s lobbyist.

Let the games—er, battles—begin.

-Peter Meyer

This blog entry originally appeared on the Fordham Institute’s Board’s Eye View blog.

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