In the last four years, they have gotten a lifting of the charter cap, teacher evaluations tied to test scores, and a new teacher evaluation system that essentially undercuts both seniority and tenure as all it takes to get fired these days is to come up "ineffective" on your test-based, error-riddled value-added measurement two years in a row.
They have pushed to have many public schools closed and reopened as privately-managed charter schools and have gotten reassurance at that project from both federal and city officials.
They have gotten space for their privately-managed charter schools in traditional public schools buildings, stealing both resources and students from public schools and pitting people in the community against each other
Politicians at every level - from President Obama to Governor Cuomo to Mayor Bloomberg - slam teachers as THE problem in public education and call for ways to make it easier to fire "bad teachers."
Films come out, heavily financed by computer monopolists and right wing think tanks, that suggest firing teachers can put the United States back on top as the world's #1 Superpower. The rest of the corporate media follows suit, with NBC giving over a week every year to teacher bashing (and financing that week off the money from a for-profit college) and Oprah bringing noted teacher bashers onto her show to call for mass teacher firings around the country.
And of course they have pushed through an untested new national curriculum that will be tied to dozens of new standardized tests that students across the country will take all every year.
These have been very heady days for the corporation education reformers both in New York and in the country at large.
And yet, they are worried that once Mayor Bloomberg leaves office in 2014 that the New York City public school system will not be "pro-reform" enough.
You see, having closed three hundred schools, opened hundreds of new small schools, lifted the charter cap, sent thousands of teachers to the ATR pool, redone the curriculum so that we now have a standardized national curriculum with standardized national tests, redone evaluations so that test scores make up 40% of a teacher's evaluation, undone tenure and seniority rights, and spent hundreds of millions every year to label teachers as "bad"and "failing," has NOT been enough.
They're afraid that the next NYC mayor might not be pro-reform enough to give them everything they want in 2014 and on.
And so they plan on buying the next NYC mayor:
Leaders of a national education reform movement, including Joel I. Klein and Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellors in New York and Washington, have formed a statewide political group in New York with an eye toward being a counterweight to the powerful teachers’ union in the 2013 mayoral election.
The group, called StudentsFirstNY, is an arm of a national advocacy organization that Ms. Rhee founded in 2010. Like the national group, the state branch will promote the expansion of charter schools and the firing of ineffective schoolteachers, while opposing tenure.
Led by Micah Lasher, who is leaving his job next week as the director of state legislative affairs for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the 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.
Members of the group worry that without a significant marshaling of forces, their achievements could be dismantled. Their aim is to raise $10 million annually for five years, hoping to make an imprint throughout the next mayor’s first term.
“This organization is really going to represent a redoubling of efforts, new energy and serious resources, invested in making our schools great in a climate that may not be as favorable post-Jan. 1, 2014,” Mr. Lasher said. He has been the mayor’s point person in Albany, and was involved in negotiating the recent deal creating a new teacher evaluation system.
The NY Times reports that in addition to the involvement of Rhee and Klein, Eva Moskowitz, Geoffrey Canada and Ed Koch sit on the board of StudentsFirstNY. And what's their plan?
Simple - pressure the next mayor to continue their pro-reform, pro-testing, anti-student, anti-teacher policies:
The new group is not supporting a particular candidate, nor will it necessarily endorse one, Mr. Lasher said. But he indicated that between now and the Democratic primary, the group would pressure mayoral candidates to declare their positions on education; those who have so far expressed interest in running have been silent on some elements of the reform agenda. Most of the politicians considering a run, including Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker; Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate; and Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, have been more cordial with Mr. Mulgrew than Mayor Bloomberg has.
Establishing where the next mayor stands on education is crucial for advocates, because a number of unresolved issues will fall to Mr. Bloomberg’s successor. The city’s contract with the teachers’ union, which expired in 2009, remains to be negotiated, raising questions about whether the next mayor will support the granting of individual performance bonuses for teachers — the union prefers schoolwide bonuses — or will call for teachers to be laid off if their positions are cut and they cannot find new ones.
Under Mr. Bloomberg, charter schools have been given free space in underused public school buildings, a policy that has led to disagreements across the city as parents argue with other parents over classrooms and closets.
In 2015, mayoral control of schools will come up for renewal in Albany, reviving questions about checks and balances and parents’ ability to influence school policy.
Throughout the coming negotiations, Ms. Rhee expected that her organization would push for change, however uncomfortable it might be for the city’s mayor.
The clearest indication these corporate reformers mean business comes from a quotation at the end offered by Geoffrey Canada:
Ms. Rhee and Mr. Klein have a confrontational history with teachers’ unions. But some charter school leaders and other advocates have spoken of the need to lower the temperature of the debate and have turned their focus inward on improving their own schools.
“Folks are genuinely looking for opportunities to make peace and not war,” Mr. Canada said. “And I think that’s terrific. But someone has to make war.”
That's a classy statement by Mr. Canada there - a declaration of war against traditional public schools, teachers and students.
But that's exactly what this movement is - a well-funded, well-organized, Astroturf movement that is waging war against the public, public education, students, parents and teachers.
Here in NYC, the public is overwhelmingly opposed to Bloomberg's corporate education reform policies and yet they get pushed through year after year.
StudentsFirstNY will try and continue this tradition.
And given the money they will have - money from Bill Gates, money from Rupert Murdoch, money from the Koch Brothers - and given the press they will garner from the corporate medi,, they will probably be very successful at just that.
Corporate education reformers met with Andrew Cuomo in a hotel room when Governor 1% was running for his current office and gave him a suitcase full of cash to promote a corporate education reform platform.
Which Cuomo has dutifully done.
You can be sure that StudentsFirstNY - some of whom met with Cuomo before he was elected - will look to do the same with the next NYC mayor.
As Mr. Canada said, this is war and the corporate education reformers mean to finish off the traditional public school system and create their all-privatized, all-charterized, non-unionized neo-liberal dream.