Friday, September 23, 2016

School Scope: Education and Local Politics – Why I Am Not voting

All politics is local - or so they say. There is a local State Assembly race between a Republican former teacher and a Democratic former Paraprofessional and PTA president, the daughter of our former State Assembleywoman who "retired" and is now in the cushy job of Queens County clerk. Here is my Wave column for this week - I don't even have a 3rd party choice.

School Scope: Education and Local Politics – Why I Am Not voting
By Norm Scott

With the departure of Phil Goldfeder, Rockaway is faced with a choice between a Democrat (Stacey Pheffer Amato) and a Republican (Alan Zwirn) for State Assembly. While Phil is a lawyer, both Amato and Zwirn worked for the NYC school system, Zwirn as a teacher, Amato as a paraprofessional. So we expect there to be some focus on educational issues in their campaigns.

Zwirn did announce he was holding a rally at John Adams HS “to call attention to NYC’s floundering school system.” I wouldn’t expect anything less than an attack on the public school system from a Republican. After all, the Republican party has been all about the dismantling and privatizing the school system, led by its national candidate Donald Trump who has attacked teachers and their unions and calls for a voucher system which would leave public schools with only the kids no private school or charter school want. The article in the Wave last week had Zwirn’s views on education but so much was left out.

Charter school shill Governor Cuomo and the State Assembly voted to force the Mayor to give space to charters or pay for space if they rent. Charters toss kids they don’t want back into the public schools through a variety of ways. They brag about their scores – which of  course will be higher once you rid the schools of low-scoring kids. If we track the most “successful” charters we see a big drop in the number of students as they progress through the grades. Most of these schools don’t accept students to fill these spots so they can keep their scores high.  

Cuomo and many people who send their kids to non-public schools favor an education income tax credit. I have no problem if people want to send their kids to non-public schools but not on my back. Hey, I might want to hire a private sanitation carting company instead of using our publicly supported sanitation department. People would laugh if I asked for a tax credit. What next? Charter fire and police? After all if you believe in competition, why not privatize everything?

What about teachers being rated based on how their students score on one or two big tests, a system that has been proven faulty where in one class a teacher can be rated the best and in another class, the worst?

Both the Republican and Democratic Party have been awful on many educational issues, both parties signing off on an agenda of phony education reform (deform). Though I liked Phil Goldfeder personally, I found his views on education issues regressive and if he ran this time I would not have voted for him based on those views alone. I also like Alan Zwirn, who I bet will not denounce Trump’s views on education (I don’t know Amato). How anyone who spent their life as a teacher can take Trump seriously is beyond me. I don’t expect Amato to denounce Cuomo for his attack on educators. So I’m suspecting that I will not be voting for either of the choices for Phil’s replacement but I’m open to being surprised.


  1. Many have similar feelings about the Presidential election, Norm.


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