By now it is no big news that the Working Families Party has made the very questionable decision to endorse NY Governor Andrew Cuomo for his November bid for reelection. This, we are to believe, is the result of promises that Cuomo will keep. In situations like this I remember my favorite quote from the recently departed and very wise Maya Angelou, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." No matter what promises were made in the deal with the WFP, I believe that Cuomo has shown us who he is, and there is no reason to believe otherwise.
In the wake of the WFP endorsement, many were eager to use the endorsement to suggest that since Cuomo was not a viable choice for those who care about the future of public education in NY, the only alternative was to throw our votes to Republican candidate Astorino. One such post went as far as to state that this is about "right vs. wrong" and that voters must do the right thing and settle for the lesser of two evils by voting for Astorino in this upcoming election. It is noteworthy that neither of the guest authors of the blog live in or vote in NY.
The pro -Astorino post leaves out the most important factors. Astorino has been quite vocal about the fact that he is on board with the corporate ed reformers. He fully intends, if the citizens of New York are foolish enough to elect him, to lift the cap on charters in our state. There is no reason to believe that Astorino is on the “right side” of this issue, other than his quite strategic , "I’m anti -Common Core” statement as he decided to throw his hat in the ring. The alliance with Scott Walker as a fund raiser for the Astorino campaign is a huge red flag. Scott Walker - the governor who used ALEC model legislation to push his privatization agenda for education through the budget process - was scheduled to appear at a $500 per person fundraiser for Astorino in New York on June 9th.
I live in New York. I see which political figures are vocal and side with parents and teachers on this issue. Astorino’s name has not been visible as a vocal fighter for children. Yes, he refused the tests for his children this year. it was a nice political move to woo the anti – Common Core voters. But I firmly believe that’s all it was. He has made statements that the CC$$ need "some major changes" and were rolled out improperly. This is not a statement that the CC$$ must go, which is what the Common Core critics are seeking and claiming they will receive from this candidate. I am not willing to throw my vote away on someone who will likely be the death knell for public education in my state. When all eyes are on NY, I don’t want them watching as we become the first state to follow New Orleans and lose our system of public education. That would cause irreparable harm to children – harm that will happen if shortsighted voters do not see beyond Common Core as the single most important issue. EDUCATION is the most important issue and electing another corporate puppet is NOT the answer.
This year voters do have a real choice. The refusal of those who would vote for Cuomo or Astorino to cross party lines will place New York in the hands of the corporate profiteers. The misguided belief that a third party ticket that includes a strong teacher activist cannot win becomes a self fulfilled prophecy when voters are bullied into believing there are only two choices in an election. When the WFP endorsed Cuomo the immediate response was a large surge of energy towards the Green Party team. Those who were on the fence waiting to see if the WFP would produce a viable candidate threw up their hands in disgust at the Cuomo endorsement. Many signed up the day after the WFP's Cuomo endorsement to volunteer for the Hawkins/ Jones campaign. Many have begun to contribute to the campaign - one which is NOT accepting money from corporate interests. If the pro-Astorino contingent would cross party lines, if they would cast their votes for the candidate who completely supports public education, New York voters will have the opportunity to show those across the nation that when we truly put party loyalties aside, we can create real change – with a candidate who represents what all children deserve: a free and appropriate public education.
I am not willing to experiment with the futures of the children of this state by handing those futures over to yet another supporter of corporate ed reform to see if we can negotiate the right to hold onto our schools. If we elect Astorino, that will be the case. I am voting for Hawkins and Jones. I am one of many who volunteered for their campaign. We do not have to settle for the lesser of two evils. We CAN make this happen!