Public School Backers Tie Education Reformers to Mitt Romney

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Michael Bocamazo reports: A coalition of union, parent, and community groups, New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, held a rally today in front of the New York Department of Education and released a report on the alleged connections between the pro-charter school group StudentsFirst and the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. The press conference was an opening salvo in what's expected to be a major fight over education policy during the 2013 mayoral race. StudentsFirst was founded by former chancellor of Washington D.C. public schools Michelle Rhee, and by former NYC schools chancellor Joel Klein. At the press conference today, critics released a report whose major charges revolved around the political donations by StudentsFirst board members and their connections with Romney-backing groups. "The whole emphasis on testing comes straight off of Wall Street, because what it does is it lets you bottom-line kids, like a hedge fund manager bottom-lines a profit sheet," said Billy Easton of the Alliance for Quality Education of New York, which is funded by the state teachers' union. The first of the five key findings of the report was that "StudentFirstNY Board Members and funders are contributing over $2 million to Mitt Romney and Super PACs working to defeat President Obama." It also cited political contributions as evidence of a larger Republican agenda including privatization of schools, stating that "StudentsFirst has supported Republicans over Democrats 68% of the time." New Yorkers for Great Public Schools seeks to undo some of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education policies, which have emphasized testing and teacher evaluations. StudentFirstNY is supportive of Bloomberg's policies. When asked about charter schools as part of education reform, though, Easton said the organization was not necessarily anti-charter. "It's not really are we pro- or anti-charter schools, it's the agenda of privatization that goes well beyond charter schools and includes more testing ? a lot of money is made off testing," he said. The report was aggressively entitled, "StudentsFirst Romney First: How Romney Donors and Republican Insiders Plan to Use Their Political Capital ? and Bain Capital ? to Control NYC Education." Members of the coalition chanted slogans as "Kids First, Profits No, StudentsFirst has got to go." Onlookers in cars rolled down their windows and chanted along with them on multiple occasions. To read the full article at City & State [click here. ](

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