Earlier this week, campaign handlers for Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries announced that Jeffries would not be accepting fundraised money from StudentsFirstNY, an "independent expenditures" campaign – or in other words, a political action committee (PAC) – in support of the assemblyman’s run for U.S. Congress, stating that "unregulated money has no place in the political discourse."
Although this is not the first time a candidate for a political office has turned away PAC money, it does raise a few eyebrows for those watching the race. Because StudentsFirstNY backs the charter schools movement, and Jeffries also supports the growth of charter schools.
“The aspirations of parents such as yourself, who just want to find a vehicle to provide young children with the opportunity to get the best possible education … is one that I will always support, notwithstanding the consequences from those who may want to defend the status quo,” Jeffries said at a town hall event hosted by the New York City Charter Center last October, as reported by Gotham Schools.
However, Jeffries’s opponent for the congressional seat, City Councilman Charles Barron, is against the charter schools movement.
Barron echoes the sentiments of the United Federation of Teachers along with hundreds of thousands of public school administrators and parents who argue that charter schools siphon space and resources from existing public schools and create an insecure environment for the students and staff. Additionally, recent data suggests charter schools do not necessarily outperform public schools to any significant degree.
DC-37, which represents 25,000 Department of Education employees, has rewarded Barron by giving him its endorsement, in what Gotham Schools calls “a not-so-subtle rejection” of Jeffries’s stance on charter schools, although the even more powerful UFT, which represents 75,000 teachers and 200,000 members in total, announced that it wouldn’t endorse any candidate.
But it appears, although Jeffries has openly supported the growth of charter schools, he still has one foot in and one foot out, and his position on public schools is not so cut-and-dry either:
For example, Jeffries, along with the UFT was an outspoken opponent of Cathie Black, becoming the first elected official to file a law suit challenging her credentials. He was behind legislation that secured $800 million in funding for public schools, and he spoke out against school closures also sponsoring legislation extending a one-year moratorium on any proposed school closure.
So, it’s clear: On school reform, Jeffries will avoid drawing bold ideological differences between him and his opponent for monetary sake, or even, to make it easy for the voter.
But does Jeffries’s decision to turn away from PAC money that supports the charter schools movement change the way you will vote on June 26?
Take our poll, and tell us what you think in the comments.