Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic Governor of New York, has had his hands full with agitation by the American Federation of Teachers Local 2, the United Federation of Teachers. Cuomo sits more on the “reform” side of the internal debate in his party between the teachers unions (who have the ear of City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito) who defend the failed status quo, and reformists who want working-class children to have successful educations.
Speaker Mark-Viverito spewed Randi Weingarten-esque talking points at Cuomo, Tweeting that her fellow Democrat supported “hedge fund backed charters.” Governor Cuomo took exception, telling a radio show:
We have a big bureaucracy with a system that is entrenched, and it funds public education. […] And they have their lobbyists, and they have their little public relations teams, and they have their front groups and their advocates, and this is disruptive to that entire system, which is a multi-billion dollar system.
Ouch, but true. And the “front groups” are well funded by the UFT; its state council, the New York State United Teachers or NYSUT; and its national parent, the AFT. The New York Post reports:
The rebranded ACORN — New York Communities for Change — received a total of $1.3 million from the United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers from 2010 to 2013. The unions also pumped $1.2 million into a group called Alliance for Quality Education.
Fun fact: New York Communities for Change is the same front group that the SEIU funded to the tune of $2.4 million largely to aid the Fast Food Forward “strike” campaign against restaurants. Big labor knows who will do its bidding.
Either way, Gov. Cuomo is on to something here even if he doesn’t know how or why. The UFT and Randi’s national AFT are far more vested in their own failed status quo—and they invest in the infrastructure such as P.R. shops and front groups to preserve it—than they are in the education of kids in Harlem who go to relatively successful schools that happen to be operated by Weingarten’s enemy, former NYC Councilmember Eva Moskowitz. But until the power of Randi’s radical union is checked, it can continue to put itself before kids.