Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is Bill Perkins Rattled?

Following up on the Albany circus, I have a dispatch from Charter Advocacy Day in Albany this past week.

This picture in the NY Post (rag that it is) shows the fury that State Senator Bill Perkins faced from hundreds of his constituents:

And he deserves it. Perkins refused to meet with those constituents even though they came all the way from NYC to Albany. He has continually trotted out weak excuses for an argument in explaining his opposition to charter schools. He famously served on the founding board for Sisulu-Walker Charter School, before the kool-aid wore off, or he drank another flavor, and suddenly he could be heard arguing that charters were creating a "two-tier" system, one for lottery winners and one for lottery losers.

Wake up, Bill! We already have a two-tier system. It goes like this:

* The rich white people downtown have enough money to go to private schools if they don't like the public school options they have.
* The poor, black and brown people in your district have to go to a public school. If that school sucks, their educational experience sucks.

Bill Perkins says resources should be spent trying to fix the larger school system, not boutique charter schools. Sorry, Bill, that strategy hasn't worked in the last 45 years of education reform. With our country still unable to agree on what standards should apply across the states, it's unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. We believers in democracy just like to argue too much for this problem to be solved on a large scale.

Maybe in his first argument, he meant to say "three-tier," with charters being a step up from the sucky kind of district public schools. But probably not; he is a polished politician who chooses his words carefully in public, even if he sometimes is calculating enough to look like an informal, off the cuff speaker. So it makes me wonder, why would he say such a thing?

But I have to wonder this: facing the boos, facing the jeers, the signs ("You even spelled my name right on that one - my mother would be proud" was all he would offer), and visibly sweating from the pressure, did he walk away with a sense of fear, that this angry charter mob could alter the course of his next election? I'd like to think so. We're coming for you, Bill, in the next election. We're voting you out!