Education advocates optimistic candidates will reject StudentsFirstNY help

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Michael Bloomberg in school. (Dan Rosenblum)
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Some labor groups and education advocates are calling on candidates in city elections next year to reject money and support from StudentsFirstNY, which has some donors in common with Mitt Romney and is trying to keep Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education agenda intact after he leaves office next year.

At a press conference this afternoon, the advocates declined to say what would happen to Democratic candidates who don't reject the help of StudentsFirstNY.

Bill Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, said, "At this point, we're not focusing on people not agreeing. We're focusing on getting people to agree."

Easton noted City Comptroller John Liu said he'd reject the group's support, and predicted, "I think you're going to see more of that." (Tom Allon, a local publisher and former public school teacher, said he'd take support from any group serious about improving schools.)

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Later, I asked the people running the press conference if there were any other groups with questionable or unsavory donors that candidates should avoid. Easton laughed and said playfully that maybe that'll be the subject of a report in the future.

"The Committee to Save New York!" yelled Michael Kink from the audience. 

Kink is the executive director of the labor-backed Strong Economy for All, which has fought for changes to the state's tax code and increased funding for social programs.

The Committee to Save New York is the organization Governor Andrew Cuomo helped create to support his agenda, with televisions ads funded by business executives and private-labor organizations. The group has not disclosed its donors, but has said it will comply with a new state law to do so.