Two public-advocate hopefuls agree to help make an issue of a pro-charter group
Two prospective candidates for public advocate say they will not accept money or support from StudentsFirstNY, the organization created to advance Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education agenda after he leaves office.
City Council member Letitia James of Brooklyn, who is expected to join the race next year, signed onto an anti-StudentsFirstNY pledge, as did Noah Gotbaum, a Community Education Council member from Manhattan and stepson* of former public advocate Betsy Gotbaum.
Two other candidates expected to enter the race, State Senator Daniel Squadron, who was endorsed by Bloomberg when he ran for office in 2008 against incumbent Marty Connor, and Reshma Sujani, a former aide to Bill de Blasio, have not signed the pledge. (De Blasio, the current public advocate, has also not signed onto the pledge.)
The group that organized the anti-StudentsFirstNY pledge is a collection of union and education advocates calling itself New Yorkers for Great Public Schools. The group faults StudentsFirstNY for promoting the use of charter schools and teacher evaluations rather than pushing for increased funding for public schools.
A total of 33 Democratic officials and candidates for various offices in New York City have so far signed onto the pledge, and it ought to be said that few if any of them had any chance of getting any support from StudentsFirstNY. But the overall goal of the pledge is to make the group toxic, or at least to indicate that candidates who accept its support are choosing a side in the fight between unions and pro-charter reformers.
City Council Speaker and likely mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said she'd accept StudentsFirstNY support and donations, just as she has accepted them from the United Federation of Teachers.
City Comptroller John Liu said he'd reject it.
Former comptroller Bill Thompson said he was concerned about StudentsFirstNY, but not ruled out accepting their support. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and de Blasio have not taken a position yet.
Here's the latest list of Democrats who have pldged to reject StudentsFirstNY support and money:
Senator Eric Adams, Candidate for Brooklyn Borough President
Assemblyman Jeff Aubry
City Council Member Charles Barron
Assemblywoman Inez Barron
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto
Assemblyman William Colton
City Council Member Leroy Comrie, Candidate for Queens Borough President
City Council Member Daniel Dromm
City Council Member Julissa Ferraras
Assemblywoman Deborah Glick
Jesus Gonzalez, City Council candidate
Noah Gotbaum, Candidate for Public Advocate
Senator Shirley Huntley
City Council Member Robert Jackson, Candidate for Manhattan Borough President
City Council Member Letitia James, Candidate for Public Advocate
Senator Liz Krueger
City Council Member Brad Lander
City Council Member Stephen Levin
Comptroller John Liu, Candidate for Mayor
Assemblyman Alan Maisel
City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito
Jason Otnaño, Candidate for State Senate
Senator Kevin Parker
Assemblyman Nick Perry
City Council Member Diana Reyna
Antonio Reynoso, Candidate for City Council
Donovan Richards, Candidate for City Council
Senator Gustavo Rivera
Community Board 7 Member Helen Rosenthal Candidate for NYC Council
City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
City Council Member Mark Weprin
City Council Member Jumaane Williams
CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated that Noah Gotbaum was Betsy Gotbaum's son.