January 27, 2009
Neil deMause and I have a story in the latest Village Voice education supplement about the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. The headline declares boldly that the lawsuit was a “failure.” Specifically:
“The Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit Was the Best Hope for City Schools. It Failed.”
Michael Rebell, the lead attorney on the lawsuit and a professor at Teachers College at Columbia, is objecting to this headline, on the grounds that CFE succeeded at its goal of pumping money into the system and at setting a legal precedent for how much money is constitutionally required. (For the record, Rebell says he does agree with the “basic thrust” of the piece, which takes the subtler tack of listing advocates’ many disappointments with the lawsuit’s aftermath.)
Now, as a blogger I have pretty much permanently lost access to the “I don’t write the headlines” excuse. But in this case, I did not, in fact, write the headline. I wouldn’t have, either. I like to be provocative. But I don’t think that the CFE lawsuit was necessarily the “best hope” for the city schools, and I don’t think that what has happened since should necessarily be labeled a total failure.
I bet other people might disagree with me and with Rebell, though. Anyone?
Footnote: Neil, who did write the headline, tells me it is a reference to the television show Babylon 5.
UPDATE: The print-version headline is a little less strong, calling the lawsuit the “last, best hope,” rather than just “best hope,” which is a little jokier.
UPDATE2: Leonie Haimson’s thoughts on the subject are here.