July 21, 2009
A group of parents is forming its own political action committee and donating small amounts of money to candidates who share their educational views.
Members of the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, a group that focuses on educational barriers facing low-income and minority students, will debut their new PAC tomorrow on the steps of City Hall. At this point in the campaign season, the group is supporting four challengers and nine incumbents — among them Speaker Christine Quinn and Education Committee chair Robert Jackson — for City Council.
The PAC is “really designed to support those candidates who we have goals in common with,” said Victoria Bousquet, a coalition parent member. The PAC is technically independent from CEJ.
“It’s really a matter of when we interviewed them, the general feedback – how they felt about English Language Learners, about middle schools, about the new Regents requirements, and parental involvement,” she said, adding, “No one’s perfect. We know that none of them are going to be infallible.”
The list includes incumbents Helen Diane Foster, Gale Brewer, Charles Barron, Julissa Ferreras, Letitia James, Rosie Mendez, and Melissa Mark Viverito.In one of the most competitive races in the city, the fight for Councilman John Liu’s seat, the coalition is supporting S.J. Jung, a board member at the Young Korean American Service and Education Center. It is also backing Brad Lander, who is running for Councilman Bill de Blasio’s seat, as well as Mark Winston Griffith, and Daniel Dromm.
Members of CEJ have donated $250 to each of the incumbents’ campaigns, with the exception of Brewer, who did not want a contribution, according to Barbara Gross, a coalition parent leader. Lander’s campaign also did not accept the group’s donation, but Jung received $750; Griffith, $500 and Dromm, the maximum allowable, $2,750.
Bousquet said the group has done the bulk of its fundraising from parents, soliciting average donations of about $40.
The coalition has yet to decide whether to weigh in on the mayoral, comptroller, and public advocate races, she said.
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that all candidates had received $250, based on information provided by CEJ.