September 11, 2009
Parents who battled the mayor over school governance and lost are regrouping and redirecting their efforts to electing sympathetic city candidates.
The new organization, NYC Kids PAC, announced a roster of candidates for City Council, Comptroller and Public Advocate they will support in the fall campaign season. Ann Kjellberg, president and spokeswoman for the PAC, said that the group has begun to collect donations and will distribute them amongst the candidates they endorse.
Many PAC steering committee members were also active in the Parent Commission on School Governance, which lobbied heavily for stronger outlets for parent involvement during the debate over mayoral control. Kjellberg said that many members were disillusioned by their experience as parents fighting for the ears of Albany lawmakers. Rather than continuing to lobby their opponents, she said, they decided to boost their political allies.
The PAC’s steering committee looked for candidates whose voting records align with the organization’s mission, which includes strengthening local control and community involvement in schools, reducing class size, opposing private sector influence in public schools and reducing standardized test preparation in classes. But the deciding factor, Kjellberg said, was each candidate’s stance against the city’s school capital program.
“We were very, very grateful and moved by those officials who stepped forth under considerable pressure from the mayor and voted their consciences on the capital plan and we wanted to encourage other officials,” she said.
Kjellberg said that the group was still in its very early stages and would continue to refine its criteria for endorsing other candidates. She said that the group’s aim is to represent a broad range of parents throughout the public school system. “We wanted to represent all parents in the city and give a voice to all potential issues that parents want to bring to the process,” she said.
Another group of parent advocates that evolved from the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice launched their own PAC in July. Kjellberg said that she hopes the two political organizations will work together. “We don’t see ourselves as being antagonistic, but complementary,” she said.
The two groups may be part of a trend of parent advocacy groups mobilized to greater activity by the legislative battle over mayoral control. “We’ve really reached a decisive stage after the governance issue,” Kjellberg said. “We’ve reached a crossroads, and we need to start over.”
The group endorsed:
- John Liu for comptroller
- Norman Siegel for public advocate
- Charles Barron for City Council in District 42
- Alan Gerson for City Council in District 1
- Robert Jackson for City Council in District 7
- Ken Mitchell for City Council in District 49
- Diana Reyna for City Council in District 34
- Al Vann for City Council in District 36
- Mark Weprin for City Council in District 23