“So where will you go? The Republicans are worse.” That was the response I received when speaking with a powerful New York Democrat. I had just explained how teachers and parents, who are Democrats, feel betrayed and abandoned by the education policies of Governor Cuomo.
The argument that the alternative is worse, is the argument used to keep us in our place. It is the argument that has allowed big money interests to hold sway in a party that was once committed to the progressive ideals of public education. It is the argument used to mollify parents who are outraged when their neighborhood schools are closed and their children are continually tested. It is the argument used to dismiss those who have pleaded for equitable funding for our schools.
There was a time when Democrats did not refer to increased funding as “throwing money at a problem”, but instead viewed school funding as a moral commitment to communities, especially those whose students most needed support. There was a time when the needs of working men and women were treasured more than the money of big donors whose outsized influence distorts the policies of the party. That was a time when we knew our core values and ideals.
I watch the political process through the lens of a believer in our public schools. I worry that the agenda of hedge fund managers and charter chain operators now trumps that of teachers and moms. Others view the party through a different lens. Some worry about a lack of commitment to environmental issues and data privacy. Others worry about public hospitals and health services. Still others feel strongly about election and tax reform. What we all have in common is that we want to vote for a Democrat for Governor, not someone who Republican Senate Leader Skelos described as a “good moderate Republican.”
I stood with one thousand others on a Wednesday evening outside the recent Democratic Convention. The chant of the crowd was clear—ABC—Anybody but Cuomo. There was a hunger in the crowd for a candidate who will respect the work of teachers. There was hunger for someone who will respect the pleas from parents to roll back testing and the Common Core. There was hunger for someone who instead of claiming he will be the “student lobbyist” will actually stand up for all children, by equitably funding their schools rather than cutting taxes on millionaires. Words and commissions are not enough. A change in direction is what is needed.
Now is the time to courageously stand and say we will not be bullied by the fear posed by false choices. The Working Families Party must put forth a candidate who respects its ideals if it is to have credibility and voice. I want to be able to respond to the question, “Where will you go?” with an answer. I want that answer to be, “I will go to the WFP who believes in our public schools.”
If you feel the same, contact the Working Family Party today. Email director Bill Lipton at email@example.com.
Let him know that you too want an alternative to Andrew Cuomo, too!