Tuesday, June 6, 2017

NY BAT TEACHERS SAY “NO IDC!”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:  
MARLA KILFOYLE, Executive Director BATs
MELISSA TOMLINSON, Asst. Executive Director BATs
contact.batmanager@gmail.com
516-987-4405


The NY Badass Teachers Association joins the rising call across New York State for the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) to leave their coalition with pro-Trump Republicans and unite with Senate Democrats to retake the majority and fully fund public schools.

The IDC needs to rejoin the Democrats in the Senate and to stop blocking full and fair funding for our public schools. The IDC aligning with the policies of Betsy DeVos hurts the children of NYS." - Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director, BATs


For years, the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) has prevented progressive legislation from being voted on as Republicans stay in the majority. If ever this seemed like a pragmatic idea in the past, it is certainly different in the Trump-DeVos era.
Denying basic equity for impoverished schools, the IDC has joined Republican efforts to withhold full funding of the Foundation Aid formula which was enacted as the statewide settlement in the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. The IDC not only tried to avoid paying the amount owed, they attempted to change the formulas so student poverty would no longer be counted in determining school district funding levels. At the same time, they approved significant increases for privately-run charter schools.

"Your constituents voted for you based on who you were, your views and visions as a Democrat. Being in the IDC goes against your people and just like they voted you in, they will vote you out. Now more than ever we need to strengthen and fix the Democratic party, not fracture it which is exactly what's being done with the IDC.” - Mindy Rosier, NYBAT teacher


As Trump and DeVos act to divert tens of billions in federal funding from public schools to privately-run charter schools and vouchers for private/religious schools, the IDC takes hundreds of thousands in campaign donations from pro-charter PACs, sharing some of the same donors as Republicans.

As noted by education historian Diane Ravitch and Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post it  was corporate Democrats who paved the way for Betsy DeVos, supporting high-stakes testing and teacher evaluations based on junk science in a campaign to paint public schools as “failing” so they can be replaced by charter schools and market-based education “providers”.
Despite the utter failure of her policies in Michigan, the appointment of billionaire heiress Betsy DeVos broke not only Trump’s promise to “end Common Core” but also to “drain the swamp”, signaling that pay-for-play is to be rewarded and that even more privatization of local schools is coming, under the guise of school “choice” or “competition”.



DeVos also seeks to smash the wall separating church and state in federal education funding, but the IDC has already been doing this on the state level. Just last year, IDC members sponsored a bill seeking hundreds of millions in tax credits to religious school donors as IDC leader Jeff Klein attended pro-charter rallies.
“A chaotic patchwork of dysfunctional policies continues unabated in our schools as politicians impose the will of their donors onto parents, students and educators. We see the corruption a mile away. For a better New York, we call on the IDC to stop cutting deals that keep Republicans in the majority.

” - Jake Jacobs, Co-admin, NY BATS

In this year’s budget negotiations, the IDC and Republicans held out for more funding for charter schools, standing in the way of the Democrats efforts to get more funding for public schools.
In 2014, it was reported that Governor Cuomo, himself a backer of charters, “backdoor” religious school vouchers and state receivership was “deeply involved” in the formation of the IDC, secretly orchestrating the whole thing. With mysterious outside support from the Independence Party and completely opaque “housekeeping” accounts, we may be in the dark about who is ultimately behind the IDC’s money, but anyone can see the end result: no movement on campaign finance reform, no reining in Wall Street, no single payer healthcare, no DREAM act and no justice for the neediest schools.



Progressive policies breezing through the State Assembly do not even come up for a vote in the Senate as IDC members tell their constituents “oh well, I tried”.



"The IDC must decide which is more important, capitulating to donors or standing up for children. Supporting Trump and DeVos, and withholding funds from our students will be remembered. Constituents will be seeing you at the town halls and the election booths. We will make it a point to remind everyone of how they voted." - Michael Flanagan, Ed.D. BAT Action Team Co-Director

NY BATs is the largest state chapter of the Badass Teachers Association, an all-volunteer grassroots organization of over 3,600 educators defending public education against privatization and corporate astroturf since 2013.

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