Educating children is an uphill battle. There are so many variables, so many things that can go wrong. If you add to that an urban district with a high population of children coming from underprivileged homes, the variables are even higher. Teachers and administrators need a lot of support to give these children the best possible chance to be all that they can be in life. Because every child deserves that.
This is not to say that we should give the Albany City School District a blank check to go and voraciously spend money. In fact, we should carefully pay attention to the budget and ensure our voices are heard. We should come to the budget discussion with facts and knowledge, not scare tactics and lies. That only hurts the children of Albany and the tax payers of Albany.
Although there is no proof on what group has sponsored these recent mailers and negative phone polls, there is no doubt that those sponsors do not care about educating the children of Albany. It's also evident that they have deep pockets. The estimates I've heard for the mailers is in the range of $5,000 per mailing (this is a broad estimate not based on any specific numbers). The calls, let's say cost $1000 each. I've heard of two. With two mailers and two negative survey calls, that estimated cost is about $12,000. So, bottom line, they are so against the children of Albany getting a good education, they are willing to throw real money at it. In a time when people are tightening their belts, a time when the teachers have put their students before themselves, a time when the children need funding more than ever, it's especially insulting.
It also brings to light the disparaging sides of Charter school vs. public school. It is rumored that the Brighter Choice foundation is actually behind these calls and mailings. While this isn't proven, the Times Union reported that they have used that bulk mailing number in the past. Brighter Choice has also used underhanded tactics before. Charter schools aren't effected by the budget vote. In fact, until recently, in New York people were not even allowed to look at the books of these publicly funded schools. As a voter, I can't look at or vote on anything to do with Charter Schools. They do not have to tighten their belts right now. They can educate any children they want to, and can throw out the children they don't want. If the Brighter Choice Foundation is behind this smear campaign, they are proven that they care only about their bottom line, and their bottom line is making money, it's not educating the children of Albany.
I personally hope it's not the Brighter Choice Foundation. I hope that it's some crazy wealthy person who is angry at their 9th grade Earth Science teacher. There are some amazing teachers, administrators, families, and especially children in Brighter Choice schools. They deserve better this.
Whatever group is sponsoring this, enough is enough. Pick a different city, stop trying to ruin mine.
If you are outraged, there is something you can do. Vote. Encourage others to vote yes on the school budget as well. Click here for a printable flyer to hand out to fight against this outside attack on our children and our taxes.
The links above give some past news stories on this issue here's a link to a Times union editorial, and another link here for WNYT's Abigail Bleck Baker's report on the mailings.