Elections Show Hurdles for Charter School Backers
By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ
Published: September 16, 2010
They were the candidates of riches, flush with hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wall Street investors who believed in the promise of charter schools.
But when the election results came in on Tuesday, all three State Senate candidates supporting education reform — Basil Smikle, Lynn Nunes and Mark H. Pollard — lost by huge margins, with none cracking 30 percent of the total vote in primary contests against union-backed rivals.
The three New York races amounted to some of the country’s first proxy wars between labor groups and Wall Street financiers pushing for education reform, and in the end, the time-tested union machine prevailed.
The losses illustrate the challenges that the education reform movement faces as it seeks to elect candidates friendly to its agenda, which includes changing how teachers are evaluated and increasing the number of charter schools. In each case, a relatively obscure outsider took on an incumbent who had been critical of the charter school movement.