From the Morning Memo:
An organized funded by liberal Democratic donor/activist Bill Samuels is launching an online campaign in opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education reform agenda that uses the governor’s own words against him.
The campaign is centered around a web video that highlights the disparities between high-income and high-needs school districts, and features Cuomo saying when he was first a candidate for governor back in 2010 that education is the “civil rights issue of our time.”
“There are two education systems in this state,” Cuomo says, “not public-private, but one for the rich and one of the poor; they’re both public systems.”
Samuels then appears on the screen, accusing Cuomo of “discriminating” against poor students across in New York and adding: “Stop blaming our teachers for your failed policies.”
“On Cuomo’s watch, the gap in spending between New York’s 100 richest schools and 100 poorest schools has increased by a deplorable degree,” Samuels says in a press release that will announce the online campaign – an early copy of which was provided to CapTon.
“Every child deserves an equal chance but Cuomo has abdicated the state’s fiscal responsibility to provide all of New York’s students with an equal opportunity for an excellent education,” he continues.
“I applaud all the parents, teachers, and children who are rising up across the state to defeat Cuomo’s discriminatory education agenda in the current legislative session.”
At this point, there are no plans to air the video as a TV ad, according to a source familiar with Samuels’ plans, but it will be widely circulated today by education activists and the teachers unions.
This is the first time Samuels had waded into this year’s budget battle, but he has been sharply critical of Cuomo on all manner of issues – from redistricting and campaign finance reform to ethics and constitutional amendments – for years now.
Samuels has long been closely allied with the Senate Democrats, and even served as their finance chairman in the 2008 elections. He was very critical of Cuomo for failing to support the Democrats’ efforts to re-take the Senate majority, and even suggested the governor should seek re-election in 2014 as a Republican.
Samuels briefly sought a primary challenger to Cuomo, and considered running for lieutenant governor himself. He provided some support to Cuomo’s liberal opponent, Zephyr Teachout, but ended up more or less backing the governor’s successful re-election bid.
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