January 10th, 2016


Billy Easton 200

Guests: Working Families Party National Director Dan Cantor and Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Billy Easton

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Working Families Party National Director Dan Cantor

Read Highlights: Despite endorsing Bernie Sanders, Cantor says WFP will “enthusiastically” support Hillary Clinton if she is the nominee:

DC: The answer to the question is “yes,” enthusiastically. We are not about running noble but doomed people for office in general elections. … We will be a 1000 percent in favor of the Democratic nominee being—if it’s Secretary Clinton—the next president. There’s way too much at stake not to do that and I think any sober person would concur.

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Cantor on the WFP’s national expansion plans:

DC: We are in nine states and DC at the moment, so we say ten states or should-be states. I think New Mexico will be number eleven. I think there’s interest in lots of other states: Colorado, there’s interest in Washington state, California, in North Carolina. It’s a process to get a new political organization formed. We don’t go anywhere where we aren’t essentially invited by community organizations, environmentalists, netroots groups, progressive labor unions. You can’t do this thing from afar. You have to have people rooted in the ground, rooted there in those states that share the values that Working Families Party has been establishing.”

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Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Billy Easton

Easton predicts the opt-out movement will grow:

BE: We’ve been talking a lot with the folks who lead the opt-out movement and we supported that effort, but there were other folks who really lead that and they are not looking to slow down on opting out. In fact, they are projecting more opt-outs next year than happened this year. They are not satisfied with the changes, with the moratorium on using the standardized testing to evaluate teachers. They’re not satisfied because it does not reduce the amount of testing that is going on in schools. In fact, it may actually increase it in some ways because now there will be local tests that will be used to do those evaluations. It doesn’t change the fact that those evaluations are happening and it doesn’t fundamentally shift the direction of education policy coming out of the governor’s office.

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On the education money the state owes to schools in New York City:

MP: According to your report, New York City schools are owed over $2 billion by the state. How did you arrive at that number and what is the likelihood that the state actually comes up with that amount of money? Also, what specifically would this $2 billion go to were it actually allocated to the city?

BE: That number comes straight from the state Education Department’s own figures. There’s a school funding formula called Foundation Aid Formula … and they calculate how much money is unpaid from that formula. … If that money is provided it would go to supporting initiatives like the mayor’s program for renewal schools, which is to improve schools that are struggling. It would go to raise the quality of the curriculum in schools, reduce class sizes, provide more social and emotional support for students, guidance counselors—there’s a shortage of guidance counselors in New York City—ensure that all students have functioning libraries. Those are some of the things the money would go for. We’re not asking for all of this money in one single year. We’re looking for a three-year phase-in to provide this money. Another $2.8 billion is due to schools around the state, so schools around the state are due a total of $4.8 billion dollars, but we’re looking for a three-year phase-in of that funding.

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