The emails draw a curtain on the way Klein manipulated public opinion as chancellor, using his connections in the media and proxies from the community to promote what was essentially a DOE-crafted message but making it look like grassroots support for the city's policies:
The city released hundreds of e-mail messages Friday, providing a behind-the-scenes look at one of the major battles of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration, the 2010 campaign to expand charter schools, or, as one dramatic e-mail put it, the “fight of our life.”
The e-mails, released in response to a Freedom of Information request by the city’s teachers’ union, detail the central role that Joel I. Klein, who was then the schools chancellor, took in the effort, including constant contact with charter school advocates and lobbyists for the city. They were then fighting to raise the statewide cap on charter schools to at least 400 from 200 and communicated regularly about their struggles to herd state lawmakers to their side and their exasperation with the union.
At one point, a member of the mayor’s legislative affairs staff e-mailed to say he was searching for someone to write an op-ed article supporting the mayor’s charter school stance and was hoping to recruit the Rev. A. R. Bernard, an influential pastor in Brooklyn. On Friday, Mr. Bernard said that he wrote the article, which appeared in The New York Post, with city officials’ input.
The emails show the heavy-handed effort to raise funds from Wall Street and the hedge funds in order to raise the charter school cap from 200 to 400 as Klein used his public position as chancellor to raise funds for a private concern.
They also show a relationship between Bloomberg, Klein, the NYCDOE and the charter school industry that is so close that they might have all been one big happy family.
In one email, New York City Charter School Center executive director James Merriman asks Klein if the charter school industry can get a “public shoutout from mayor today.”
Diane Ravitch puts the coziness shown in the emails between Klein, his DOE deputies and the charter school operators into context:
The first thing I noticed was the chummy exchanges between the public officials in change of the New York City public school system and the top dogs of the charter leadership–the Wall Street hedge fund managers, the leader of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), the leader of the New York City Charter Center, and various others. It comes clear that there is a strong and concerted effort to hand over as much public space as possible to the charters. The charter leaders are not the poor and oppressed of New York City; they are the powerful and monied, and the public officials who are paid to protect and support the PUBLIC schools of New York City are working hand-in-glove to advance the interests of the privately-managed charters, not the public schools. You will also notice, in one of the emails, that the charters are very concerned to make sure that there is no cap on their executive compensation. Heaven forbid! It’s important that their leaders continue to pull down $400,000 a year to oversee a few small schools.
The collusion between those who are sworn to protect the public schools and those who are incentivized to privatize them is surely the most important thing to be gleaned from this correspondence.
Indeed, it is becoming quite clear that this city is for sale under Bloomberg and the buyers are his cronies on Wall Street.
And because Bloomberg and the people he hires to do his Shock and Awe work are savvy media people, they know how to manipulate their privatization schemes so that the public thinks they're in the public interest.
But essentially Bloomberg has sold the city school system off to privatized interests so that they can run "prison schools" for children of color and make money in the process.