NEW YORK -- Two weeks before the New York City primary, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) plans to wade into the complicated world of education policy.
According to a policy memo obtained by The Huffington Post, Spitzer, who is running for city comptroller, plans to propose auditing how the city spends money on testing and test preparation, and he wants to encourage contract negotiations that include salary increases with the United Federation of Teachers, among other things.
Spitzer is running against Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a fellow Democrat. In New York, the comptroller oversees pension funds, investigates financial and contract-related issues, and can advise the mayor on fiscal management.
Spitzer will present his education platform at an 11 a.m. Wednesday press conference in front of I.S. 296, a Brooklyn public school. "As Governor, I fought to get New York City students and schools their fair share for the first time, and as Comptroller I will keep fighting to make sure the dollars we get are spent wisely every time," Spitzer said in a statement.
Though Spitzer representatives declined to detail his views on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education policies, some of his proposals suggest an implicit critique of the current administration. Spitzer will call for encouraging "competitive bidding for goods and services," according to the memo, while Bloomberg's Department of Education has been criticized for awarding too many no-bid contracts.
"These are veiled criticisms of the Bloomberg administration, which relied on non-competitive processes to make awards," said Aaron Pallas, a professor at Columbia University's Teachers College.
Other proposals, such as a promise to "facilitate fair contract negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers," seem calibrated to temper attacks from labor.
Earlier this summer, labor groups united to form two political action committees to help Stringer beat Spitzer, and reportedly UFT President Michael Mulgrew personally pressured a political consulting firm to drop Spitzer as a client.
With Stringer trailing Spitzer by 18 points, according to HuffPost Pollster, the education policy announcement -- one specifically related to union friendly issues, such as concerns about standardized testing -- may be an effort to prevent the UFT and its affiliates from pumping millions into anti-Spitzer advertisements.
Mulgrew was leading the union attacks against Spitzer.
I'm not sure these education proposals will matter to Mulgrew and the UFT leadership.
Will they matter to individual teachers?
Have to admit, seeing a proposal for "fair contract negotiations" with the UFT catches my eye.
You don't see many politicians lead with that kind of thing.
BTW, Quinnipiac poll out at 4 PM today.