education reform now

New York

N.Y. business community bands together to back Common Core

New York

Canvassers urge "'Superman'" audience to join political fight

New York

Door to door in Crown Heights with a charter school foot soldier

George Banning canvasses for charter school advocates in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. As next week's Race to the Top deadline approaches, pro-charter advocates are marshaling all their resources to lift the state's cap on charter schools. George Banning is one of their foot soldiers. It's been hard to miss the advocacy group Education Reform Now's pro-charter, anti-teachers union ad blitz. The group, backed by millions of dollars raised largely from hedge fund managers, spent $750,000 on a television ad buy last week, for example. Its web ads plaster Google, Facebook and news websites. But the group is also trying to rally support for its efforts in Albany by sending roughly 40 canvassers like Banning literally to voters' doorsteps. To persuade lawmakers to support their issues — many of which clash with the powerful teachers union — Education Reform Now has to argue that its positions enjoy a groundswell of public support. But the true extent of public support for its position is unclear. The last independent poll that asked found that more than 60 percent of New Yorkers wanted more charters, but that was in March 2009. A recent poll reported that public support for Chancellor Joel Klein, a charter school cheerleader, is declining. And so one afternoon last week, Banning hit the streets of the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn armed with postcards and petitions addressed to the neighborhood's assemblyman and senator. On a clipboard, Banning carried a list of names and addresses of registered voters.