But knock me over with a feather, when it came to an election year vote on charter schools, he cast a YEA vote to more than double charter school numbers in New York. Notes the Wall Street Journal:
On Friday, the legislature passed a sweeping bill to raise the cap to 460 from 200, and Mr. Perkins voted in favor of it. But the senator had voted against a similar effort in the past and earlier introduced his own version of legislation that would have curbed the schools.Why, oh why, would Perkins do such an about-face? Did he realize that returning support to the teacher's unions who have supported him so well was not in the interest of Harlem parents? Was this a matter of conscience? Or was this politics, with a primary opponent now in the race for State Senate, primarily on the issue of charter schools? From the New York Post:
Perkins' long-standing and vocal opposition to charters had enraged many parents and provoked the primary challenge from Basil Smikle.
Yesterday, charter-school parents accused Perkins of changing his vote in hope of saving his political hide.
"It would've been political suicide for him to continue on the path he was on," parent Karl Willingham said at Harlem Success Academy II.
"He's vulnerable."It all comes down to the numbers. Also from the Wall Street Journal:
In 2006, 23,000 people voted in a gubernatorial primary in Senate District 30, which includes most of Harlem, much of the Upper West Side and some of Washington Heights. Pro-charter voices like that figure. There are an estimated 10,000 children enrolled in 16 Harlem charter schools, or about 20% of all Harlem children. In addition, about 14,000 children are on waiting lists for Harlem schools, though not all reside in Harlem.If you're a Harlem parent who has your child in a good, safe, orderly charter school and your local state senator is on a crusade to force your child back into the not-so-good, sometimes dangerous, mostly disorderly public school system, you think you might go vote in the primary election and support the pro-charter school candidate? I think Perkins did that math too. (Photo from NY Post)