With Eliot Spitzer running almost 50 points ahead in New York’s gubernatorial “race,” it seems safe to crown him the winner. Most of us know Spitzer for his anti-corporate crusading as the state’s swashbuckling attorney general. A lot of ink has been spilled predicting how he will govern, but little attention has been paid to the consequences for education. Although he may be bad for business, Spitzer is, surprisingly, pro-school choice.
The New York Daily News reports that Spitzer, “speaking to Orthodox Jews at a Brooklyn yeshiva, said it is unjust that private schools educate 15% of the state’s students but get only 1% of the education budget.” He supports encouraging private means of educating the public, and appears increasingly unabashed in discussing the topic.
Earlier in the year, he flipped from hazy opposition to support of what was then an education tax credit proposal. “I support the idea of education tax credits,” claimed Spitzer, the same month he declared that “vouchers would destroy the public school system.”
The education tax credit at issue was re-formed as a blanket child tax credit, but Spitzer still supports the concept of education-specific tax credits. His spokesman said that “if elected, Eliot will explore the feasibility of expanding such programs.”
Spitzer’s still no fan of vouchers, but education tax credits are emerging as both the “third way” choice policy for Democrats and the preferable policy for social and libertarian conservatives (Spitzer stole the issue from his current opponent, Faso, who sponsored the ETC bill as minority leader of the state Assembly in 2001).
Hopefully the school choice coalition at TEACH NYS are gearing up to ask for the moon next year, when they have a popular Democratic ally in office. School choice supporters should think big in this political environment and put the opposition on the defensive – start with a broad-based bill that covers all parents and make them whittle it down in negotiations.