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StudentsFirstNY Announces Itself

Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 07:31 PM

StudentsFirstNY, the new political group formed by leaders of the education reform movement like Joel I. Klein and Michelle Rhee, officially announced its arrival on Wednesday morning.

In a news release, the group gave the full line-up of its board members, who include Mr. Klein, the former city schools chancellor, and Ms. Rhee, the former Washington chancellor, as well as charter school and reform advocates like Eva Moskowitz, who runs a chain of charter schools in New York City, and Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone.

There are also a number of people from the hedge fund and investment banking world, many of whom have been long-time supporters of the reform agenda.

The board also includes one New York City public school teacher, Jane Viau, who as a member of the advocacy group Educators 4 Excellence, and who has spoken out against the state's seniority-based layoff law. And another board member, Lisette Nieves, is a mayoral appointee to the city's Panel for Educational Policy, the mayor-controlled board that approves school closings and openings, among other changes.

The formation of StudentsFirstNY was first reported in Wednesday's New York Times. Although the organization has not endorsed a mayoral candidate, and may stay on the sidelines of the race, it does plan to push the candidates to state their positions on different aspects of the education reform agenda.

The group supports the expansion of charter schools, merit pay for teachers and the firing of teachers who are found to be ineffective. It is opposed to granting teachers tenure and conducting layoffs based on employees' seniority.

StudentsFirstNY is the state version of Ms. Rhee's national group, which claims to have 100,000 members in New York State already. The founders said that the large membership here served as an impetus to open a branch in New York. A member is anyone who visits the group's Web site and registers with an e-mail address.

On Wednesday, city officials announced that Micah Lasher, the director of state legislative affairs for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will leave his job next week as the mayor's point-person in Albany. Mr. Lasher will be the director of StudentsFirstNY.

In a statement, Mr. Bloomberg called Mr. Lasher "one of the sharpest strategic minds in the state." Over the last several years, Mr. Lasher has been personally involved in negotiating the renewal of mayoral control, the lifting of the state cap on the number of charter schools and the recent agreement between state lawmakers on a new teacher evaluation system.

The group's full board is:

Paul Tudor Jones, chairman and C.E.O., Tudor Investment Corporation and founder of the Robin Hood Foundation

Peter D. Kiernan, chairman and C.E.O., Kiernan Ventures

Joel I. Klein, executive vice president, News Corporation and former chancellor of the city Department of Education

Hon. Edward I. Koch, partner, Bryan Cave LLP and former mayor

Kenneth G. Langone, chairman, president and C.E.O, Invemed Associates, Inc.

Daniel S. Loeb, founder and C.E.O., Third Point LLC

Rafael Mayer, managing partner, Khronos LLC

Eva S. Moskowitz, founder and chief executive, Success Charter Network, and former city councilwoman

Lisette Nieves, professor at Brooklyn College and founder of Year Up NY

Michelle A. Rhee, founder and C.E.O., StudentsFirst

Dan Senor, senior adviser, Elliott Management and adjunct senior fellow for Middle East Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Douglas Band, counselor to President Clinton and Co-C.E.O., Teneo

Jane Viau, New York State Teacher of the Year 2009-2010





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