Defending the Indefensible

In politics, your friends can make you look bad. If they stake out an absurd position that you aren’t in a position to contradict, there’s nothing to do but grin and forge ahead.

That’s exactly what just happened to NY Ed Commissioner David Steiner, one of the most forward-thinking education leaders in any state. With union-backed lawmakers unwilling to pass a Regents-recommended charter cap lift, Steiner and his staff still had to submit something in the Race to the Top. So they tried their best, a process that involved lots of resume padding.

They even told the feds that New York’s cap actually does not “effectively limit” charters because any public school could theoretically become oneóand therefore there are 4,740 potential charter schools in the state.

That’s like me claiming a maximum bench press of 25,000 pounds because that’s how much weight is available in my gym and theoretically I could lift all of it.

Hey, can’t blame a guy for trying.

Just this morning, a similar thing happened to AFT President Randi Weingarten. Everyone knows that Randi genuinely cares about kids and has shown an admirable (if constrained) interest in reform. But with MSNBC hosts asking why her New York affiliates would give up $700 million in order to hurt charter schools, she could onlyÖ Well, just watch: