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Campbell, Janey feud over charter schools

Avery Bleichfeld
Campbell, Janey feud over charter schools
Andrea Campbell in front of the Grant Manor public housing development. BANNER PHOTO

In the lead up to the preliminary municipal elections, a political action committee supporting acting Mayor Kim Janey released an ad attacking City Councilor Andrea Campbell as they vie for spots in the general municipal election in November.

The ad, which was paid for by the Hospitality Workers’ Independent Expenditure PAC, targeted support Campbell has received from supporters of charter schools through the Better Boston Independent Expenditure PAC, a super PAC backing the city councilor in the mayoral race.

In the ad, a narrator says that Campbell’s campaign is supported by special interest groups that want to give money from Boston Public Schools to “other schools that discriminate against kids with special needs.”

In a press conference Sept. 7, Campbell called the claims misinformation and lies. At the conference, she called on Janey to distance herself from the hospitality workers’ PAC.

“I also believe in accountability and transparency and actually leading in such a way that does bring people together and speaks truth,” Campbell said. “I’ve often said I’m not an expert in every issue, but I lead with integrity and I’m always honest about the state of affairs. So, I’m calling on the acting mayor to disavow her super PAC that is putting out these ads specifically targeting me with lies, and to do it with a sense of urgency because this race should be about a race of ideas.”

In a statement responding to Campbell’s conference, Kirby Chandler, Janey’s campaign manager said that Campbell’s comments were “the height of hypocrisy” citing the many instances that Campbell has criticized the acting mayor and her actions.

“Instead of attacking hotel workers for expressing their political views, Campbell should condemn the dark-money, right-wing millionaires who want to privatize our public schools and have poured millions of dollars into TV ads supporting Campbell’s campaign,” Chandler said.

In her press conference, Campbell tried to draw a line between her criticism of Janey and the super PACs’ criticism of her. She said that her comments regarding Janey have been about policy.

“When I talk about holding someone accountable, including the acting mayor, it’s on the issues, it’s not personal,” Campbell said. “It’s about accountability; this is not what that is.”

In 2016, Campbell opposed a City Council resolution against the Question 2 referendum. That ballot question, which was defeated with 62% of the state voting against it, would have lifted the statewide cap on charter schools — currently limited to 18% of a school district’s budget. Charter schools get funding on a per-pupil basis; when a student goes to a charter school, their home district must pay the charter school that student’s share of the district’s budget.

The hospitality workers’ PAC is one of two super PACS supporting Janey. City Councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George each have two supporting them as well. Campbell and John Barros, who previously served as the city’s chief of economic development, each have one backing them.

In the mayoral debate Sept. 9, Campbell cited her personal history in five Boston Public Schools (BPS) and said that her responsibility has always been on improving BPS. She also said families in Mattapan only have a 5% chance of getting into a high-quality BPS school compared to other neighborhoods where she said students have an 80% chance.

“Just like I don’t judge the choice of the folks on this stage, I don’t do with my parents in the city and my job and responsibility is to make sure we improve Boston Public Schools, so our children don’t have to choose another system,” Campbell said.

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