Making an Issue of Public School Education

On Saturday night, Josh Skaller’s campaign sent out an email from the candidate’s wife defending the couple’s decision to send one of their children to private school.

The Skaller email, titled “Protecting Our Son Wolf,” was sent by Josh’s wife, Kelly, and says the issue was being raised by one candidate in the race, Brad Lander.

It was the first I heard about the accusation. When asked where Lander was making this an issue, the campaign manager for Skaller said their volunteers heard about it from speaking with constituents. The campaign manager didn’t point to any article, flier or debate transcript in which Skaller’s son was mentioned, but he said it was a talking point being used by Lander’s campaign.

In the email, Kelly Skaller says her son has special needs and that enrolling him in private school was their only choice. Throughout the email, Kelly emphasizes their dedication to the neighborhood and public education.

“Wolf’s education is a private matter to us; it has everything to do with who Wolf is, and nothing to do with how we feel about public schools. Brad Lander’s attacks, however, have made this letter to you unavoidable,” she writes.

“Josh and I live in a one-and-a-half bedroom rented apartment. We do not have a car. We do not take vacations. We are not wealthy. We do spend money on our child’s education. Like you, we make sacrifices to help our child attend a school that suits his needs,” she says.

And to be clear, “Josh and I are invested in the public schools. Both of Josh’s parents went to public schools in New York City. My father attended public schools here as well. My grandmother was a public school teacher in New York City for over 20 years. I attended public schools from kindergarten through high school. I have a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I have worked with children from PS 154, PS 249, PS 321, PS 89, PS 375, PS 231, PS 54, PS 243, PS 200, PS 399, PS 186, PS 158, PS 95, PS 152, and PS 157 – just to name a few.”

In response to Kelly Skaller’s email, Lander said, “I have never questioned or attacked any of the other candidates for their choices, and never said a word about anyone’s family. It is simply false.” He then provided this flier which he said his campaign recently started handing out. It focuses on education, and identifies Lander as “the only public school parent” in the Democratic primary. The flier features supporters who are also identified as public school parents.

UPDATE [8/11]: Skaller supporter Candace Carponter said Lander raised the issue with her back in March or April. She also said Lander raised the issue with Carponter’s daughter on June 13.

Making an Issue of Public School Education