Jake Jacobs describes the dramatic ouster of fake Democrats from the State Senate and a changed landscape in New York.

Until the last election, Governor Andrew Cuomo worked closely with an odd coalition of Tepublicans and fake Democrats in the State Senate to give charter schools whatever they wanted. Cuomo collected millions of dollars from hedge fund managers and Wall Street who love charter schools.

The so-called Independent Democratic Conference caucused with Republicans to assure Republican Control of the State Senate.

The new State Senators are anti-charter and anti-standardized testing.

Perhaps just as significant as the Ocasio-Cortez “earthquake” was the September 13th aftershock, where six other insurgent, grassroots-backed New York candidates won primaries in State Senate races against members of the former Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a controversial group of eight breakaway lawmakers who shared power, perks—and donors—with senate Republicans for over seven years.

All six “No IDC” challengers handily beat their Republican opponents in the general election November 6, including Alessandra Biaggi, a former legal counsel in the Governor Andrew Cuomo administration who ran on the promise to “stop siphoning money to privately run charter schools” and a call to prevent charters from expanding in New York.

Despite being outspent, Biaggi defeated Jeff Klein, the ringleader of the IDC, who funneled upwards of $700,000 in charter industry PAC money to IDC members. Working with Republicans, Klein repeatedly blocked funding for needy public schools while dramatically increasing per-pupil spending for charters. A thirteen year incumbent, Klein lost 54-46 percent, out-hustled by Biaggi who attended public schools in Pelham before hitting the Ivy league, and at thirty-two years old still owes over $180,000 in student debt.

Defeating another IDC member awash in charter PAC money was progressive Robert Jackson, a longtime New York City Councilman who was an original lead plaintiff in the original 1993 Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit seeking increased funding for impoverished schools.

A fierce critic of school privatization, Jackson is eager to take on “groups such as StudentsFirst who push a non-transparent, corporate agenda that makes money off of children’s backs, strips schools and districts of resources, and undermines public education,” his chief of staff Johanna Garcia tells me in an email. In 2011, Jackson sued the city to stop charter school co-locations, or the takeover of space in public school buildings. He has also been a staunch supporter of the opt-out movement, championing legislation in the New York City Council to reduce standardized testing.

Likely to have a profound impact in Albany, Senator-elect Jackson’s position on standardized testing is resolute: “The sooner and farther away we move from standardized testing, the quicker we can focus on supporting learning environments that are responsive and include teaching critical thinking skills, small class sizes, arts and science programs, recess, and funding for resources, social services and enrichment opportunities.”

In Queens, another progressive Democrat to unseat a pro-charter IDC member is Jessica Ramos, a former aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio with a background as a labor organizer and immigration activist. Also a public school product, Ramos is a mom of two who “cannot wait to opt-out” when her oldest son enters third grade next year. Seeing the stress and waste of the testing regime, she “absolutely” backs legislation to eliminate state testing mandates.

Ramos opposes diverting funding from public schools to charters who she sees pushing out high need students in order to preserve their “brand.” Like Robert Jackson, Ramos supports the NAACP moratorium on new charter schools as well as the longtime fight for equitable public school funding.

Also in Queens, former New York City Comptroller John Liu defeated former IDC state senator Tony Avella, who in 2009, claimed to be adamantly anti-charter. But in 2014, Avella joined the IDC and voted for budgets that increased funding for charter co-locations and school choice. Senator-elect Liu wants to prevent the growth of charters and make them pay rent to the city, while also reducing the emphasis on standardized testing.

Cuomo won’t be able to squash progressive legislation anymore. There’s a new posse in Albany.