Dan Loeb’s Political Offense

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The investor is a target because he supports charter schools.

Daniel S. Loeb in 2012
Daniel S. Loeb in 2012 PHOTO: STEVE MARCUS/REUTERS

Most of the world knows Daniel Loeb as the activist hedge-fund investor who sometimes shakes up complacent corporate managers. But he’s also a disrupter of the status quo in New York education as a major supporter of charter schools. This explains why he has become a target of progressive politicians for a single ill-phrased Facebook post.

Mr. Loeb donates to New York politicians of both parties who support charter schools, including Governor Andrew Cuomo. Most Albany Democrats are beholden to the teachers unions, including Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who is opposed by a group of independent Democrats led by Jeffrey Klein who sometimes join with Republicans on education policy.

Mr. Loeb responded with a Facebook post. “Thank God for Jeff Klein and those who stand for educational choice and support Charter funding,” Mr. Loeb wrote. “Meanwhile hypocrites like Stewart-Cousins who pay fealty to powerful union thugs and bosses do more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.”

The hood reference was unfortunate, not least because it gave unions and the left a chance to pounce. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who tries to undermine charters at every opportunity, demanded that Mr. Loeb resign as chair of Success Academy schools. Randi Weingarten, the union chief who recently said the school-choice movement has its roots in “racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia and homophobia,” also piled on. Mr. Loeb took down his Facebook post and apologized by saying “I regret the language I used in expressing my passion for educational choice.”

But Mr. Loeb has the right enemies, and no one should think their main objection is his Facebook post. Mr. Loeb’s real offense is that he donates his time and money to providing children, especially poor and minority children, a path out of the dead end that is so many failing New York public schools.

Union leaders and their political subsidiaries know they can’t defend their school record on moral grounds, so they seek to label anyone who favors choice as racists. That’s the point of Ms. Weingarten’s recent speeches, including a letter last week in these pages after we called her out in an editorial.

Ms. Weingarten has also bullied government pension funds to stop investing in Mr. Loeb’s Third Point hedge fund and other funds whose owners donate to charters. Mr. Loeb has the investing track record to withstand such a boycott, and to his credit he has remained a public supporter of charters. The shame is that so few other rich Americans are willing to stand up to political bullies on behalf of poor children.

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