From the Morning Memo:

As thousands of charter school advocates, students and parents descended on Albany for an outdoor rally at the Capitol on Wednesday, the United Federation of Teachers held a smaller, counter-gathering indoors.

Appearing at the rally was Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who pushed back in a speech against the education reform group StudentsFirstNY.

The group, which is aligned with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on education issues, had criticized Stewart-Cousins earlier this year after she said the rhetoric over school policy this year is disparaging to teachers.

“You would have thought I said a horrible thing,” she said. “I said that there seems to be a lot of demonization of teachers.”

She told the UFT that the debate over education policy changes should be broadened to include teachers.

“And I said that we all agree that we have to improve our educational system, certainly for those kids who are not having the success we want them to have,” Stewart-Cousins said. “The conversation has to be broader because there is not one solution. Our teachers are our partners in achieving the results we want. Am I right?”

Cuomo’s $142 billion budget this year has put him at even greater odds with the UFT and its statewide umbrella group, the New York State United Teachers.

The governor is seeking to raise the cap on charter schools statewide by 100, craft a more stringent teacher evaluation system and make it easier for the state to takeover failing schools through an independent monitor.

Cuomo has insisted he’s not trying to smear teachers in the process of achieving reform, pointing to the merit bonuses he’s proposing for high-perfomring teachers.

Stewart-Cousins’s appearance at the UFT rally is another sign in the more assertive posture Senate Democrats in the mainline conference have taken with Cuomo as he enters his second term this year.

Democrats in the chamber have been more forceful in pushing back against the governor’s education priorities in particular and were critical of his including IDC Sen. Jeff Klein in the closed-door budget talks.

As education issues tend to do, the usual political fault lines are turned on their ear: Republicans and Democrats alike spoke at the pro-charter rally, which was organized by Families for Excellent Schools.

“This is an issue that transcends partisanship,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said after speaking. “It really does. Everyone who cares about their children and I’m speaking not just to parents, but teachers, but elected officials, we should be pulling together on this. There’s no reason this is a divisive issue.”

Passing Cuomo’s education plans is “the only way we’re going to see transformative change for education,” she added.