The elections came and went. For some it was a drama, but for most it was no event. During his re-election campaign, governor Cuomo publicized his priorities and direction for the second term. Let’s review what his priorities are in education.
“What I will have thus far: Marriage quality, gun safety, on a different level pension reform, fiscal reform and education reform, teacher evaluation, performance.”… “These things are profound changes that 50 years from now will have made a significant difference in this state.”…“I want to focus on the performance,” Cuomo said. “Does that upset the teachers union? Yes, it does. By the way, the first time I ran they didn’t endorse me, they didn’t endorse me.”1
Cuomo could be heard on the radio two days after the elections, recapitulating his achievements and reiterating direction of his efforts in the 2nd term as governor. The interview complemented a statement he made few days before the election day.
“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”2
His statements were hardly a news. Cuomo has been a strong supporter of charter schools in the past. He’s giving speeches at charter school rallies. He is riding a trend devised and funded by powerful players in Washington, DC. It’s a trend that will secure him access to the money should Cuomo need it for his presidential campaign in 2016.
NYS Ruling Political Factions
Cuomo is not a lonely crusader against public education. In Albany, both ruling factions, Democrats and Republicans, created a synergic relationship. They produced the state budget on time 4 times in row after a decade of late budgets. They made an agreement. Collaboratively, they tapped into the public funds by creating the Gap Elimination Adjustment. They also instituted the 2% tax cap. (More resources on the GEA and the tax cap). Both measures effectively reduced the funds for education while, at the same time then-governor Peterson signed New York up for the Common Core learning standards increasing significantly the costs residents have to put up with. In addition, the teachers evaluation (APPR) was attached to the Common Core package for public schools. Charters don’t use the “attachment” that doubles the cost of the learning standards. The political elite has their priorities and direction set—to break public education by implementing a private competition—charters—funded by public.
There are organizations that were originally established for advancement of public education. For example, NYS Deptartment of Education, NYS School Boards Association, several school superintendents associations, NYSPTA, PTO, local BOEs, teachers unions, and various larger or smaller foundations. What are their priorities? How do their missions or objectives reflect the privatization trend?
First, parents turned to the leaders of those organizations with many questions, but they got very few answers so far. So they do their own research. They raise awareness among other parents and politicians about educational deforms. They are slowly, but steadily increasing their numbers. They set their priorities and formed a grassroots movement. Many are connected to the group NYS Allies for Public Education that brings together individuals who set their priorities to preserving the public education.
Are there parents in your school district who are advocating for public education? Is preserving public education your priority? Have you considered to write a letter to Cuomo, or your representative in support of public education?
1 Reisman, “Cuomo.”
2 Lovett, “Cuomo Vows to Bust School ‘Monopoly’ If Re-Elected.”