FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2017
More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE)

Cuomo Slams New Yorkers with a Betsy-DeVos-Influenced Education Budget; Senate and Assembly Must Strike Back

Andrew Cuomo’s recently released proposed Education Budget eliminates vital education Foundation Aid just one year from now, increases the number of charter schools by removing the charter school cap in NYC, and increases charter school funding. The Governor’s proposed budget is a political stunt right out of the Betsy DeVos public education starvation playbook.

Betsy DeVos, the highly controversial and newly confirmed U.S. Secretary of Education, is known for her commitment to diverting taxpayer funds for public education to religious, charter and private schools. She has spent millions of her inherited fortune on political donations with the expectation of a return on her investment. In acknowledging the outrage of critics nationwide, DeVos remarked, “I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now, I simply concede the point.” DeVos has also called Andrew Cuomo a “leader” in school privatization efforts.

Although a resident of Michigan, DeVos’ pay-to-play political influence has reached well beyond her home state. In 2015, she provided funding to support Andrew Cuomo’s education tax credit scheme. While that attempt to push unpopular religious, charter, and private education vouchers failed, Cuomo has continued his efforts to force it into NY through the budget process ever since.

Undeterred by the overwhelming public sentiment against his pro-privatization and charter tax credit, Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2017 budget freezes the foundation aid formula, brazenly ignoring a decade of student enrollment growth and the associated spending increases required to address this growth. This disproportionately harms the State’s most fiscally distressed school districts and will serve to widen the opportunity gap.

Now, after years of state budget-gap elimination take-backs and funding that ignores poverty and student needs, New Yorkers have called on their elected leaders to make public education whole again.

Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent, Long Island Opt Out founder, and NYSAPE founding member said, “The DeVos confirmation turns the focus of NYS public school advocates back to NY state and the leadership that is aligned with the DeVos agenda. Both Governor Cuomo and Senator Flanagan have paved the way for the dismantling of our public schools through support of APPR and high stakes testing mandates, CC curriculum, data tracking, and the defunding of our public schools. Clearly Cuomo and Flanagan’s support of privatization efforts speaks more to their campaign funding rather than the best interests of our children.”

Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent and special education teacher said, “Perhaps the Governor thought that the distraction of DeVos’ confirmation would provide cover for this latest attack on public education. Coupled with his refusal to amend the disastrous Education Transformation Act and his continued disregard for the concerns of parents and educators, the proposed 2017 budget proves that Governor Cuomo is hell-bent on dismantling public education. Cuomo may be trying to sell himself as a progressive champion of public education but his test, starve, and punish policies are proof positive that he is that not that different from Betsy DeVos.”

“Let’s not forget that we are still saddled with Receivership, flawed learning standards, high-stakes testing and no relief for struggling schools. This budget only adds insult to injury. Not only has nothing changed, the Governor is making things worse. New York will send a strong message by continuing to opt out,” said Eileen Graham, Rochester City public school parent and Black Student Leadership organization founder.

“Our schools are not a Times Square cardboard box shell game, and Governor Cuomo needs to be stopped. When the NYS Board of Regents and education organizations across the state call for a $2-billion-dollar budget increase to maintain current school programs, New Yorkers reject a Cuomo budget that is barely half that amount. The Senate and Assembly must protect public education and fiercely fight back,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“Governor Cuomo’s continued starvation of New York public schools shows his clear intent to support the DeVos privatization agenda to end public education. Shame on him!” Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director of BATs and Long Island public school parent and educator.

Kemala Karmen, whose children attend New York City public schools, warned the governor: “The debacle of the DeVos nomination and confirmation has awoken a sleeping giant: parents. We are now riled and organized and we will not sit by idly if you or the legislature try to give our children any less than they deserve.”

The NYS Senate and Assembly must strike back and stand up for our kids.

NYSAPE is calling on New Yorkers to take action and send a letter to the Governor to stop the privatization of our schools and to contact their assembly member and senator to stand up for public education.

NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state.

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