Governor Cuomo’s Misguided Agenda is Harming Public Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 5, 2015
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.comLisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) –

                         Governor Cuomo’s Misguided Agenda is Harming Public Education

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of 50 groups statewide, has sent a letter to Governor Cuomo, responding to the questions posed in a letter from his office addressed to Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch on December 18 and shared widely by the media.

It is evident that the Governor has a misguided agenda about the state of our public schools and what strategies should be used to improve them.  In our letter, we challenge the current reform agenda and advocate for education policies that have been proven to work, based on evidence and experience.

<span “font-size:12.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:”times=”” roman”,”serif”;=”” mso-bidi-font-weight:bold;mso-bidi-font-style:italic”=””>“Governor Cuomo says his responsibility is to ‘represent the students’ and that he wants ‘to do the best we can for the students and for their education.’  If so, he should listen to parents throughout the state who truly want the best for their children and who believe that the policies he is proposing —to double-down on privatization, high-stakes testing, Common Core and data sharing—are severely undermining the quality of their schools,” Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.


Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt-Out said,  “The letter claims that during the campaign, the Governor ‘spoke to New Yorkers all across the state that [sic] had many questions about…what we could do to fundamentally improve public education.’  We do not know to whom he spoke, but he clearly did not speak to public school parents, who in surveys and polls overwhelming reject the top-down policies from Albany that are leading our schools in the wrong direction.  We urge him to hold town hall meetings throughout the state, to listen to parents and hear directly their views about a better course of action, based on sufficient and equitable funding, local control, diminishing the focus on privatization and testing, and treating their children as the valuable unique individuals they are, rather than test scores or data points.”

In our letter to the Governor, http://www.nysape.org/nysape-response-letter-to-governor-on-public-education.html, NYSAPE addresses issues ranging from charter school expansion, mayoral control, teacher accountability system, and the Common Core, to consolidation of districts and the selection process for the Board of Regents.  Instead of harsh political rhetoric from Albany pushing privatization and high-stakes testing, New York students deserve support from elected and appointed officials who respect and understand what kind of support public schools need to succeed.

For example, NYSAPE’s response regarding charter schools notes that according to the 2010 amendment to the New York charter law, before charters are renewed or allowed to replicate, they must show they <enroll and retain equal numbers of at risk students as the districts in which they are located, and yet neither the Board of Regents nor SUNY have ever rejected a charter proposal on these grounds – despite the fact that many charters have sky high student suspension and attrition rates>.  Neither SUNY nor the Regents have provided adequate financial oversight, and in 95 percent of charter audits, the State Comptroller’s Office has found corruption or mismanagement.  Yet when the Deputy Comptroller wrote a letter to the state’s major charter-school regulators asking for stronger oversight, he received no response.

On the question of improving teacher quality, NYSAPE responds that since
2012, due to “reform,” teacher morale is at a 20 yearlow. New reports have shown that there have beendramatic drops in enrollment in teacher preparation programs—New York State experienced a 22% drop in two years.   It is likely that the majority of that 22% were highly qualified candidates who had other career options.  It is clear that the rhetoric of teacher evaluation and the assignment of blame to teachers have made teaching a less attractive profession. Moving teacher evaluation systems from the control of local boards of education to politicians in Albany has resulted in a dysfunctional evaluation system that goes against current research. Worst of all, it has created unintended consequences for students, as teachers are incentivized to drill students for the tests.

The parents and educators of New York want strong and appropriate learning standards with a focus on classroom learning not testing.  Without equitable funding throughout the state, schools will continue to be at a disadvantage and not have the essential resources to help students meet their full potential. Local control has been eroded by those who want to privatize public education and destroy the most vital cornerstone of our democracy. NYSAPE and its allies around the state stand together for proven strategies to help all children succeed.

NYSAPE’s full response to the Governor’s questions was sent not only to Governor Cuomo but to every legislator in the State of New York as well as to the Board of Regents.  You can find the full NYSAPE response here: http://www.nysape.org/nysape-response-letter-to-governor-on-public-education.html

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