ALBANY—More than 1,000 teachers and public education advocates marched through the Empire State Plaza concourse on Monday, clogging security checkpoints into the Capitol and rallying on the Million Dollar Staircase in a boisterous protest of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s education reform proposals.
Led by New York State United Teachers, the primary opponent of Cuomo’s plans to overhaul the state’s teacher evaluation system and tenure laws and boost charter schools, protesters arrived from around the state in 15 buses as well as by car from local school districts.
Carrying signs and even a cardboard cutout of Cuomo adorned with a NYSUT scarf, they chanted, “hey, hey, ho, ho, this corporate greed has got to go,” “shame on you” and “this is what Democracy looks like.”
Members of both houses of the Legislature attended the rally as it reached the Capitol staircase that’s in between the Senate and Assembly chambers. Assembly education committee chair Cathy Nolan, a Queens Democrat, was met with cheers when she encouraged teachers to continue to fight for school funding and respect for their profession.
“You have to be here to make your voice heard, or you will not be,” Nolan said. “I know it’s not easy, but it matters.”
The response from the Cuomo administration?
Their voices were heard in the hallways outside the chambers, and apparently also by the Cuomo administration, whose offices are on the second floor. Their screams further motivate the governor to pursue his agenda, spokesman Richard Azzopardi said in a statement.
“The governor is fighting to reform a system that spends more money per student than any other state in the nation while condemning hundreds of thousands of children to failing schools over the last decade,” Azzopardi said. “The louder special interests scream to protect the status quo—and today they were screaming at the top of their lungs—the more we know we’re right.”
Classic authoritarianism from Cuomo.
He doesn't care that the polling shows the public backs teachers, he doesn't care that parents and teachers are fighting against his agenda.
All he cares about is ramming through a privatization agenda that has been bought and paid for by his Wall Street and hedge fundie constituency, one that will enlarge the charter school sector, set up more public schools for failure by putting ever more mandates onto them (but not on charter schools!) and put in place a state takeover policy of schools and school districts that will allow private entities to take them over, cancel union contracts and run them the way they want.