Cuomo has also expressed interest in Buffalo, at one point calling for a “death penalty” for schools and districts that fail to meet state standards. Last year, he was involved in conversations about mayoral control of the district, and was the force behind the new receivership law that provides a mechanism for turning individual schools over to outside entities. Some in reform circles say the law fell short by not creating a mechanism for the state to take over entire districts.
There is current speculation that the governor, who has enjoyed significant financial and political support in reform circles, may be looking to push for a charter district during the next legislative session. That would involve turning a portion of district schools over to an outside entity, although it is not clear whether it would be a charter school.
“One of the things the corporate reformers would like to see is the takeover of an entire district,” said Easton of AQE. “They want whole districts.”
With Cuomo's job approval numbers in the toilet (and they're still there - a new Siena poll out today has his approval down again) and his numbers on education even lower, he cannot try to push this kind of thing statewide without taking a political hit.
But to do it in a "struggling" district like Buffalo?
That's safe territory:
“The national and statewide politics have taken a U-turn because of pure voter sentiment,” said David C. Bloomfield, a professor of education leadership at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. “The astounding 20 percent opt-out rate was a wake-up call that he had misread the electorate. It’s quite obvious that parents who vote in great numbers are aligned with the teachers’ position.”
Cuomo’s evolving education message, however, carries ramifications for other state leaders who embraced his earlier mantra, chief among them the new state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, who built her reputation on school reform.
It also could shift more focus to struggling urban school districts such as Buffalo, where Cuomo still could push for heavy-handed reforms, but alienate fewer voters than he would by forcing statewide changes.
“I don’t think he has any idea about education policy or proclivity about education policy,” Bloomfield said. “It’s all about politics.”
Indeed it is about the politics and Cuomo has a bunch of hedge fund managers/education reformers to make happy in return for all those yummy yummy political donations they give.
He cannot abandon reform completely, though he has signaled "retreat" on some things like teacher evaluations and testing (though it remains to be seen how real that "retreat" actually - so far, Cuomo has not released his education policy proposals for the next year.)
Thus going full speed ahead on reform in a place like Buffalo, where he won't take a hit politically from the suburban moms and dads pissed off about Common Core and the Endless Testing regime, looks to be the plan for the next year or so.
Barring criminal charges against him, of course.
If you're a teacher in Buffalo, look out.