Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cuomo Keeps Details Of His Education Agenda Under Wraps

Andrew Cuomo has previewed most of his "Opportunity Agenda" (i.e., State of the State/budget) speech already, detailing proposals from juvenile justice reform to a push for a higher minimum wage in New York State.

One area in which he hasn't publicly divulged much in the way of details yet is his education reform agenda.

We know he wants to "break" the public school "monopoly."

We know he wants to "toughen" the teacher evaluation system and streamline the 3020a process so that more teachers who are deemed "ineffective" can be quickly and efficiently fired.

We know he wants to pay back his charter school donors by either increasing or entirely eliminating the charter cap.

We know he wants more power over education policy and has dropped a hint or two about wanting control over NYSED (either via Regents appointments or via an abolished Regents Board that would give him direct control over SED.)

We know he wants the state to have more power in taking over "failing" schools and "failing" school districts in order to hand these over to his charter school buddies.

What we don't know is how he plans to go about proposing these things.

Yesterday Arthur Goldstein asked me on Twitter why I thought Cuomo was staying mum on his ed reform agenda details while he was divulging pretty much every other part of his agenda.

I told him that I thought Cuomo was staying quiet on the ed reform agenda details because they were the most controversial of his plans and he didn't want any pushback before tomorrow's speech.

I think Cuomo - who has been framing many of his budget proposals as his way of fighting "income inequality" in New York (a phrase he actually used this weekend publicly) - will frame his education reforms as crucial to providing "Opportunity for All" and will box them with his student loan relief proposal, his minimum wage hike proposal, and his economic development proposal for seven upstate regions as not an attack on teachers and teachers unions but an attack on income inequality and poverty.

It will be a direct pushback against the unions and education advocate groups decrying his stingy funding of schools and tax cap that keeps local districts from raising funds themselves - money is not the answer for the problems in the public schools, Cuomo will say, my reforms are.

This is why the union and education advocate fight against Cuomo's reform agenda isn't going to work so well - they say his education policies exacerbate economic inequality around the state, he's going to say "Nope, bad schools and bad teachers do!"

I have wanted the unions to join with parents and fight the governor on Common Core and testing, two parent concerns that have most noticeably NOT made it to his reform agenda.

Alas, the unions support both of those items, so we'll not see them create a broad coalition of stakeholders (parents, teachers, education advocates) to fight him on a couple of issues that are weak spots for him.

Cuomo has claimed his education reform agenda is what parents want, it's what he heard from people as he traveled the state campaigning for re-election.

I don't believe that, of course - first off, he doesn't like talking to people, so it's difficult to see him hearing anything from anybody who wasn't already a minion working for him.

But most importantly, we know from the King/Tisch townhalls last year that Common Core and testing are two issues of the highest concern to many parents.

If he heard anything about education on the campaign trail last year, it would be how much many people don't like Common Core or the Common Core testing the state rolled out.

Believe me, were the unions to put together a push against Common Core and testing here in NY, couple that pushback with an attack on Cuomo's funding policies and pro-privatization policies, they'd have a chance to beat him back in the fight.

But they're not taking that route because they can't take that route - they support both CCSS and testing - and so we're going to see a fight against Cuomo and his reforma agenda that is ineffective and already over before it really starts.

You can be pretty certain that whatever Cuomo pushes tomorrow, much of it will end up as law after the budget is done in March.

Quite frankly, I'm already thinking about the pivot from "How do we stop Cuomo's insane education reform agenda?" to "How do we destroy Cuomo over his insane education reform agenda?" because my sense is, this is a done deal.

As always, hope I'm wrong about this.

But I'm not feeling optimistic this is going to play out any other way than the way Cuomo wants it to.


  1. 2 QUESTIONS: 1) What time on Wed is his speech? 2) If he pushes through his changes to evaluation with the budeget would it go into effect for the remainder of the school year or become effective starting in Sept? Any thoughts?

    1. Speech is in the afternoon, I think.

      I think the changes would NOT go into effect this school year.

  2. You're right. Teachers plus parents is the way to fight this. Too bad the union doesn't see it like that.

    1. Actually the NYSUT has been getting parents involved in these matters since day one. It just depends on your areas local. Please stop by to see what you can do to help your local.

  3. Excellent points read the attached letters from ST Caucus to the NYSUT officers. It illustrates exaxtly what you are talking about.

  4. The other big questionis as follows: Will the evaluation changes be for all districts in the exact same manner? For example, in NYC we have way more observation cycles than the rest of NYS. Even within NYS each district can set higher than the minimum number of observations. (In other words, will NYC observation cycles be more in synch with the rest of the the State?)