Cuomo's Policies, Starving Public Education, Created Nation's Most Segregated Schools -- Teachout Says

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Former gubernatorial candidate Prof. Teachout

Governor Cuomo is right about one thing—we need to roll up our sleeves and address education for children in New York. Children in New York need real investment and support.

But it’s not about teachers, or the schools themselves. We have talented, dedicated teachers and good schools when they are properly funded.

No. Our crisis is a leadership crisis and Governor Cuomo is the leader, threatening to dismantle instead of support and enrich public schools. His policies don’t come from rolling up his sleeves and visiting schools, but from talking to big donors. He has visited only one or two schools in the last four years and his proposals show his lack of understanding.

His state education policy is the problem.

We have the most segregated schools in the nation, as a result of his policies. We have the greatest school funding inequality we have ever seen in New York, and over the last four years, the problem has only gotten worse.

Today, the Governor provided no real solutions in this budget—instead, his “solutions” largely direct much-needed money away from schools.

Even at the higher end, the total amount of money he suggests—even $1.1 billion—is half of the $2 billion suggested by the Regents and legislative leaders, and the $5.7 billion needed to meet bare minimum constitutional requirements.

And that $1.1 billion is only available if the legislature goes along with all of his privatization and testing proposals.

In other words, he is holding children hostage to the demands of his Wall Street donors and his personal political motivations, while kids go to school in overcrowded classrooms without arts, sports, or counselors.

He is right that we have one system for the rich and one for the poor, but the reasons is clear: the disparate funding that is his legacy.

His proposal to lift the cap on charter schools will deprive public schools of resources and risks corruption.

The private school tax credit would take more money from public schools.

His proposal for pre-K funding is laughably small, a reversal of his promise to provide universal pre-K to all four year olds.

His other shocking solution—his effort to attract talent to classrooms—is to attack teachers as monopolists and molesters.

The governor’s attacks are out of line, offensive and nonsensical. Teachers aren’t the enemy of children. Instead, the threat is that our Governor is refusing to fund our schools even at Constitutionally-mandated levels.

Instead of fighting for our children, Andrew Cuomo is doing the bidding of a handful of wealthy, anti-union hedge fund managers, people like Dan Loeb who financed his campaign and have spent millions to take control of New York education policy.

Research shows that children thrive in small class sizes, with art and music, and when teachers are trusted and every child can be seen for who they are. We know how to provide children great education. It’s about funding pre-K, small class sizes, arts and music, counselors, and living up to our constitutional obligations.

This is a moment when those who really care about public schools need to stand up.

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