March Issue
March 01, 2015

Myth vs. Reality: Gov. Cuomo's anti-public education propaganda

Source: NYSUT United

CUOMO SAYS: The "cry that more money will solve the problem is false."

THE REALITY: Half of the state's school districts today are getting less state aid than in 2008. The state comptroller reports that 90 school districts — more than 13 percent of districts statewide — are designated as "fiscally stressed." The governor's claim that the state has "the highest per pupil spending in the nation" is also false. Education Week reports New York is, in fact, fourth when adjusted for regional costs. Cuomo's cherry-picked statistics also ignore the reality that New York excels in multiple measures of educational achievement and progress.

CUOMO SAYS: "Education should be the Great Equalizer."

THE REALITY: It certainly isn't an equalizer in the governor's budget. New York is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to unequal funding between rich and poor districts. Schools in poorer districts spent $8,733 per pupil less than wealthy districts, an inequity that has grown by nearly 9 percent since Andrew Cuomo took office.

CUOMO SAYS: Our schools are falling behind.

THE REALITY: While the governor likes to cite selectively from the grade 3-8 state assessments, truth is those scores dropped only after the State Education Department imposed Common Core assessments before students were exposed to the new curriculum. Despite Cuomo's negative view, New York's graduation rates are steadily improving; the rate of students going to college is climbing; and New York students are excelling on numerous national fronts.

CUOMO SAYS: The state must take over "failing" schools.

THE REALITY: The governor's proposals would centralize power over public education and strip away local control from the community and parents. If a school "fails" for three years, Cuomo wants to place it under "receivership," overriding collective bargaining agreements and firing teachers. The track record for state takeovers of schools is dismal. Our public schools are democratically governed by locally elected school boards directly accountable to voters — and the state should help by providing the funding all kids need to succeed.

CUOMO SAYS: He wants to reduce overtesting.

THE REALITY: His budget would do just the opposite — more than doubling the weight of state standardized tests in teacher evaluations and ratcheting up test prep pressure on students. He ignores research on how tests should be used to improve student learning. His "test-and-punish" education plan calls for state takeover of struggling neighborhood schools, closing teacher preparation programs and tying new teachers' fates to high-stakes standardized tests.

CUOMO SAYS: The state must take total control of teacher evaluations.

THE REALITY: Rather than Cuomo's punitive system that would usurp local control, we need a system that strengthens teaching and learning. By state law, teacher evaluations are negotiated at the local level, with 20 percent based on state testing. Cuomo is pushing a one-size-fits-all evaluation system, with 50 percent based on state test scores — a punishing plan unsupported by research. He also wants to mandate regular teacher observations be done by an "outside" observer, adding bureaucracy, increasing costs and eroding a community's role in evaluating teachers. His oft-repeated remark that the goal of evaluations should be to find 10 percent of teachers "ineffective" means that, regardless of teachers' achievement and ability, their scores would be cooked by the state to ensure an epic fail.

CUOMO SAYS: It's too easy for teachers to get tenure.