Cuomo's Slow Education

Courtney Williams's picture
Friday, January 13, 2012

Andrew Cuomo says he wants to be New York's school reform Governor. That sounds great, but it's going to require bolder leadership than setting up another education commission like the one he proposed last week.

In 2010, as part of an effort to qualify for $700 million in federal Race to the Top grants, New York passed a law that called for a teacher evaluation system. Eighteen months later, no such system is in place. The state law requires that each school district reach agreement with local teachers unions on evaluations, and unions have been unwilling to cooperate. Now there's a shocker.

New York State United Teachers, the state union, has even sued to block implementation of an evaluation system. And when the state education commissioner told New York City and nine other school districts last month that they must accept new teacher evaluations at low-performing schools or risk losing federal school improvement grants, the unions passed on the millions of dollars. So much for putting kids first. The failure is so egregious that New York was one of three states called out this week by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for failing to meet its Race to the Top obligations.

In his state of the state address last week, Mr. Cuomo declared that in his first year in office he "learned that everyone in public education has his or her own lobbyist. Superintendents have lobbyists. Principals have lobbyists. Teachers have lobbyists. School boards have lobbyists. Maintenance personnel have lobbyists. Bus drivers have lobbyists. The only group without a lobbyist? The students."

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