“We want to see what exactly the governor proposes, ” said Billy Easton, the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “He has talked a fair about performance, but he has also cut a lot of funding. We have to see what the particulars are.”
According to a report in today’s Daily News, Gov. Cuomo is planning to use this week’s State of the State to announce a new commission devoted to reforming education from what he calls a student-centered perspective. The address wil blast schools for being unaccountable, especially in the wake of the weekend’s news that city and state failed to come to an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system, which cost city schools millions of dollars in revenue.
“I have seen many commissions come and go, and I haven’t seen very many positives come out of them,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters. “Generally speaking they are populated by the usual suspects, and don’t have any public school parents and rarely any public school teachers.”
Ms. Haimson said that her group had particular reason to be concerned about Gov. Cuomo’s address, since, according to her, he has mostly ignored the needs of public school students in his first year in office.
“He is a very strong proponent of charter schools,” she said. “He has shown very little interest in what makes a public school system work.”
Gov. Cuomo did propose sweeping cuts to education, saying that there was much waste in the various school systems around the state, and he blasted those who said that he was short-changing the poorest’s students.
At one, point, his spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said of Mr. Easton, ”Billy Easton is the paid lobbyist for a group funded by the teacher’s union; what do you expect him to say?”
Today, Mr. Easton didn’t let up.
“The first year of the Cuomo administration moved in the wrong direction,” he said. “We increased inequality. We cut programs in the state that would help students prepare for college and prepare for life.”
Mr. Easton said he was concerned that Mr. Cuomo’s reforms would just be change for the sake of change; he cited the example of Cathie Black, the former magazine publishing executive plucked by Mayor Bloomberg to lead the city’s schools (with disastrous consequences) as the type of “experimentation” that should be avoided.
“If you want to build a better baseball team, you don’t copy the Chicago Cubs. You copy the New York Yankees. You don’t just hire someone and say ‘figure it out.’”