Cuomo, Teachers Unions Continue to Battle in New York


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing criticism from the United Federation of Teachers in New York as the group launches a multi-million dollar ad campaign tearing apart the governor’s “damaging education agenda.”

The ad, titled “History,” argues that Cuomo wants to “pile on high stakes testing. Privatize classrooms. And divert money away from public schools by giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy.”

According to UFT President Michael Mulgrew, the ad was created in an effort to counteract the numerous pro-Cuomo ads currently being pushed on television stations across the state, writes Ben Chapman for The New York Daily News.

The majority of those ads are funded by the pro-charter school group StudentsFirstNY.  The union has been at odds with the governor over charter schools, as most of them are not unionized.

“We see the Governor is trying to rewrite history with the help of his hedge fund pals,” Mulgrew told the Daily News. “Those ads are misleading. We want to set the record straight.”

At the same time, New York State United Teachers, the largest teachers union in the state, is set to launch their own $1 million ad campaign against the governor.

Unions have been in conflict with the governor over a number of education reforms he introduced into the state budget, including provisions that would have more weight placed on student test scores on standardized tests so that they would count for 50% of teacher evaluations.  The rest of the evaluation would be based on classroom observations.  An additional reform would see merit pay offered to highly rated teachers and scholarships awarded to those looking to teach in the state.

The final version of the state budget does include some portions of the teacher evaluation changes proposed by Cuomo.  System guidelines will be written by the State Department of Education, including what percentage is based on student test scores, as well as classroom observations.

An administrative official for the governor said the ad was merely a political attack.

“This is political operatives at the teachers union who spend millions of dollars in their political spin machine to pad their $500,000 salaries at the expense of New York’s students.”

The ad is set to air in New York City, followed by the rest of the state later in the week.  The ad will run for a week or even longer, set to air during popular shows, including “Scandal,” “The Blacklist,” and “Mad Men,” as well as during Yankees and Mets baseball games, writes Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post.

“They were selected carefully for an audience that might be a little more educated, more engaged,” said Brad Adgate, an analyst at Horizon Media, a media buying agency.