New York’s Cuomo Vows to Break ‘Education Monopoly’

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Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that if he is re-elected on November 4, he will push to create a new round of teacher evaluation standards in an effort to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies.”

In a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, Cuomo said that in order to make changes to the underperforming public education system, better teachers are key, as well as competition from charter schools.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

Cuomo went on to say the school system needs “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

According to the governor, New York spends the most per-student in the nation, but is only getting back average results on its investment.

“That is not okay on any level,” Cuomo said. “Our kids deserve better than just an average education system.”

Cuomo said he expects opposition from teacher unions who “don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

In 2012, Cuomo created a new system connecting teacher evaluations to Common Core test scores.  However, the implementation of some of the standards have been delayed by two years due to problems associated with the roll out of Common Core.

The governor is also pushing a $2 billion bond act, calling it the “single best thing” New York could do.  The act would allow schools to purchase technology for its students such as iPads, laptops, and better Internet access.  Schools would also be able to build new classrooms to expand pre-kindergarten programs and help the issue of overcrowding occurring in some New York City schools where trailers are currently being used as classrooms.

“We jumpstart the technology revolution in education,” said Cuomo of the bond act. “Which is long, long overdue.”

However, groups like the Empire Center say it is not financially responsible to use an eight-year bond act to pay for technology that will be outdated by the time the bonds are repaid — with interest.

“They’re assuming a box full of iPads that some school buys next year are still going to be useful and not obsolete in 2022,” said EJ McMahon of the Empire Center. “Nobody believes that.”

According to the Citizens Budget Commission, the state is coming increasingly closer to its debt limit and should focus on restraining borrowing.  The group went on to say an assessment of what schools actually need has yet to be done.

While teachers and school administrators support the bond, they did not ask for the money and are concerned about spending so much on technology that will soon become obsolete.  While teachers support additional technology funding, they worry about other costs associated with that, such as better Internet service and teacher training.

The act will appear on the Tuesday, November 4 ballot as the Smart Schools Bond Act.