NY Gov Cuomo Proposes Reforms, Looks to Get Involved

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New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to improve education throughout the state next year, and his initiatives may include a change to the teacher evaluation system that would see a reduction in the number of bad teachers in the state.

The reforms were discussed in a letter to state Education Commissioner John King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, which asked for their suggestions on how to best input the changes.  In addition, Cuomo made it clear that he would like a larger role in the process.

“I wish I could say I run education in this state. I don’t. It is run by the Board of Regents. I don’t even appoint anyone to the Board of Regents,” he said Thursday at a stop in upstate Schenectady.

Jim Malatras, the governor’s operations chief, said Cuomo plans to become a part of the process “through the budget process” in his push for reforms, writes Aaron Short for The New York Post.

The changes, which would in effect give him ownership over the state’s public school system, would be some of the most ambitious ever proposed by the governor, whose time in office has included legalizing same-sex marriage, increasing gun control, and making changes to the state’s pension system.

Cuomo could see major support for his reforms, as Education commissioner John King is set to leave his position for a federal role.   In addition, the Board of Regents currently has a vacancy and six members are up for re-election this March, as well as one who is not seeking reappointment.  Recently, Senate Republicans, who support Cuomo and have suggested reforms to the Regents selection process in the past, have won the majority in the chamber.  The state teacher’s union is also weakened after an effort to elect Democrats to the Senate, which was not successful.  All of this is happening while the public is still facing some tension over the rollout of the Common Core standards in the state.

However, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver still stands in Cuomo’s way.  Silver holds the majority of the power concerning who leads the Regents, and thus, education policy within the state, reports Jessica Bakeman for CapitalNewYork.

The Education Department differs from many agencies in the state in that the governor does not control it, and the commissioner is not a gubernatorial appointment.  According to the state constitution, the Board of Regents is able to appoint its own commissioner and set education policy through regulation.

“I wish I could say I run education in this state. I don’t,” Cuomo said at an event in Schenectady on Thursday.  “It’s run by the Board of Regents,” he continued. “I don’t even appoint anyone to the Board of Regents. But I want them on record with what they believe is the best advice to reform the education system.”’