Poll: New Yorkers Disapprove of Cuomo’s Education Agenda

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is not getting voters’ praise for his education reform activities. In fact, he’s earning scorn, as his approval rating has dropped to a new low of 50%, says a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The New York Observer’s Jillian Jorgensen reports that teachers unions have criticized Cuomo in television ads, on social media, and wherever else the unions could find a platform, because of the governor’s call for stricter teacher evaluations based on students’ performance on state standardized exams. The unions are also fighting against Cuomo’s position that tenure should also be tied to those same evaluations.

The push to derail the governor’s agenda seems to be working based on a poll that showed 55% of voters trusted the unions more than Cuomo to improve education in the state of New York, and only 28% of voters saying they trusted Cuomo more.

When voters were asked to rate the governor’s handling of education policy alone, 28% approved and 63% did not. Voters have, however, shown they are concerned about education, with 24% saying it should be the top priority for the governor and the legislature.

The voters are saying education is more important than issues that have always been highest on most peoples’ list, like the economy and taxes. Cuomo’s overall approval rating fell eight points from his December standing of 58%.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets his lowest grade on education, which is the top priority for voters, a grade so bad it pulls down his whole job approval score. He’s just at the 50 percent mark,” Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said in a statement.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is a supporter of the teachers unions, which has made Cuomo’s war with the unions a war with de Blasio as well. One of the main issues that separates the two leaders is the disagreement between the two concerning charter schools.

In other areas where the two have battled, voters fall in behind the governor, notably on the minimum wage. New Yorkers, 73% to 24%, support raising the minimum wage, but more back the governor’s proposal than de Blasio’s. Cuomo has called for an $11.50 per hour minimum wage and has 68% of voters behind him, while de Blasio’s plan for a $13 minimum wage has voters split 47% for and 47% against.

26% of voters said that Cuomo  most closely reflects their political views, and 22% said the same for de Blasio.

“Cuomo by a nose in the battle for the ideological hearts of New Yorkers, but half of all voters aren’t giving their hearts to either leader,” Mr. Carroll said in a statement.

The Quinnipiac University poll comes at the same time that Cuomo is fighting for his $142 billion budget proposal, which lays out an increase in education funding and ties to a series of changes to the New York state public school system, including a revamp of teachers’ evaluation and tenure systems. Gov. Cuomo and lawmakers have until March 31 to get the spending plan in place, writes Jon Campbell of The Journal News.

The poll included 1,228 state voters who were questioned by phone. The margin of error for the poll was 2.8 percentage points.