Archives for category: Cuomo, Andrew

During the gubernatorial campaign in Néw York, the Working Families Party planned to endorse law professor Zephyr Teachout to challenge Cuomo, but at the last minute Cuomo won their endorsement by promising to campaign for Democratic control of the State Senate. Isn’t that a strange promise from a Democratic governor? He immediately broke it, did not campaign for Democratic candidates, and Republicans held control of the State Senate.

Teachout–a complete unknown with no money–ran against Cuomo in the Democratic primary and won 1/3 of the vote. She did not endorse anyone in the general election.

Now she and the Working Families Party have teamed up to release a report that will blast Cuomo for his support of charter schools. Today “they plan to release a report entitled “Corruption in Education: The Hedge Fund Takeover of New York’s Schools.”

“Many of Cuomo’s top donors are funding the charter school lobby, Teachout charges, singling out in the report Carl Icahn, Paul Tudor Jones and Dan Loeb for pouring “more than $10 million into state lobbying and election campaigns since the beginning of 2014, with electrifying results.”

How refreshing to have a clear, independent, unbought prominent figure speak truth to power, fearlessly!

Zephyr Teachout, who ran against Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary and won 1/3 of the vote despite no money and no name recognition, has written a brilliant column in The Daily Beast, warning that the millionaires and billionaires who bought the State Senate now are aiming to take over public schools.

She compares their strategy to “The Hunger Games.”

“The same hedge-fund managers who bought the New York State Senate now want to take over public education in the state and strip it bare, while they celebrate excessive wealth in high style. They’re pushing for a special session in Albany this December to cement the takeover of education policy….”

“In New York’s Hunger Games, just like in the books and movies, those in the Capitol live in a very different reality than the rest of us. In our Capitol, Albany lawmakers enjoy a flood of money, personal accounts, and protection for incumbents against attacks. In the Districts—the cities and towns of New York—the reality is bleaker. Citizens must work to survive and make do with the limited resources afforded to them by the Capitol….”

“Like President Snow, who starves the Districts, tests the residents with the Hunger Games competition, and then sets out to destroy them, the hedge-funders want to take over our schools with the same three steps: Starve, Test, Destroy. Budgets are cut severely, tests reveal “poor performance,” and then public schools, having been thus gutted, are replaced by privately managed charters.

First, the starvation: The state of New York is being sued again for funding public schools below constitutional levels. Cuomo’s budgets have stripped grade schools of art, music, sports, and counselors. Without money, classrooms grow so large no teacher can manage them, and kids can’t learn. Billionaires benefit as the money “saved” by not funding schools goes to tax breaks for the rich….”

“Second, the testing: Children are subject to a ridiculous battery of tests that lead to huge profits by corporations like the testing company Pearson but does little to improve the lives of the children. We’re talking about high-stakes, high-stress testing, including testing of the controversial Common Core. These tests prod and poke the children, creating lots of anxiety and taking away from the joy of learning.”

“Third, the destruction: These hedge-fund managers want to eliminate all limits and oversight of charter schools. They want to take control of New York City schools away from Mayor Bill de Blasio and let privatization run rampant. And they want billions in new funding from taxpayers to build new charter schools everywhere across the state, taking even more resources away from hard-pressed public schools.”

Read it all. It is amazingly insightful.

Randi Weingarten just posted this statement.

The difficult choices New Yorkers face at the polls

As I head back home to vote on Nov. 4, I’ll be casting my vote for the candidates endorsed by NYSUT, my statewide union, starting with Eric Schneiderman for attorney general, Thomas DiNapoli for comptroller, Tim Bishop for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a strong pro-public education, pro-worker majority in the state Senate and Assembly. And I’ll be voting on the Working Families Party line. If I lived in another state, I’d be starting with the governor—but not in New York.

It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening in New York, especially after campaigning across the country for gubernatorial candidates who unequivocally support public education, respect teachers and will fight for the investment our schools need.

But in New York, the decision is painful. I am deeply disappointed and appalled by Gov. Cuomo’s recent statement that public education is a “monopoly” that needs to be busted up. (Frankly, it’s only hedge fund millionaires, right-wing privatizers and tea partiers who would use that terminology.) Public education is a public good and an anchor of democracy that is enshrined in our state constitution. Public education needs to be nurtured and reclaimed.

At the same time, the other major candidate, Rob Astorino, would be no day at the beach for New York’s students, educators and working families. His letter was a needed salve to teachers, but his embrace of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s politics of destruction, public education funding cuts and attacks on workers’ voices is not a model for New York.

Whichever candidate is elected governor on Nov. 4 needs to know that I (and so many others) will hold his feet to the fire to strengthen public education. Our public schools and our students are a sacred responsibility, and our educators are national treasures. It’s well past time to fund our schools, care for our children, support our teachers, and stand up for workers and working families everywhere in our state.

Randi Weingarten

- See more at: http://www.aft.org/difficult-choices-new-yorkers-face-polls#sthash.XfQPasN8.dpuf

This article, written by a staff member of the Albany Times-Union, is a devastating critique of Andrew Cuomo.

The bottom line: He is the governor who serves the rich and powerful, not the people of Néw York. Four years ago, we had high hopes.

“Now, four years later on the cusp of the next election, upstate New York can’t wait to see him go. It turns out that our hero, our champion, is a fraud.

“He has misled us again and again on a host of issues, and disappointed us at nearly every turn.

“Corruption remains rampant. If you define corruption as the outsized influence of money in setting state policy, or at least giving that appearance, then the governor himself has become the embodiment of pay-to-play. He is the champion of Wall Street, a hero to downstate real estate magnates and billionaire hedge fund managers. Despite fervent promises, public financing of elections bit the dust. Why is no mystery. No one in state politics has benefited more in terms of campaign contributions from the wealthy — of maintaining the status quo — than Andrew Cuomo. That didn’t happen by accident….”

And he adds:

“The price for efficiency has been the ruthless co-opting of government in New York by one man, a closed loop. The Legislature is superfluous except for rubber stamping, and so is the electorate, for that matter. Cuomo is content — no, he demands — to make all the decisions for us, and will tell us what’s good for us, see that it’s passed, and no discussion, thank you. In the process, he has pitted blocks of New Yorkers against each other, and as a continual strategy has vilified those he wants to trample for whatever reason. Even when there are good reasons for tough love, such as the need to reduce the state workforce due to the Great Recession, his derisive strategy is awful. Treating those about to lose their jobs disrespectfully is reprehensible governance…..

“So the big question hanging out there now is why, days before the election, he declares war on public education and teachers, again. You would be hard pressed to find a historical precedent for a gubernatorial candidate, even a cocky one, antagonizing a large block of voters days before ballots are cast.

“Yet, this has all the earmarks of a calculated ploy on his part. My guess is that he is less concerned with how his comment equating public education with a public monopoly would play with educators, school boards and teachers unions — they weren’t going to vote for him anyway — than how pleased the hedge fund billionaires and Wall Streeters promoting the privatization of public education and charter schools would be to hear it.

“He has the election in the bag anyway, so why waste a good opportunity to shake the money tree? Pure Cuomo.”

FYI: this scathing article was tweeted by Randi Weingarten.

See why I’m voting for Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones in the Green Party line? Cuomo does not deserve re-election.

A Message to Néw Yorkers

NYC Kids PAC is a parent group formed to advocate for children’s issues.

Vote for Public Education on Election Day!

NYC Kids PAC enthusiastically endorses Howie Hawkins for Governor and Brian Jones as Lieutenant Governor on the Green Party Line.

Why?

Howie and Brian believe, as we do, that NYC kids deserve a quality education, including smaller classes and plenty of art, music and science. They believe our kids should not be over-tested nor be subjected to a rigid and flawed curriculum, tied to standards developed by people who have never taught. They believe that rather than turn our schools over to private corporations run by hedge-funders, our elected officials need to support and strengthen our public schools, the bedrock of our democracy.

In contrast, Governor Cuomo has failed our children, in almost every way. He slashed state aid for education, despite a court decision that found that our public schools underfunded. He pushed for more high-stakes testing, and for a teacher evaluation system based on test scores that will drive good teachers out of the profession. He has imposed a new requirement that any new charter school get space on demand, at city expense, while thousands of public school students sit in overcrowded classrooms, on waiting lists for Kindergarten, or in trailers.

Just this week, Cuomo said he was determined to “break” our public school system, which he called “one of the only remaining public monopolies.”

What about the police and fire departments or public health? Perhaps he is so intent on privatizing our public schools because some of his biggest donors run charter schools. He also condescended to parents by saying that the only reason we protested the flawed curriculum and exams is that we were manipulated by teachers, who got us “upset last year about this entire Common Core agenda.”

It’s time for someone to stand up for our kids and to start respecting parents. Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones will do just that, and we strongly urge you to go out and vote for them on Tuesday.

Our mailing address is:
NYC Kids PAC
1275 First Avenue, Suite 225
New York, NY 10065

Only days before the election, enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls, Néw York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo unleashed a tirade against teachers and the very concept of public education. He vowed to make test-based evaluations tougher, so more teachers would be found ineffective and fired. And he denounced public education as a monopoly that he is determined to break.

Daniel S. Katz of Seton Hall University reviews Cuomo’s remarks and finds that he is dangerously misinformed. He is a threat to the future of public education in Néw York state. He is clearly unaware of the failure of test-based teacher evaluation. He has obviously never read the research that shows how this method produces incoherent results and is no better than a roll of the dice.

But even more disturbing is his hostility to public education, which is one of the bedrock responsibilities of society. He sounds like a right-wing ideologue in a voucher organization.

It is sad that this angry man, who views teachers and public schools with contempt, has collected $40 million from his Wall Street allies and is coasting to re-election. Too bad he did not make his views clear earlier in the election cycle.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 28, 2014

More information contact:

Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com

Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – http://www.nysape.org

Parents and Educators Erupt in Anger Against Governor Cuomo’s
Vow to “Break” Our Public School System

In comments to the Daily News editorial board [http://m.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-vows-bust-school-monopoly-re-elected-article-1.1989478], Governor Andrew Cuomo infuriated the members of NYS Allies for Public Education, an organization that consists of over fifty parent and educator advocacy groups across New York State. The Governor vowed to “break” the state’s public school system, which he called “one of the only remaining public monopolies.” He said he would do this by expanding charter schools, competition, and imposing tougher teacher evaluations along with punitive sanctions: “The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations.” He condescended to parents by implying that the only reason parents erupted in protest was that teachers got “parents upset last year about this entire Common Core agenda.”

Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County Public School parent and founding member of NYSAPE, “The governor’s anti-public school and anti-parent rant has only confirmed what many parents have suspected for quite some time. This governor has no respect for our public schools, parents, or teachers. He is a bully, plain and simple.”

Nancy Cauthen, a New York City public school parent, pointed out, “Despite previous statements in which Cuomo absolved himself from the responsibility for imposing fundamentally flawed Common Core standards, curriculum, and high-stakes exams, and tried to blame this entirely on the State Education Department, it is clear that he continues to believe in this damaging agenda. As several polls recently showed, the majority of New Yorkers are opposed to the Common Core; and yet he continues to defend it and reveals he will push it even harder in a second term. The governor has revealed himself to be completely out of touch with what parents and communities want for our schools.

According to Marla Kilfoyle, a Long Island parent and educator and one of the leaders of the national organization known as the BATs, “Governor Cuomo’s continued war on the teaching profession and public education is a direct assault on children and their families. He continues to cut funding, disrespect parents, insult teachers, and hurt our children. Enough is enough!”

“Once again, Cuomo has put hedge fund managers, corporate interests and his charter school cronies above public school students and their families. Truth be told, parents see the devastating impact of the Common Core on our children every single day around our own dinner tables. We know that Common Core is failing our students and Cuomo is failing New York’s children,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

Lisa Rudley, a Westchester public school parent and Education Director of the Autism Action Network commented, “In his rant, Governor Cuomo calls public educators ‘the only remaining public monopoly.’ Would the governor consider firefighters and police officers a monopoly? Will he call for competition and sanctions based upon unreliable metrics for health care workers and other public service professionals? If so, it appears that his real goal is to dismantle our public schools to garner more support from his financial backers.”

“Governor Cuomo’s assertion that competition leads to better schools is ludicrous,” noted Ulster County public school parent, Bianca Tanis. “If he thinks that the answer to a lack of adequate funding for our schools is charter schools, competition, and test-based ranking and sorting, he is calling for a Hunger Games regime that will disadvantage all students, but especially those most vulnerable – our special needs students and children living in poverty.”

Before going to the polls next Tuesday, New Yorkers can see the education positions of all four gubernatorial candidates, including Governor Cuomo, on NYSAPE’s website.

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Education advocates blasted Governor Andrew Cuomo for vowing to “bust the public school monopoly” by creating more privately managed charters.

Will he bust the “police monopoly” or the “firefighters” monopoly? Will he privatize other essential public services as he now threatens to privatize our public schools?

The Alliance for Quality Education and other groups said:

ALBANY (October 28, 2014) – AQE, local school superintendents and leaders of the state’s major community organizations issued the following statement in response to Gov. Cuomo’s vow to break the public schools “public monopolies” and replace them with more privately-run charter schools.

“Gov. Cuomo has laid clear plans to expand his frontal assault on our public schools through high stakes testing, starving our public schools and privatization,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “It’s not that shocking when you look at the enormous pile of cash he has raked in from the Wall Street billionaires who are investing in charter schools. He is rewarding his financial backers at a devastating cost to our children.”

“Governor Cuomo’s public school bashing hurts students and families, especially in low-income immigrant communities hardest hit by the inequality that has grown under his tenure. Instead of addressing overcrowding, the loss of vital resources, high dropout rates among Latinos, or record-high inequality between school districts, he’s stuck on tired talking points that are divisive and benefit a small few,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road Action Fund.

“New York State’s graduation rates for black and Latinos ranks at the bottom of all states nationally. It has also been established that NYS clearly discriminates against those same children when it comes to equal distribution state education aid. If you are white and/or rich in New York, you get the best of all state aid worlds. If you are poor and/or black or Latino, you get the short end of the education aid stick,” said Kenneth Eastwood, Superintendent of Schools of the Middletown Enlarged City School District. “So lets redirect the real issue of education in New York State to the evaluation of teachers using data from a failed common core test that the Governor admits is so bad that the same data should not be used to evaluate students for the next five years. Political hyperbole at the expense of fair funding and opportunities for all students in New York State only results in greater sales of smoke and mirrors and larger numbers of disenfranchised poor and minority students in New York. Stop running for President and do what’s right for New York’s poor and minority students.”

“The Governor’s words demonstrate that he really doesn’t understand the important role of public education in the continuing re-tooling and development of the American economy,” said Robert Libby, the Cohoes City School District’s Superintendent of Schools.

“It is outrageous that Mr. Cuomo calls our public school system a ‘monopoly.’ While the governor calls for school competition, what he’s really pushing is a ‘survival of the fittest’ charter school model,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change.“What the governor should be doing is complying with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s decision to fully fund our schools and pay the $2.5 billion New York City public schools are owed. Every child in New York City should have access to good schools and we will be in Albany next year to make sure this happens.”

“New York’s leaders need to stop blaming everyone else and instead address the real problem with our education system: the state’s chronic under-funding of schools,” said Karen Scharff, executive director with Citizen Action of New York. “Declaring war on teachers is just an excuse for the budget cuts that are undermining our kids’ opportunity for success.”

“The Governor’s assertion that competition is an adequate substitute for equity should be an affront to New Yorker’s sensibilities,” Schenectady City School District’s Superintendent of Schools Laurence Spring said.

I just watched the gubernatorial debate in New York. It included four candidates and is the only debate that will be held as Cuomo did not want to give his opponents any free air time. So there was Governor Cuomo, running on three lines (democrat, Working Families Party, Women’s Equality Party); His Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, running on three lines (Republican, Conservative, and Stop Common Core); Howie Hawkins, Green Party; and Michael McDermott, a Libertarian Party.

There were two education questions.

One was, what’s your position on Common Core? All four candidates opposed it. The Libertarian said his nine-year-old daughter can’t understand her homework, and neither can he. He said something along the lines of, “8+6=14, but why ask her to add 8+2+7-4-3?”

Cuomo insisted he had nothing to do with adopting Common Core and blamed it on the Board of Regents. He said he doesn’t appoint them, the Legislature does.

Then came a question on charter schools. Howie Hawkins opposed any expansion of them and said we must fully fund our public schools. Astorino said he was a product of public schools, his children attend public schools, and his wife teaches special education. He didn’t say where he stands on charters. McDermott denounced charters and said they undermine local control, which he strongly favors. Cuomo said nothing about charter schools and talked about taxes and other subjects. He changed the subject instead of acknowledging his fervent support for charter schools. Cuomo did not take credit for passing legislation that requires New York City to give free public space to charters or to pay their rent in private space.

The takeaway? None of the candidates supports Common Core (not even Cuomo, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of the standards until recently and has insisted on making test scores the basis of educators’ evaluations), and charters (which enroll 3% of the state’s students, received no endorsement, even from their biggest cheerleader, Governor Cuomo.

With his campaign chest of $45 million, Cuomo has a big lead over his challengers. But the Governor would not publicly endorse Common Core or charters. He left a sour taste, as there can be no doubt that his current rhetoric is campaign mode and that he will revert to supporting Common Core, high-stakes testing, teacher-bashing, and charters after he is re-elected.k

A little more than four months ago, New York’s Working Families Party threatened to nominate its own candidate against Governor Andrew Cuomo, because Cuomo had grown so close to his Wall Street campaign contributors and was often called “Governor 1%” for his intense desire to defend the interests of the plutocrats. The WFP was prepared to nominate an unknown law professor named Zephyr Teachout, who was an expert on government ethics.

Cuomo promised to work with the WFP to elect a Democratic majority in the State Senate so that the Legislature could pass progressive legislation, which died in the State Senate, abetted by a small caucus of Democrats who aligned with the Republicans to give them control.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, the state’s leading progressive official, worked hard to persuade the WFP to support Cuomo (even though Cuomo had just humiliated de Blasio by backing charter schools over public schools and gutting the Mayor’s power to regulate charters). De Blasio even nominated Cuomo at the state Democratic convention, burnishing his otherwise nonexistent progressive credentials.

Of course, the WFP gave its nomination to Cuomo, Teachout challenged him in the Democratic primary, and with almost no money, managed to win 1/3 of the vote and half the counties in the state.

Now, lo and behold, de Blasio is working hard to elect the Democrats who would shift the balance in the State Senate, but Cuomo has turned invisible.

The New York Times wrote:

“It has been more than four months since the fragile marriage between the governor and the Working Families Party was consummated: The group endorsed Mr. Cuomo, over many of its members’ objections, after he agreed to pursue a long list of liberal goals, as part of a deal that Mr. de Blasio helped broker.

“The top priority was an effort to tilt the balance of power in the State Senate, where Republicans currently share leadership with a group of breakaway Democrats.

“Less than a month before Election Day, with polls showing some key Senate races leaning in Republicans’ favor, the arrangement with the governor appears increasingly fraught. Despite his pledge to push for Democratic control of the Senate, Mr. Cuomo has at times seemed not to have a strong opinion about the outcome of the November elections.

“You can’t say, ‘Well, I can work well if they elect this party,’ ” he told reporters last month. “They elect a legislature: Democratic, Republican, whatever they elect. I think the job of the governor is to figure out how to make it work.”

Translation: Cuomo hoodwinked the WFP, de Blasio, and the unions.

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