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Cuomo’s SOS speech details education proposals

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech included some proposals for public education, but didn't provide much detail.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley has reaction from the leader of the New York State School Board Association (NYSSBA).

“I was impressed with the speech. I was impressed with the delivery and the organization of his thinking,” remarked Timothy Kremer, executive director of NYSSBA.

Kremer said unlike past years, Cuomo did not come down heavily on educators. A couple of years ago when he pointed to teacher evaluations and student performance.

“I think he is backing in being aggressive toward the public education establishment – the public education lobby – that’s not to say that he is not going to be friendly toward some of the things we would want as well, so I don’t want to, in any way, suggest we can’t be allies – we’re going to need him and he’s going to need us,” Kremer responded.

Kremer noted the Governor said there must be more state aid dedicated to poorer districts, however, the Alliance for Quality Education said the Governor has consistently neglected and underfunded schools in “black, brown and poor communities.”

The Alliance points out that it has been more than a decade since the state's high court ruled that New York was underfunding schools. 

“Governor Cuomo said we ‘must address education funding inequities and dedicate more of our state school aid to poor districts,’ but for seven years he has done everything possible to resist fair funding for schools in poorer communities. In fact, last year he tried to repeal the fairest funding formula that New York has, the Foundation Aid formula. The way to show he supports educational equity with more than fine words in a long speech is to fund Foundation Aid. In his two hour speech he made education and New York's 2.6 million public school children a minor footnote. In this time of crisis, we need more than the talk of being progressive; we need bold leadership and action. It’s time to stop balancing the state budget on the backs of Black, Brown and poor children. It’s time to fund the $4.2 billion New York owes our public schools," the Alliance wrote.

The organization said Cuomo failed to address 'educational racism'.  We asked Kremer if he felt the same.

“I don’t. Equity is somewhat of a nebulous term. What might be equitable to you might not be equitable to me. He is saying that we need to allocate resources where they are needed most. I could not possibly argue with that – I totally agree with that and there are times when we have found ourselves not doing that,” Kremer replied.   

Governor Cuomo is proposing Early College High Schools that Kremer says could help students get a jump on their college education and even save money by earning college credits in advance.

The Governor also wants more money toward incentives to address teacher shortages, funding for pre-k, mental health and after school programs.    

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