We were hoping to start off the school year on a good note, but after Governor Cuomo’s suggestion late last week that we should have a “death penalty” for schools, it’s hard not to be worried about the direction he is planning in the final year of his first term as governor.
At a press conference in Lockport, Governor Cuomo used extremely disturbing language calling for a “death penalty” for schools with low test scores. His ideas: a “takeover” of schools by the mayor, the state, or private charter management operations. We don’t have to look far for an example of how this strategy doesn’t work for our students. In New York City, for the last 12 years Mayor Bloomberg has had control of the schools. He has closed schools, opened the door wide open to charter operations, and shut parents out. The result: failure. The racial achievement gap has not closed and may even be wider than ever before. Students are no better prepared for college today than they were before Bloomberg.
The ironic thing is that Governor Cuomo and his Education Reform Commission have endorsed educationally sound, proven-to-work programs, such as full-day pre-kindergarten, expanded learning time, community schools, teacher mentoring and a college-readiness curriculum. He knows what works. Now, students in struggling schools need him to deliver on these educational strategies. He has the roadmap to students success, and now he needs to get on the path towards solutions. Let him know that a “death penalty” is not an option for public schools.
Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education