I always enjoy “where are they now” stories on television. We get to reminisce about our favorite shows from days gone by and see what happened to our favorite stars as they grew up or grew old. The state of public education under the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is eerily akin to those “where are they now” shows.
For instance, on Jan. 3, 2013, a headline in the Albany media proclaimed that, “Cuomo touts school changes!” The article featured ideas from the governor’s Commission on Education, a group of high ranking business and education leaders and even some New York state legislators (governor.ny.gov/puttingstudentsfirst/bios) who were charged by the governor to set the agenda for education reform in New York state.
However, a visit to the group’s website (governor.ny.gov/puttingstudentsfirst) leads one to believe that this group has gone the way of those long ago TV stars. In short, they are no where to be found and have not been heard from in a long time. It makes one wonder what happened to the group and to the public dollars devoted to their work. Where are they now?
Additionally, the governor, in his State of the State speech (heck we don’t even have those any more) in January 2012 appointed himself the chief lobbyist for New York state students. According to him the only group in education who do not employ lobbyists.
It appears the governor has either lost interest in that position or that he is the quietest lobbyist in the history of lobbying. In addition to his disappearing act in this area, the governor has had nothing to say for the longest time about the teacher evaluation system he personally crafted, and he has been conspicuously absent from the fire storm surrounding the implementation of the common core standards. Again, millions of public dollars have been devoted to these items. Where are they now?
It is time to stop hiding out and to admit that many mistakes have been made in the name of improving education. The common core implementation, teacher evaluation, funding for public education and related topics need to be moved to the front burner and now.
It is 2017 and New York state still does not provide universal Pre-Kindergarten or full day kindergarten programs in all schools. If I were the lobbyist for the students of New York, I think I would start there. If we don’t, in about 13 years, we will ask of this year’s pre-K class, “Where are they now?”
Dr. John Metallo is a retired teacher and administrator. Among the positions he has held are principal of Albany High School and adjunct instructor at the University at Albany and SUNY Plattsburgh. He lives in Slingerlands and can be reached at 518-577-7530 or at firstname.lastname@example.org