With the passage of a new law that removes the mandatory use of state testing results in the evaluation of teachers (a totally wrong-headed idea,) it appears that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has finally given up his attempts to control the education system in New York and to punish the teachers’ union which have refused to endorse him.
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 Cuomo Administration 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 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 nowhere 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 that 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 in New York state. Again, millions of public dollars have been devoted to these items. Where are they now?
While Cuomo will never admit that many mistakes have been made in the name of improving education, that is the obvious truth. He personally led the charge to “improve education” which did nothing but waste money and time … both very precious resources.
The funding for public education and related topics need to be moved to the front burner and now. It is 2019 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.