January 4, 2012
Students have a new representative in Albany: Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Right now, Cuomo is delivering his second State of the State address, titled “Building a New New York … with you.”
Education issues account for one and a half of the speech’s 33 pages of prepared remarks. As expected, the governor is calling for an education commission to propose reforms to the state’s education system. That commission will look for ways to boost “teacher accountability and student achievement” and “management efficiency” — both topics Cuomo targeted during his first address a year ago — and will work with the legislature.
He’s also appointing himself chief lobbyist for students, calling them the only group in schools that don’t employ lobbyists of their own.
“This year, I will take a second job — consider me the lobbyist for the students,” he says in the prepared remarks, which he has been known to depart from. “I will wage a campaign to put students first, and to remind us that the purpose of public education is to help children grow, not to grow the public education bureaucracy.”
Some educators are already taking umbrage at the idea that students’ interests aren’t being represented.
“I vowed to be a lobbyist for students when I became a teacher 42 years ago. Haven’t stopped yet. There are thousands like me,” wrote David Greene, who now mentors Teach for America teachers for Fordham University, on Twitter.
Martha Infante, a Los Angeles teacher, suggested another lobbying force for students and a reason they might be of particular interest to Cuomo. “Their parents? Who vote?” she wrote on Twitter.
We’ll have more about Cuomo’s proposals later today. The full text of Cuomo’s prepared remarks about education is below.
Education Commission to Promote Performance and Accountability
As we reimagine government, we must focus on our core values.
The future of our state depends on our public schools. A strong, effective school system is the hallmark of a healthy democracy.
We must make our schools accountable for the results they achieve and the dollars they spend. I learned my most important lesson in my first year as Governor in the area of public education.
I learned that everyone in public education has his or her own lobbyist.
Superintendents have lobbyists.
Principals have lobbyists.
Teachers have lobbyists.
School boards have lobbyists.
Maintenance personnel have lobbyists.
Bus drivers have lobbyists.
The only group without a lobbyist?
Well, I learned my lesson. This year, I will take a second job — consider me the lobbyist for the students. I will wage a campaign to put students first, and to remind us that the purpose of public education is to help children grow, not to grow the public education bureaucracy.
Today, we are driven by the business of public educationmore than the achievement in public education. Maybe that’s why we spend more money than any other state but are 38th in graduation rates.
We have to change the paradigm. We need major reform in two areas:
- Teacher accountability and student achievement. We need a meaningful teacher evaluation system. The legislation enacted in 2010 to qualify for Race to the Top didn’t work.
- Management efficiency. We must make our schools accountable for the results they achieve and the dollarsthey spend.
We cannot fail in our mission to reform public education,because we simply cannot fail our children.
I will appoint a bipartisan education commission to work with the Legislature to recommend reforms in these key areas.