Published in City and State
Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to hammer away on key education issues that have taken center stage lately, affirming his commitment to funding universal pre-K with state budget funds while portraying Mayor Bill de Blasio as his foe in the fight over charter schools.
Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Association for a Better New York in New York City, Cuomo reiterated his support of the charter school movement, the state’s Common Core standards, teacher evaluations and rewarding high-achieving teachers with bonuses.
On Common Core, the governor responded to the growing backlash against the standards by saying that he would delay any repercussions for low-scoring students. Earlier this week, a panel appointed by Cuomo recommended that tests tied to Common Core not be included on student records, but that they still be used in teacher evaluations.
“[It] was rolled out rather quickly and it caused a lot of anxiety,” Cuomo said. “This year we’re looking to continue the advancement of Common Core, but not count the test scores against the students for a couple of years while they actually adjust to it.”
Cuomo also emphasized his position on the simmering disagreement between himself and de Blasio over how to fund universal prekindergarten in the city, painting the conflict as one between New York City and the rest of the state. De Blasio has called for a tax on the wealthy, which would have to be approved in Albany, while the governor has insisted that a statewide expansion be paid for with state funds.
“I want it not just for the children of Manhattan, I want it for the children of Buffalo, and the children of Rochester and the children of Syracuse,” Cuomo said, as the ABNY crowd applauded rapturously. He added, “Rather than any one city having to come up with a tax to pay for it, the state will pay for it because it’s a fairer way of doing it.”
At a press conference afterwards, Cuomo addressed the issue even more bluntly: “The mayor’s point that a tax is more permanent is not true.”
During a Q&A with the audience, Cuomo elaborated on his support for the charter school movement with a remark about mayoral control over the school system, feeding into the “de Blasio versus charter movement” narrative that has been bandied about over the last two weeks. De Blasio recently rescinded several charter schools co-location in city public schools, although most of the co-locations approved by the previous administration will go forward.
“The way we’ve now written the law, we give tremendous power to the mayor, and it’s possible for a mayor [to say], ‘I don’t like charter schools, I’m not going to…fund any new charter schools,’ and it’s possible that the whole movement would dry up,” Cuomo said. “I think that would be bad for the city and bad for the state.”
In an earlier interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer today, Cuomo explicitly stated that he did not approve of “a system statewide where charter schools can be aborted by any mayor or any city.” He added that he hoped the state would enact a policy preventing that from happening.