All Education, All the Time
From the Morning Memo:
In the days leading up to today’s combined State of the State/budget address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced no fewer than 12 initiatives and leaked out a handful more, aiming to ensure some of his top policy priorities get the coverage he believes they deserve.
There will be a veritable deluge of information released by the Cuomo administration today. Without these strategic announcements, it’s likely some of the governor’s proposals – like, say, the broadband initiative or the juvenile justice piece – would have received just a line here or there in many media reports.
There’s plenty left for the governor to discuss, however. Topping the list: Education reform.
At the NYT notes, Cuomo has made no secret of his desire to overhaul the state’s education system, letting fly his first salvo in the form of a letter from his top aide, Jim Malatras, to Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and outgoing state Education Commissioner John King back in December.
But Cuomo has kept the details of his plans close to the vest, and is widely expected to make them a main focus of his speech today.
The statewide teachers union, NYSUT, is already on the defensive – and on the airwaves with a close to $1 million TV ad campaign, which has been answered with an ad from StudentsFirstNY, a pro-charter school organization.
And education advocates and their legislative allies (mostly Democrats) are calling for the governor to increase public education aid, noting the gap between high-needs and wealthy districts is growing ever wider.
But Cuomo made clear yesterday that he doesn’t believe throwing more money at the problem is the answer.
“Somewhere along the way, we forgot that the education system and the education program are about the students, not the bureaucracy,” the governor said, echoing a sentiment he has expressed many times before.
Ironically, today is the day oral arguments will be heard in the long-awaited small cities funding lawsuit. The attorney general’s office has tried for six year to get the courts to throw out this suit, the outcome of which – according to the plaintiffs – could impact needy districts across the state.
Aside from funding, there’s a lot of anticipation about what Cuomo will propose regarding charter schools, to which public education advocates say he is overly beholden due to the big money he has received from deep pocketed charter boosters.
As for other education policy initiatives, the DN’s Ken Lovett reports this morning that Cuomo will proposal linking together two proposals that have split the left and the right: The education tax credit and the DREAM Act.
This will be the first time Cuomo has included the DREAM Act, which would help the children of undocumented immigrants pay for college, in his budget – something advocates have long sought.
The DREAM Act died on the Senate floor last session. Senate Republicans are not big fans, and some of their candidates campaigned against the measure this past election cycle.
However, they – and their Democratic member, Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder – are big backers of the education tax credit. So much so that, according to one source, the Senate had toyed with the idea of taking up the tax credit legislation at its noon session today – less than two hours before Cuomo is scheduled to deliver his speech.
We’ll have to wait and see on that.
Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan recently warned the governor against putting too much policy into his budget, which could set up a prolonged battle with the Legislature.
Of course, there’s a lot more to look for in Cuomo’s speech today. While he did roll out 12 big initiatives, he was a little light on the details on some of them – especially when it comes to where, exactly, their funding will come from.
Also, we have yet to hear much about the governor’s plan to reform the criminal justice system, of which he pledged a “soup to nuts” review in the wake of the Eric Garner grand jury decision.
The DN did report this week that Cuomo is considering automatic reviews by the state when grand juries fail to indict in police brutality cases.
The governor has also said he is considering appointing a special prosecutor (instead of DAs) to handle these types of cases. AG Eric Schneiderman has said he should do the honors, but it seems unlikely Cuomo will get on board with that at this moment.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose ongoing rift with the NYPD has caused much consternation, will be in the audience at the Empire State Convention Center today. So, it will be interesting to see how Cuomo handles this controversial issue.
There’s also the question of how, exactly that $5 billion “windfall” from financial settlements over the past year will get carved up. Some of it will be used to pay for the proposals Cuomo has already laid out. The Legislature may or may not be willing to go along with that.
And there’s the question of whose ox will get gored – in other words, what gets cut. Because with all these grandiose plans, something’s got to give.
We don’t have long to wait now. The speech is set to start at 1:30 p.m. And just a reminder for those who intend to attend in person: Don’t forget your coat.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on January 21, 2015 at 7:13 am, and is filed under Education. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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