Skelos Open To Gubernatorial Control On Education
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos signaled he would be supportive of granting Gov. Andrew Cuomo more authority over the state’s education policy making.
In an interview with Time Warner Cable News and NY1, Skelos said he backed the idea of changing the process through which the Board of Regents is appointed — essentially controlled by the Democratic-led Assembly.
“We’ve passed legislation a number of times, I believe it was Senator LaValle’s bills that would change the way Regents were selected,” Skelos said in the interview. “Right now, it’s basically Shelly Silver picking the Regents and we think there should be an opportunity for the Senate to be truly part of that process by both houses voting on the confirmations separately so the person who passed the Senate would have to pass the Assembly.”
In addition to raising the possibility of changing how the Regents are appointed, Cuomo has indicated he wants more power over how the state runs public education, which is currently controlled by the semi-autonomous Department of Education and its commissioner.
“I think we should consider giving the governor more control of education as appropriate,” Skelos said.
Gaining more control over education has been a sought-after goal for several of Cuomo’s predecessors, including Republican George Pataki and Democrat Eliot Spitzer.
Cuomo last month indicated his push for education policy changes in a letter from his state operations director, Jim Malatras, to the Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and outgoing Education Commissioner John King.
This year, Cuomo’s office has said he will include several education reform measures in his state budget proposal, due to be released Jan. 21, along with the State of the State address.
On education, Cuomo may have a willing partner with Skelos and his GOP majority in the Senate.
Skelos backed easing or ending the charter school cap — as well as the creation of an education tax credit aimed at parochial schools.
“I think they should be raised or done away with — very supportive of that,” Skelos said of the charter cap. “It affords parents a choice especially in districts where the public education system is failing them and there kids. I also believe the education tax credit should be passed in order for our private schools — Yeshiva, Catholic schools — to be able to survive and provide that choice to the parents also.”
Chase that, however, with Senate Education Chairman John Flanagan’s comments on Capital Tonight this month, warning against any “Draconian” overhaul of the education system.
The state’s teachers union is already gearing up for a major fight this budget season on education issues after Cuomo declared he wanted to end the “public monopoly” on education through a strengthening of charter schools.
With Skelos and Cuomo on the same page, teachers unions will no doubt continue to point to the wealthy backers of charter schools who have contributed heavily to the governor’s re-election campaign as well as independent expenditure campaigns backing Republican Senate candidates last year.
Still, Skelos said the Senate will place mayoral control of New York City schools under “review” even as he sounds supportive of extending mayoral control to Rochester and Yonkers.
“I’m open to it — I can’t say I’m not open to it,” he said. “What we want to see what the experience has been in New York City. That’s up for renewal this year. We want to review that. And upstate, we just want to make sure it doesn’t turn into a patronage mill in some of those cities.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 13, 2015 at 8:07 am, and is filed under Dean Skelos, Education, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|