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AQE, Leading Education Advocates, Superintendents, Respond to Gov. Cuomo’s Attack on Public Schools

ALBANY (October 28, 2014) – AQE, local school superintendents and leaders of the state’s major community organizations issued the following statement in response  to Gov. Cuomo’s vow to break the public schools “public monopolies” and replace them with more privately-run charter schools.

“Gov. Cuomo has laid clear plans to expand his frontal assault on our public schools through high stakes testing, starving our public schools and privatization,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “It’s not that shocking when you look at the enormous pile of cash he has raked in from the Wall Street billionaires who are investing in charter schools. He is rewarding his financial backers at a devastating cost to our children.”

“Governor Cuomo’s public school bashing hurts students and families, especially in low-income immigrant communities hardest hit by the inequality that has grown under his tenure. Instead of addressing overcrowding, the loss of vital resources, high dropout rates among Latinos, or record-high inequality between school districts, he’s stuck on tired talking points that are divisive and benefit a small few,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road Action Fund.

“New York State’s graduation rates for black and Latinos ranks at the bottom of all states nationally. It has also been established that NYS clearly discriminates against those same children when it comes to equal distribution state education aid. If you are white and/or rich in New York, you get the best of all state aid worlds. If you are poor and/or black or Latino, you get the short end of the education aid stick,” said Kenneth Eastwood, Superintendent of Schools of the Middletown Enlarged City School District. “So lets redirect the real issue of education in New York State to the evaluation of teachers using data from a failed common core test that the Governor admits is so bad that the same data should not be used to evaluate students for the next five years. Political hyperbole at the expense of fair funding and opportunities for all students in New York State only results in greater sales of smoke and mirrors and larger numbers of disenfranchised poor and minority students in New York. Stop running for President and do what’s right for New York’s poor and minority students.”

“The Governor’s words demonstrate that he really doesn’t understand the important role of public education in the continuing re-tooling and development of the American economy,” said Robert Libby, the Cohoes City School District’s Superintendent of Schools.

“It is outrageous that Mr. Cuomo calls our public school system a ‘monopoly.’ While the governor calls for school competition, what he’s really pushing is a ‘survival of the fittest’ charter school model,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change.“What the governor should be doing is complying with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s decision to fully fund our schools and pay the $2.5 billion New York City public schools are owed.  Every child in New York City should have access to good schools and we will be in Albany next year to make sure this happens.”

“New York’s leaders need to stop blaming everyone else and instead address the real problem with our education system: the state’s chronic under-funding of schools,” said Karen Scharff, executive director with Citizen Action of New York. “Declaring war on teachers is just an excuse for the budget cuts that are undermining our kids’ opportunity for success.”

“The Governor’s assertion that competition is an adequate substitute for equity should be an affront to New Yorker’s sensibilities,” Schenectady City School District’s Superintendent of Schools Laurence Spring said.

Wendy Liberatore, Communications Coordinator, AQE / (518) 432-5315 ext. 102; cell-(518) 491-0454

Julian Vinocur, NYC Communications Director, AQE / (203) 313-2479

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