Cuomo’s death penalty for schools a huge mistake

“At the end of last week, Governor Cuomo proposed a ‘death penalty’ for low performing schools. His choice of words is extremely disturbing and of grave concern to parents and students struggling for better schools. More importantly, the policy proposal that he suggests is a huge mistake.Ironically, Governor Cuomo and his own Education Reform Commission have promoted a different set of reforms that are educationally sound and would greatly improve struggling schools. These reforms include full-day pre-kindergarten, expanded learning time, community schools, teacher mentoring and college-readiness curriculum. However, less than two percent of New York’s students will have access to these programs. The Governor is right that we cannot accept failing schools, but rather than proposing a ‘death penalty,’ he should provide the leadership needed to ensure that these schools have access to the very programs that his education commission has endorsed and that he holds up as innovative solutions and successes.The ‘death penalty’ options proposed by Governor Cuomo – state takeover, mayoral control and conversion to charter schools – focus only on changing who is running schools, not on the educational strategies inside schools and classrooms. The track record around the country of these dramatic actions is largely unsuccessful and highly divisive. For instance, mayoral control in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg has failed to close the achievement gap or improve the lowest performing schools and is very unpopular with New York City voters. In New York and other states, state takeovers have had no track record of success with states mired in local school goverance for years or even decades. Rather than proposing “death” penalty legislation, we urge the governor to focus his energy and leadership on implementing the successful strategies that his Education Reform Commission has recommended and prioritizing New York’s neediest schools.”

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