Category Archives: NYS

Questions for Governor Cuomo about Education

 

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Public Education and the State Budget

 Why do you seem to favor charter schools?

Do you believe we can educate all NY’s children in charter schools?

Do you think schools competing for already limited funding will produce better schools?

Do you believe education should be farmed out to private businesses or corporations?

Do you favor vouchers and how would school know how much money they had to work with each year?

Do you have a clear plan for dividing tax monies between public schools, private schools and charter schools, especially given the problems already experienced in determining formulas for funding schools in wealthier and in poorer neighborhoods?

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Should the tax base of a given city, town, or village determine the size of its school budget?

How much of a priority in our state budget are our schools?

What is our priority structure? Could we see a list in order from 1 to whatever?

Is NYS short on funds?

Have school districts lost large numbers of students and do they therefore need to be downsized?

Obviously some school districts are more successful at turning out competent graduates than others and obviously it’s difficult to control what happens at home. Is it your belief that putting teachers between the pressures of the classroom and the state government will inspire them to reach into themselves and somehow pull out consistent across-the-board success in spite of differences in demographics?

Will linking students’ test performances to a teacher’s continues employment be successful in producing consistent across-the-board success?

Is this all about union and tenure busting?

Are we at the point of scrapping compulsory public education?

Do schools spend too much?

Could you pick a school district at random and go over their budget with them to see how money is spent and make a more informed judgment about appropriate budget levels?

Will our schools continue to experience budget cuts every year? Can we expect this?

How do parents know when schools actually need to downsize because of fewer pupils and when they are just being forced to downsize because of political priorities or real gaps in budgets?

You seem to have some anger around schools and teachers. Could you express it more clearly, please? Use your words.

Higher Education

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Why are you cutting our SUNY schools when they should be our pride and an important selling point for our state? These schools are excellent, yet they are constantly sustaining budget cuts. Is this because of real dollar shortages?

Again could we know how you prioritize various sections of the budget?

Are these cuts policy decisions?

Are there better ways to make cuts?

State schools used to specialize in different areas of study. Could we save money and promote excellence and keep costs low by returning to a system where all programs are offered, but not at all schools?

How low can faculty pay and hours go before personal survival outweighs the personal passion for excellence and good professors are lost to the private sector?

Can’t you convene a working group from throughout SUNY – give them the real dollars available and let SUNY self-right-size itself by deciding the most sensible arrangement of statewide offerings and student costs? There are, after all certain courses that must be offered on every campus and other courses where specialties could be unique to a particular campus.

Perhaps students could be admitted to the whole SUNY system and take their courses on any campus as convenient rather than attending only one campus or at least make credits accepted on one campus, acceptable on all SUNY campuses? I’m guessing only some students would find this option useful but it might help SUNY attract and retain students.

New Yorkers (and others)

Come up with your own list of questions or feel free to add to mine.

By Nancy Brisson

<a href=https://plus.google.com/10640005355488737390?=author>Nancy Brisson</a>

Playing with the Big Boys

We saw a clip on the evening news last night in which a group of government workers went to talk to Governor Cuomo about cuts to government pensions and about Tier VI. They asked that the people who tinkered with the stock market be asked to “beef up” these pensions to the tune of what these “players” caused pensions to lose – a perfectly reasonable request if you ask me (although, of course, no one actually did).
Governor Cuomo gave a reply that suggested that if you get involved with the big boys you better be prepared to pay. Traditionally, most middle-class people did not put their money in the stock market, yet in the 80’s and 90’s everyone was advised to put their pension money into the stock market. The fall of the stock market in 2008 got a huge assist from something that is not an organic part of an economic cycle. Our “financial wizards” falsely propped up the market with a “magic” housing bubble based on unscrupulous practices, and when the bottom fell out they said the same thing Governor Cuomo said, “Oh well.” (Say it with a “what did you expect” twist at the end the phrase.)
If the stock brokers and their cohorts didn’t play fast and loose with the housing market, it is possible the market would have begun to droop downwards before it did, but maybe the recession would have been slower and shallower than what we finally experienced.
I don’t think “Oh well” is enough to say to these people who trusted NYS and used their time, energy, and skills on our behalf. Maybe Governor Cuomo is not the people’s governor – perhaps he is the government’s governor. We have done nothing to be punished for. Perhaps he’s acting stern so that when he has to do distasteful things we will somehow assume we deserve it. He may also have to steel himself to do some of the things he may have to do. So it is “tough love” everywhere. It is the fashion right now to blame the unions for being too greedy, but I don’t completely buy it. Closing loopholes that allow people to bulk up their pensions with overtime during their highest earning years might be helpful, but the unions are not to blame for all the changes in employment in America. We all got blind-sided.
Whoever is to blame, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride” (as said by you know who). Our Governor needs to understand that the people of NYS will need to survive, and he needs to try to spread out the pain.