Thursday, March 6, 2014

This November, Vote RODE

As if voters demanded more evidence of his ineptitude, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo publicly pondered education policy on multiple occasions this week, once in a
television ad and again at an Albany rally.  

The Lobbyist for the Students now thinks he knows exactly which way the breeze is blowing inside the hurricane of education deform.  With legislators under pressure to legislate and
reform the Board of Regents, Cuomo tumbles in the wind, cozying up to parents against Common Core tests while paradoxically insisting the tests be used to evaluate and award teachers. The same man who two weeks ago described Common Core as causing “massive chaos” throughout the state, now claims it’s “heading in the right direction.”  Cuomo suggests that the “massive anxiety” over “unfair” tests will subside once the scores are used primarily to punish teachers and not students.          

Rather than
brandishing a sign at a rally against Common Core, Cuomo spoke to the signs at a rally for charter schools, promising to stop the closure of schools that don’t even exist yet.  The governor rushed to speak for schools run by his billionaire buddies while touting an undemocratic tax cap that has drained the resources of districts throughout the state.   With $800,000 from charter supporters fattening his campaign wallet, it’s no wonder Cuomo has yet to “form a hard opinion” on whether his teacher evaluation system (APPR) should be used to evaluate teachers at charter schools. After all, why leave the hiring and firing of teachers up to due process when a CEO can take care of it?    

Given the choice between corporate Cuomo and charter-friendly Republican Rob Astorino, many voters in New York have resigned themselves to four more years of education malfeasance. Cowed by Cuomo’s campaign dollars, education advocates find only futility in the search for someone to oppose the governor’s bloated political machine. Yet parents and teachers have a real issue to push, an issue directly involving their kids, communities, and our democracy. New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and other organizations must mobilize their resources behind a campaign which forcefully challenges Cuomo’s pernicious attacks on public education while shining a spotlight on Citizens United and the dissolution of our political system beneath the paws of Quid Pro Quo. Will a candidate emerge as a spokesperson for this cause and, at the very least, expose Cuomo to a wider audience? This could provide Cuomo the perfect opportunity to share his vision of education with a national audience. Many Americans would gladly debate the presidential hopeful regarding the merits of merit pay, Common Core, and charter schools, likely extinguishing any hopes he had for 2016.    

Supporters of public education in New York and around the country cannot be intimidated by the largess of PAC-funded politicians, as the fight for their schools is happening in the same arena as the sale of our democracy.  Voters must blur the lines between parties, shouting louder than the dollars of plutocrats. 
Perhaps what is needed is a new political party, which, in the tradition of Jimmy McMillan, never fails to remind voters of its cause. I’m proposing the creation of the Running for Office is Too Damn Expensive Party (RODE).

You can make your checks payable to save public ed





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