Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled yet another of his self-aggrandizing new programs that will provide scholarships for college graduates to pursue master’s degrees in education to help rectify the teacher shortage that has arisen in New York state.
In other words, Cuomo is again using taxpayer dollars to solve a problem that he created. Literally, from the moment he took office, Cuomo launched an all out attack on the state’s schools and the teachers who work in them. He cut state aid by $1.2 billion in his first budget while pushing through a tax cap which resulted in school districts across the state to cut thousands of teaching positions while eliminating countless instructional and extracurricular positions.
He demonized teachers blaming them for students not attaining the preordained scores on standardized tests as part of his two wrongheaded teacher evaluation systems. He proclaimed that schools which did not live up to his expectations be given the “death penalty” including the firing of all teachers and administrators assigned to these schools. At the same time, he extended the time teachers needed to serve in order to earn tenure while threatening to withhold state aid (read tax dollars) from school districts that did not pass muster. His actions caused teachers to retire in record numbers over the past five years and at the same time student applications to teacher preparation programs plummeted … Voila … a teacher shortage.
Now, Cuomo tries to ride in on a white horse to save the schools with an anemic teacher education scholarship program funded by state taxpayers in order to douse the very flames he has been fanning for years. It is time for Cuomo to admit that he knows nothing about education and exit the discussion before he kicks over a lantern and starts yet another four alarmer.
Dr. John Metallo is a retired teacher and administrator. Among the positions he has held are the principal of Albany High School and adjunct instructor at the University at Albany and SUNY Plattsburgh. He lives in Slingerlands and can be reached at (518) 577-7530 or [email protected]