A bright assessment of Cuomo’s education record, with asterisks
In his "Two Year Progress Report," Governor Andrew Cuomo gave himself high marks across the board, including on economics, government reform, public safety and education.
"Governor Cuomo has made reforming our state's education system one of his highest priorities," it says in the 38-page report, which refers to "the adoption of a comprehensive teacher and principal evaluation system to help improve education statewide."
The report also credits Cuomo with boosting education spending by four percent, and creating the New NY Education Reform Commission.
But there's been a trickle of state education news recently that, in various ways, could complicate this positive assessment of the governor's record.
First, an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said the state education department hasn't inspected or audited private companies which provide billions of dollars in special-education services to pre-school students with special needs since 2007.
When asked about the report at a press conference this morning, Cuomo said, "I haven't seen the report."
When pressed on the matter, he said, "I didn't read the comptroller's report and I'm not personally familiar with these operators or what S.E.D. is doing. "
Cuomo spoke in general terms about needing to strike a balance between cracking down on fraud and providing services.
When asked whether he thought the state education department was striking the appropriate balance, Cuomo responded, "I don't know what they're doing. I just don't know what S.E.D. is doing."
(The agency agreed their "onsite review should be enhanced," but said DiNapoli's office "undervalue[d]" other audit mechanisms they have in place.)
Then there's the teacher evaluation plans. Under Cuomo's plan, the specific details of evaluation plans can only be put in place once they are agreed to by the local school districts and their respective teachers unions. So far, 665 school districts have submitted plans to the state. But New York City, the largest district in the state, has yet to do so.
Also: state education officials are bracing for a drop in test scores.
Susan Edelman of the Post reported earlier this week that state education officials expect "a major drop" in scores now that 3rd and 8th graders will face tougher math and English exams. That's because in order to get $700 million in federal Race to the Top aid, New York agreed to adopt tougher education standards, which kick in next April and May.