UFT, educational activists respond to State of the State

Stephon Johnson | 1/21/2016, 11:39 a.m.
Educational activists and the United Federation of Teachers had a few things to say about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ...
Education

Educational activists and the United Federation of Teachers had a few things to say about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech. Most of it focused on his budget proposals and policy for education.

Cuomo outlined his goals for New York in his latest State of the State, including transforming every failing school, bringing universal pre-K to the entire state and proposing a $200 tax credit for teachers who spend their own money on school supplies.

The governor also called for a $2.1 billion increase in state school aid (over a two-year span), which would include $1 billion for the 2016-17 school year.

“Teachers deserve our support and encouragement,” he said.

UFT officials were quick to point out that many of Cuomo’s current proposals (i.e., turning failing schools into community schools, universal pre-K) were a cause that they and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have already championed

“We’ve come a long way from last year,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew in a statement. “We still have some differences and issues to work on, but as far as teachers are concerned, there was a lot to like in the governor’s speech.”

Jasmine Gripper, legislative director with the Alliance for Quality Education, said that while she liked some of what the governor had to say, she wants to see more on the issue of pre-K.
“While this is an important step forward to provide pre-K for more children, we will not rest until all of the 3- and 4-year-olds in New York state have access to a quality pre-K,” said Gripper in a statement. “Early childhood education is essential to build a solid foundation for a child’s future growth and education.”
“We agree with the governor that New York state needs to see all districts offer pre-K to 3- and 4-year-olds, and we are pleased to see the additional $22 million proposed to support pre-K for 3-year-olds this year,” added Nancy Kolben, executive director of Center for Children’s Initiatives. “But we think the state needs to move far more quickly to meet that goal—and not leave another generation of preschoolers behind. There is strong evidence that these investments help children succeed in kindergarten and beyond, and produce significant benefits for schools, communities and taxpayers alike.”