Members of the Alliance for Quality Education, Teachers and Students were among those participating in a protest against what they’re calling “Governor Cuomo’s Broken Education Philosophy.” The protest was held outside the “Camp Philos.” conference on Sunday, outside Lake Placid’s Whiteface Lodge.
“Let’s get one thing straight, these aren’t philosophers, they’re bullies who are accustomed to using their big fat campaign donations to push people around,” said Billy Easton, AQE Executive Director. “The fact that Governor Cuomo is headlining this retreat is another clear sign that he has abandoned our public schools to fully embrace a testing and privatization agenda being pushed by the Wall Street types who are financing Camp Philos. Governor Cuomo says money does not matter for our public schools, but he is headlining this event to cash in on donations for his campaign that were rewards for giving more money to privately run charter schools.”
While backers of the corporate school agenda are honoring Cuomo, public school parents and students, teachers and administrators from around the state were left outside Camp Philos, with its $1,000-a-person attendance fee.
The Governor’s policies have forced classroom cuts every year he has been in office and have promoted a damaging education culture that pushes teaching to the test. Under The Governor’s tenure, New York State schools have dropped from 8th to 20th in K-12 achievement, according to Education Week, the nation’s leading education periodical.
Last budget season, Cuomo proposed to underfund traditional public schools that serve 97% of students. At the same time, he aggressively drove more resources and special privileges to charter schools that serve a mere 3% of students across the state.
“As a student, I can see the disappearance of holistic education on a daily basis,” said Daniel Adamek, Herkimer High School Student Council President and founder of Students for Fair Funding. “My schooldays should be filled with learning and growing as an individual, but are instead filled with corporate intrusion. When education becomes corporatized, students fail to grow into productive citizens and instead involuntarily become profit-making tools of the private sector. My education should not be for sale.”
The organizers of Camp Philos are financed by hedge fund managers and other super-wealthy donors that have heavily invested in the governor’s campaign. In return Cuomo champions their corporate-style reforms for our schools with increased testing and expansion of privately run charter schools. These reforms do absolutely nothing to improve teaching and learning at the majority of public schools across the state.
“Governor Cuomo’s education policy has been a disaster for our schools,” said Ivette Alfonso, an Albany parent and Citizen Action New York’s state board president. “We all need to tell the Governor and his corporate donors that we are against the privatization of our children’s schools. My nine-year-old is in the Albany school district and I will not stand by while Governor Cuomo continues to under-fund public education, while giving charter schools special privileges and more resources.”