Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking recently in a Buffalo suburb, said that "there has to be a death penalty for failing schools, so to speak," according to an article
in the Buffalo News. He was referring to closing low performing schools.
The comment, which echoes what State Education Commissioner John King said earlier this month, triggered a heated response from Samuel Radford, president of the city's parent council, and Philip Runmore, head of Buffalo's teachers union.
I'm betting you can easily guess who said what based on similar exchanges made by school and labor officials here in Rochester. Radford praised the governor and said that parents support him, and of course, rhetorically speaking they probably do. But wait until the schools start closing.
And Runmore criticized the governor, saying that Buffalo's deeply entrenched poverty was to blame.
Cuomo's list of options is also interesting. Schools should be given a short time to improve, he says, and then something dramatic has to occur: state takeover of the schools, mayoral control, or a charter takeover. He said that Albany can't continue to allow as many as three-quarters of Buffalo's schools to continue failing.
The governor lumped the Rochester school district in with failing school districts around the state that need immediate improvement.