Cuomo digs in on education reform


Governor Andrew Cuomo - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo continues his offensive on the state’s education system. Two days ago, Jim Malatras, director of state operations, sent a letter to Elizabeth Berlin, acting state commissioner of education. 

The letter requests a statewide investigation into teacher evaluations, with a particular focus on the school districts in Long Island where the accuracy of the evaluations has come into question.

Malatras is asking the State Education Department to look at the locally designed portion of the evaluations, which accounts for 60 percent of the total scoring, for examples of local officials using their discretion to raise the overall results. 

And today, the governor’s office issued a 200-page report, “The State of New York’s Failing Schools,” which says that 109,000 students in New York State are enrolled in 178 failing schools. The report says that 77 of those schools have been failing for 10 years.

The Rochester City School District is home to at least five of those schools: Charlotte High School, East High School, James Monroe High School, School 45, and School 9.

And several more Rochester schools show up as failing for seven to nine years, the report says. 

It’s worth noting that city school officials are addressing performance at some of their persistently low-performing schools. The University of Rochester, for instance, will take over most management responsibilities at East High later this year. And Superintendent Bolgen Vargas wants to close Charlotte.

Similar changes are under way in other school districts, and typically require some level of input or approval from the SED. For some of the governor's critics, that raises questions about the intent and clarity of his vision for education reform.