I soon found out that Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Bernie Sanders were at the college to introduce Cuomo's plan to provide free tuition to students at SUNY and CUNY schools if their families earn under $125,000.
It looks as though Andrew Cuomo is continuing his sharp left turn as he prepares for his 2020 run for the Democratic nomination for President of the US. He knows Democratic Party Primary voters lean way to the left for the most part so he is moving in that direction.
As someone who has worked in a New York City public school throughout the entire anti-public school Cuomo years, I say free public college sounds great but coming from someone who has been a thoroughly anti-public education anti- public worker governor, I am more than a little skeptical.
Under Cuomo, we have Tier VI which diminishes pensions for so many teachers and other city an state government employees hired in the last five years. The Governor has also been the pro-charter school, student lobbyist who was going to break the fictional public school monopoly. Cuomo proposed most of the Education Transformation Act of 2015 which the State Legislature passed and the Governor signed that is hurting us in several ways in the schools.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has never fully funded Pre K-12 public education the way the NY State Court of Appeals ruled the state should and the Legislature agreed to in 2007. This is from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity:
Today, Foundation Aid levels remain much lower than the CFE recommendation. Schools are still owed $3.9 billion in Foundation Aid, most of which is owed to districts with high percentages of black and brown students.
I'm suspicious of governors who turn left for political expediency.
What about our readers?
From the NY Times story on the Cuomo free tuition plan:
It was not immediately clear how the program would be paid for, though the administration said the state already provided nearly $1 billion in support through its tuition assistance program; those awards are capped at $5,165, and many of the grants are smaller.
If the plan is approved, the Cuomo administration estimates the program would allow nearly a million New York families with college-age children, or independent adults, to qualify. The estimated costs of the program, when fully put in place in 2019, would be $163 million, though the administration acknowledges that estimate could be too low — or too high — depending on participation.
Current tuition at four-year State University of New York schools for state residents is $6,470; at two-year community colleges the cost is $4,350. Costs for City University of New York schools are approximately the same.
Mr. Cuomo, a centrist with rumored presidential ambition, has tracked left on a series of issues during his second term, championing a higher minimum wage and paid family leave, though he continues to face criticism from some progressive groups over sometimes working closely with Republicans who rule the State Senate.
Here is the response to the Cuomo plan from the Alliance for Quality Education:
Governor Cuomo’s Attempt at Progressive Education Policy Must Include Full Funding for K-12ALBANY (January 3, 2017) - The Alliance for Quality Education responded to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to offer free tuition at New York state colleges for families making less than $125,000 on Tuesday, saying Governor Cuomo must work to ensure adequate funding for all public education if he hopes to follow through on his promise.
“While offering free college tuition to low-income families is laudable, the reality is that many students’ paths to college are limited because their local K-12 public schools lack the resources to support them,” says Jasmine Gripper, Legislative and Policy Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “Governor Cuomo has continuously refused to make the proper investments necessary for K-12 education statewide. This announcement is bypassing the very basic, yet extremely urgent step of fully funding K-12 education statewide in a way that rejects the longstanding racial and economic educational inequity in NY. Without a commitment to first better prepare students for college through adequate K-12 funding from the state, the Governor’s plan will not make the impact intended.
Consider the Governor’s plan for full-day universal Pre-K: it is a great idea, but three years later, only a small percentage of four-year-olds outside New York City have access, due to a lack of funding. New York’s public schools are owed $4.3 billion in state funding, based on the state’s own Foundation Aid formula. If Governor Cuomo hopes this free tuition proposal will result in better-educated New Yorkers, he needs to be ready to commit funding to public education at every level.”