Education advocates respond to Governor Cuomo’s announcement to collaborate with the Gates Foundation to reimagine education
ALBANY, N.Y. (May 5, 2020) — In response to Governor Cuomo’s announcement that New York State will collaborate with the Gates Foundation to reimagine education, the public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education released the following statement:
“Governor Cuomo’s collaboration with the Gates Foundation for online education could be a threat to public schools as we know them.
“New York is enduring a crisis of future-altering proportions, and we must decide whether we will move forward into a better future, or one that deepens the inequity and injustices of our past. At present, where available, technology is serving an essential purpose in providing some educational access for children to safely learn during this crisis, but we cannot allow online education to supplant efforts to get them back into schools with teachers once the crisis passes,” said Jasmine Gripper, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.
“Hurricane Katrina spelled the end of public schools in New Orleans, which never reopened after the storm. It is essential that New York has a plan to reopen our schools when this health crisis is over. The pandemic has proven just how vital our public schools are to communities, as hubs that provide everything from meals to child care to essential workers.
“Both the Gates Foundation and Andrew Cuomo have a history of pushing privatization and agendas that have the potential to destroy public schools. This collaboration raises a red flag and real questions about what shape our “reimagined” public schools will take post-pandemic, and whether they will be recognizable as public schools at all. In 2018 there was an attempt by a different billionaire to promote online learning in NYC public schools, the failed program led to student walkouts and dismal results. Studies have shown that the fully online learning model harms the students who need the most help.
“We need to reimagine schools with smaller class sizes, where children will be able to thrive in a classroom environment that is safe and nurturing. We should imagine schools where there are school psychologists and school counselors — services that will be even more essential as children process trauma and disruption resulting from the pandemic. Research study after research study has shown that funding and teachers are predictors of student success. Research also shows that children spending excessive amounts of time on screens is harmful to their development.
“Up-to-date technology is an essential classroom tool, but it will never replace the face-to-face interactions and relationships with caring teachers that form the bedrock of a child’s education.
“We must be on guard to ensure that measures to keep children safe during the pandemic do not reduce the quality of education our children are entitled to.”