ALBANY, N.Y. (January 14, 2021) — In response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State addresses this week, the public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education released the following statement:
“Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo wrapped up his week-long State of the State addresses outlining his priorities for the coming year, yet Governor Cuomo didn’t think that New York’s almost 3 million public school students were worth even 5 minutes of his time.
“2020 was and will always be defined by the pandemic, and for New York’s young people and families, the disruptions to their lives and the impact of this year on their education will define their futures. New York has thousands of children enrolled in remote learning without a device or access to high speed internet. Children, parents and educators are experiencing trauma from the devastation this pandemic has caused and need access to mental health supports. Educators are on the front lines teaching in person as COVID-19 infection rates continue to soar. The Governor took 4 days to lay out his agenda for New York in 2021, yet failed to address the growing needs of students, educators and families. Governor Cuomo has made it clear with his actions that his priorities do not include public education.
“The road to New York’s economic recovery does not lie in being able to go to football games, or betting on the game online. We know that for New York to get to Cuomo’s vision of a better, stronger and more just New York we have to invest in our most valuable asset, the people of New York, especially our children. The key to thriving communities is healthy schools. Black and Brown people, working people and immigrants have been denied access to high quality public education through Governor Cuomo’s failure to fully fund the schools in our communities.
“Expanding access to high speed internet is essential for New York’s children who are mostly engaged in remote learning, but students should not have to pay a fee to enter their classrooms. A central pillar of our public education system is that it is free for all children. Public education that relies on families paying their internet bill, even if that bill is just $15, is not public education at all.
“If we are to move forward from the devastation of COVID, it is essential to get relief to students and their families. Since the onset of the pandemic, Governor Cuomo’s rolling budget cuts have hurt children by compounding existing poverty, hunger, and housing insecurity. New York’s students need the state to invest in public education — from child care to Pre-K to grade 12 — to ensure all students across the state, especially Black, Latinx, immigrant and low income children receive a high quality education.
“Congress recognized the importance of public education in COVID recovery by including $4 billion for New York’s schools in the recent stimulus package. Whether those funds make it into classrooms to have the impact Congress intended now lies with Cuomo. Will he choose to help or harm New York’s public schools? If this week is any indication of Cuomo’s priorities for the coming year, the outlook for our schools is dim.
“New York parents, educators and students are coming together to force the Governor and State legislature to protect students, not billionaires in the 2021 state budget. Together we will be the statewide demand to make sure our children and their education remain a top priority for elected officials.”