ALBANY—The Working Families Party released a statement Wednesday criticizing Andrew Cuomo, the party’s candidate for governor, for his comments comparing the state’s public school system to a “public monopoly.”
“Governor Cuomo is wrong on this one,” the W.F.P.’s state director Bill Lipton said in a statement to Capital.
“His proposed policies on public education will weaken, not strengthen our public education system, and they would represent a step away from the principle of high quality public education for all students. High stakes testing and competition are not the answer. Investment in the future is the answer, and that means progressive taxation and adequate resources for our schools.”
Earlier this week Cuomo told the Daily News editorial board that, if he’s re-elected, he intends to “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies,” vowing to challenge public school teachers by supporting stricter teacher evaluations and competition from charter schools.
Those comments drew some cautious criticism from the state teachers’ union.
But the union later released a statement, in which president Karen Magee said: “Public education is for the public good. It is not a monopoly. It is the centerpiece of our democracy and what makes our nation great.”
A labor-backed advocacy group, Alliance for Quality Education, also criticized the governor’s comments, using harsher language.
“Gov. Cuomo has laid clear plans to expand his frontal assault on our public schools through high stakes testing, starving our public schools and privatization,” Billy Easton, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “It’s not that shocking when you look at the enormous pile of cash he has raked in from the Wall Street billionaires who are investing in charter schools. He is rewarding his financial backers at a devastating cost to our children.”
Teachers lashed at out Cuomo on Twitter throughout the day, using #CuoMonopoly.
The W.F.P. statement marks an unusual rebuke for a party of its own candidate, less than one week before the general election, and comes amid ongoing tensions between Cuomo and the left-leaning party.
The W.F.P. endorsed Cuomo earlier this year only after extracting significant concessions from him to support some key components of the party’s platform, including his promise to push for Democratic control of the state Senate, seek an increase in the minimum wage, and pass the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants access to public college tuition assistance.
But Cuomo and the party hold very different positions on education, and the governor, who has become a champion for charter schools, notably did not sign on to the party’s education platform as part of the terms of his endorsement deal.
Howie Hawkins said today that while he is looking forward to participating in a gubernatorial debate in Buffalo with Governor Cuomo and Republican Rob Astorino, he said that all debates should be open to all candidates on the ballot.
“The law should be changed so that if you want to run for office in New York State, you have to agree to participate in a series of public debates with all candidates who meet the legal requirements to be on the ballot,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins noted that after Jesse Ventura’s first debate in Minnesota, his support doubled, and after seven more open debates, he was elected Governor. At 9% in the polls, Hawkins is polling better than Ventura was before debates were held.
“New York State has a progressive majority and I am the only progressive left on the ballot. New York progressives have a right to have their candidate in all the debates,” Hawkins said.
“Debates aired over the public airwaves, co-sponsored by a public radio station, should include all candidates. The arbitrary selection of who is allowed to participate in debates is an affront to the democratic process,” Hawkins said, in reference to the sponsorship of public radio’s WNYC and the Wall Street Journal of a debate to which Hawkins has not been invited. The Wall Street Journal’s own September 24 poll showed that 78% of voters want all of the candidates on the ballot in debates.
Hawkins’ poll numbers have steadily increased during the campaign season since he polled 4% in June in the first poll that included him. A Siena poll released on Sept 23 showed Hawkins at 24% in his hometown of Syracuse. Hawkins is polling better than any independent progressive statewide candidate in New York’s history. Polls released the week of September 22 show Hawkins at 9% (Marist) and 7% (Siena) statewide.
Hawkins has accepted the debate invitation from The Buffalo News and WNED-WBFO. Hawkins has also accepted an invitation to a televised debate proposed by WRGB (CBS) the Sinclair Broadcasting Group.
Howie Hawkins won the Green Party nomination for Governor in Troy on Saturday, setting up a rematch with Andrew Cuomo. Hawkins says he plans to challenge the 1% tag team of Cuomo and Republican nominee Astorino on economic, climate change and criminal justice issues. Hawkins also wants NY to go carbon free with a 100%, clean renewable energy by 2030, while providing a public living wage job to any New Yorker who needs one.
The Greens selected NYC Educator Brian Jones to highlight their opposition to Cuomo’s education policies promoting privatization of the education system, including his promotion of the Common Core agenda and charter schools. The Greens are seeking full funding to meet the educational needs of New Yorkers, including free tuition at CUNY and SUNY.
The question before progressive advocates of public campaign financing in New York State is whether we push for full public campaign finance on the Clean Money model of equal and sufficient funding grants for all qualified candidates, or whether we settle for partial public campaign financing on the Matching Funds model used for presidential primaries [...]
The Green Party of New York State has called for environmental concerns to be a priority in the response to the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy. “Failure to pay adequate attention to environmental concerns for decades is a major reason why this storm was so damaging. We need to make sure that the Governor, [...]