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Teachers say Cuomo's reform proposals have hurt governor's relationship with educators

Ellen Abbott
Auburn teacher John Ferrara and other teachers deliver letters to lawmakers criticizing Cuomo's education reform policies.

This budget season in Albany has further eroded the relationship between teachers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

When Cuomo linked school reform to school spending in this year’s budget process, it ratcheted up the rancor from teachers, school districts and some parents across the state.   

Chittenango history teacher Mark Bailey says the thing that strikes him is that it’s been a tactic that he believes hasn’t had much support.

"People have spoken on this issue, locally, parents, teachers, polls have shown that people think the governor is wrong on this issue,” said Bailey.

Many educators have not had an easy relationship with Cuomo since he was first elected in 2010. Teachers have become a target for the Democrat, as he’s focused on improving failing schools -- by way of more high-stake standardized testing, basing a greater portion of teacher evaluations on those tests, as well as promoting outside control over troubled schools.

Auburn High School history teacher John Ferrara believes Albany is blaming teachers for problems they aren’t causing.

“The core problem is, the fact of the matter is, that we’ve seen poverty in all districts go up. And nobody’s tackling that, nor is there the money being present for that. Instead you have a group being blamed. I am one of that group,” said Ferrara.

For the two sides to come together in the future, educators say teachers have to have more of a say in reform proposals.

Bailey, for one says the only compromise on teacher evaluations he would support is a Task Force to look into the standardized testing issue, if teachers an educators are involved.

And Ferrara says there’s always a chance teachers can gain more of a voice in any proposed changes.

"Right now, no. But, you always have a chance to rebuild. Teachers never give up on anybody, so I’d say, yeah, absolutely.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.