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Educators show Teachout support, NYSUT doesn't endorse Cuomo

Thomas Altfather Good
via Flickr
Zephyr Teachout is running for the Democratic nomination in this fall's gubernatorial race.

Many teachers and educators have had a fractious relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his four years in office over a number of issues, including school funding, the Common Core curriculum; and teacher evaluations.

It’s no surprise then that many are throwing their support behind one of Cuomo's opponents in the September primary.

Zephyr Teachout, a liberal Fordham Law School professor running against Cuomo, said she would fully fund education during a campaign stop in Syracuse. It is a message that resonated with several educators during her whistle-stop tour, including  teacher Phil Cleary.

“I would guess about two-thirds of the people here are public school teachers, on a day they could be do something else," Cleary said. "And they came out because they care about kids in schools, and they care about somebody who wants to support them.”

Cleary says a majority of Teachout supporters were educators who aren’t happy with Cuomo.  

"They know when they’ve been treated badly," Cleary said. "They know when our schools have been denied the funds they need. They know when our kids are having a hard time. They know our governor has turned his back on public schools. He will try to say otherwise, but the fact is, our schools are underfunded.”

The teacher sentiment is also evident in the fact that Cuomo has never had the support of the New York State United Teachers union, either in 2010 or this year.

NYSUT also joined another public employees union last month to block the AFL-CIO endorsement of Cuomo, and a Buffalo teachers union has gone as far as to endorse Teachout.

Cuomo, speaking to reporters at the New York State Fair this year, says he has a legitimate difference of opinion with teachers.

"To the teachers I said, I think teacher evaluation is very important," Cuomo explained. "And it’s not just about more money for education. We spend more money on education that any state in the nation. It’s about  how we’re spending the money. It’s about performance.”

Cuomo is expected to win the September 9 primary, which pits him against Teachout and comedian Randy Credico.

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.