Reverend William Barber spoke in Albany, New York about the immorality of funding cuts to public education in that state.
January 17, 2015

Under New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, inequity in education has become worse and worse to the point where teachers, citizens, students and even Reverend William Barber are speaking out against draconian funding cuts.

Cuomo argues that he's being a good steward of taxpayer dollars. Others point out that Cuomo is pushing taxpayer dollars into privatized (and profit-centered) education initiatives.

What I see is Cuomo, a Democrat-lite, attacking teachers.

Cuomo has vowed to break what he called the public school “monopoly” with a series of reforms that include more charter schools, tougher teacher evaluation standards, and a continuation of his cap on property tax increases.

But the coalition argues that the real problem facing public education is the funding discrepancies between wealthy and poor school districts.

The inequity gaps were made worse by nearly $400 per pupil, the report says, after Cuomo won a 2% cap on local property tax increases that made it more difficult for needy districts to raise needed money, the report says.

New York State is home to hedge fund moguls, Wall Street bankers, and ordinary people. Why is Cuomo protecting the bankers and moguls at the expense of the less fortunate?

Answer: There's not a lot of daylight between Cuomo and his neighboring governor, Chris Christie. They both like to bully teachers, they've got no use for unions unless they're police unions in which case unions are completely fine, and they curry the favor of wealthy folks by giving short shrift to the regular people struggling to get their kids a decent education.

This is why Reverend Barber came to New York and why Moral Mondays are likely to be a recurring event in Albany. Speaking to the crowd, Barber reminded them that education is a civil right, and that the state has an obligation to see to it that all citizens have access to a quality education.

The protest on Monday highlights why Democrats really need a much tighter definition of who they are. It isn't enough to say you're pro-education. You need to be pro-public education. Unions are made of up working people who vote for Democrats because they're supposed to stand for working people.

If the likes of Andrew Cuomo don't think there's a political reward in standing up for those working people, then they should feel the political penalty for turning their back on them. Charter schools aren't the answer. Properly maintained facilities, adequate textbooks, decent classroom sizes and qualified teachers are.

Will Cuomo stand with teachers and all people, or cater to his wealthy donors? Stay tuned.

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