When it comes to education, Governor Andrew Cuomo's policies have changed dramatically over the past year. NY1's education reporter Lindsey Christ explains.
Governor Cuomo's State of the State address stretched for an hour and 31 minutes, but less than five minutes were devoted to a topic that dominated his previous annual addresses: education.
"Last year we made dramatic changes," he said.
What actually happened is that the governor reversed course after parents and teachers revolted against many of his policies, in particular his proposal last year for state standardized tests to count for up to half of a teacher's annual evaluation score.
"I understand there's going to be political problems for people on both sides of the aisle, and they will be besieged by lobbyists, and I understand the political consequence of what I'm asking you to do in making these reforms," the governor said in 2015.
The teachers' union lobbyists were not the only ones who were upset. More than 200,000 parents refused to let their children take the high stakes state tests. Now Cuomo says test scores shouldn't count at all toward teachers' evaluations, at least for the next few years.
"We saw that parents were losing faith in the system. Roughly 20 percent of our students opted out of exams and in some districts as high as 90 percent opted out," Cuomo said. "Simply put, the education system fails without parental trust."
Even though he was a driving force behind testing policies, the governor appeared to distance himself from the proposal by blaming the State Education Department (SED), which he doesn't control.
"We urge SED to do it right this time," he said.
And it wasn't just parents that Cuomo extended an olive branch to; he proposed a $200 tax credit for teachers who pay for classroom materials out of their own pockets:
"I'm really more pleased to see the shift in the conversation," said Karen E. Magee, the president of the state teachers' union.
Cuomo's most substantial education proposal this year is to spend $100 million to turn struggling schools into community schools with health clinics and services for parents, an idea that the teachers' union has pushed for years and one his rival Mayor Bill de Blasio has already embraced here in the city.