Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that the state will collaborate with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “reimagine education” in New York because of changes brought about by the Covid-19 epidemic.
Many of the steps outlined by Cuomo revolve around technology. But the New York State School Boards Association immediately questioned the collaboration, saying that some of Gates’ “education initiatives have been controversial. That includes Gates’ work to support the Common Core, use test scores to evaluate teachers and, more recently, help states update graduation standards. All have been described by evaluators, including some hired by Gates, as falling short of the foundation’s ambitious goals.”
Cuomo’s list of points to be considered include:
- How can we technology to provide more opportunities to students no matter where they are;
- How can we provide shared education among schools and colleges using technology;
- How can technology reduce educational inequality, including for English as a new language students;
- How can we use technology to meet educational needs of students with disabilities;
- How can we provide educators more tools to use technology;
- How can technology break down barriers to K-12 and colleges and universities to provide greater access to high quality education no matter where the student lives; and
- Given ongoing socially distancing rules, how can we deploy classroom technology, like immersive cloud virtual classrooms learning, to re-create larger class or lecture hall environments in different locations?
Cuomo said the state will work with a group of leaders to consider those questions in collaboration with the Gates Foundation, which, Cuomo said, will bring together national and international experts, as well as provide expert advice as needed.
“The last few months have been an incredibly stressful time full of change, but we have to learn and grow from this situation and make sure we build our systems back better than they were before,” Cuomo said. “One of the areas we can really learn from is education because the old model of our education system where everyone sits in a classroom is not going to work in the new normal. When we do reopen our schools let’s reimagine them for the future, and to do that we are collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and exploring smart, innovative education alternatives using all the new technology we have at our disposal.”
New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said,”“NYSUT believes in the education of the whole child. Remote learning, in any form, will never replace the important personal connection between teachers and their students that is built in the classroom and is a critical part of the teaching and learning process — which is why we’ve seen educators work so hard during this pandemic to maintain those connections through video chats, phone calls and socially distant in-person meetings. If we want to reimagine education, let’s start with addressing the need for social workers, mental health counselors, school nurses, enriching arts courses, advanced courses and smaller class sizes in school districts across the state. Let’s secure the federal funding and new state revenues through taxes on the ultrawealthy that can go toward addressing these needs. And let’s recognize educators as the experts they are by including them in these discussions about improving our public education system for every student.”
On Facebook, several parents reacted angrily.
“What credentials does this guy have?? He’s not a Doctor or a college graduate to start!!! He can’t even prevent virus from hitting Microsoft software!!! This guy came up with common core which is the stupidest thing ever, now our beloved Governor is working with him on behalf of education????… here’s a guy who sent his kids to private schools, and he’s going to tell our children how to learn!! ”
A teacher wrote, ” School NEEDS to be a social experience. It is so much more than reading, writing, math, history, etc. In school we teach empathy, kindness, friendship, citizenship, social awareness. To take kids out of the classroom is to rob them of their most valuable lessons.”
“Oh cool, Cuomo and Bill Gates are using the pandemic to destroy public education…,” another person wrote.
Cuomo also talked about the human cost of reopening.