Union blasts Cuomo’s plan to ‘reimagine education’ with focus on remote learning

May 10, 2020 by

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to “reimagine education” with the help of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, but the state teacher’s union thinks it’s a bad idea.

Cuomo irked the teachers unions Tuesday, when he leveraged the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to “reimagine education” in a way that relies less on physical classrooms and more on distance learning technology put in place since schools shut down in March, The Washington Post reports.

“We’ve all been talking about tele-education, virtual education, remote education, and there’s a lot that can be done. The old model of everybody goes and sits in the classroom, and the teacher is in the front of that classroom and teaches that class, and you do that all across the city, all across the state, all these buildings, all these physical classrooms – why, with all the technology you have?” Cuomo mused.

“We have classrooms in this state that have technology where they’re talking to students on Long Island with a teacher from Staten Island, with students from around the world participating with technology, hearing that one teacher,” he said. “And if you look at the technology, it looks like all these different students are in one classroom.”

Cuomo praised the state’s education system for a quick transition to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic and said officials should “take this experience and really learn how we can do differently and better with our education system in terms of technology and virtual education …”

To accomplish that, New York schools will work with “visionary” Bill Gates, who has championed a variety of education initiatives with mixed success.

“So it’s not just about reopening schools. When we are reopening schools, let’s open a better school and let’s open a smarter education system,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “And I want to thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We’ll be working with them on this project. Bill Gates is a visionary in many ways and his ideas and thoughts on technology and education, he’s spoken for years, but I think we now have a moment in history where we can actually incorporate and advance those ideas.”

Now is the time to change the status-quo, he argued.

“When does change come to a society? Because we all talk about change and advancement, but really we like control, and we like the status quo, and it’s hard to change the status quo,” Cuomo said. “But you get moments in history where people say, ‘Okay, I’m ready. I’m ready for change. I get it.’

“I think this is one of those moments,” he said.

Andy Pallotta, president of the New York State United Teachers, disagrees.

“NYSUT believes in the education of the whole child,” Pallotta wrote in a prepared statement cited by Patch.com. “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.”

He has a different vision for reimagining education, and it involves hiring a lot more union members.

“If we want to reimagine education, let’s start with addressing the need for social workers, mental health counselors, school nurses, enriching the arts courses, advanced courses and smaller class sizes in school districts across the state,” Pallotta wrote.

Raising taxes to pay for more government employees is the best solution to improving education, NYSUT argues.

“Let’s secure the federal funding and new state revenues through taxes on the ultra-wealthy that can go toward addressing these needs. And let’s recognize educators as the experts they are by including them in these discussion about improving our public education system for every student,” Pallotta wrote.

Instead, Cuomo is relying on the ultra-wealthy to guide his plans for education.

On Wednesday, he tapped former Google CEO Eric Schmidt to head his blue-ribbon commission to “reimagine” New York state, the Post reports.

Source: Union blasts Cuomo’s plan to ‘reimagine education’ with focus on remote learning | EAGnews.org

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