Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
February 2, 2015
Dear Mr. Cuomo
I teach in a tiny school in the True North of NY. Our school is located right in the middle of the Adirondack Park; a place you profess to support.
The goal is to keep pushing upstate New York as a must-see destination. "It's not just about fun," Cuomo said. "It's about economic development and jobs." (1)
"There is something really special about the energy,” says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on what draws him again and again to Adirondack Park. (2)
However, as seems to be the norm, your actions do not support your words and while you seem to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the Park and the North Country you do not understand how the people who live here and the small communities they have formed and lived in for generations are a part of that specialness. These families came to this part of the state and made a place for themselves in a manner that preserved its wonderful nature. It was and remains a struggle every day and it is a struggle that you have chosen to exacerbate with your refusal to learn and understand its needs. It is a place that we love and care for on a daily basis, a place we wish to remain in and raise our families in, a place that you in spite of your rhetoric seem bent on destroying through your so called education reform actions.
So let’s talk about how you are hurting the people who live here through your education policies alone. I want to be clear: I believe your policies are hurting our public education system statewide. I am speaking about the Park and the True North of NY because I am directly connected to that area and I see and hear firsthand how schools and communities are struggling under your leadership.
You mentioned economic development in one of your comments about upstate. Economic development in the Park area is a difficult thing to promote. There are many rules and regulations as well as natural features that prohibit companies from operating here. Many people travel to outside areas to find work, many people are self-employed and many have jobs at their local schools or work for the town itself. These jobs for the most part have been full time jobs with a steady income and benefits. They are jobs that until - you took office - were ones that people had a favorable view of. Teachers, firemen, road crew, and councilmen were all respected people in their communities. With your cuts in school funding, your property tax cap, your super majority vote and your constant attacks on people who have these types of jobs you have pitted the people in our communities against each other. Schools, teachers and local politicians are no longer trusted and this attitude hurts the community and the students. Schools are a very large part of economic stability and growth in the North Country, losing and or downsizing our schools means a loss of jobs, a negative growth factor for our towns and it is not good for our students.
Jobs was also on your list of things that upstate needs. Employers need well educated young people to fill positions that become available. Schools here are doing their best to provide this education in spite of you choosing to not fund them. There have been so many cuts to our programs up here that providing a well rounded education is becoming more and more difficult. Our students are losing programming in the arts, technology, business, library, phys. ed, distance learning, AP and college level classes. How can schools continue to produce high achieving well rounded students when they have to continue to cut programs to assuage your seemingly endless desire to eliminate them? The Smart Bond passed, schools can now buy new technology yet they do not have the money to hire the staff to use this new equipment and technology. It would have been more practical to restore foundation aid or eliminate the GEA than to pass the Smart Schools Bond at this point. I am proud that schools like Minerva Central (which is operating on a contingency budget) are finding ways to beat you at your own game. They are finding ways to continue to support our students and send them the message that they are valued, we do care and we will continue to care. I am proud that in seeing their teachers advocate for them that they also began to advocate for their school.
Consolidation and regionalization are often part of your rhetoric. As I stated above the communities in this area have been here for generations and schools are the heart of these towns. The school building is many times the focus of town wide events, schools and towns often collaborate on services and events. Remove the school, remove the heart. And once again, rather than find a positive way to introduce this option you have chosen a negative way to deliver this message. You have chosen to force schools to close and in essence created a hostile takeover scenario for them, you have created fear and angst among our students who wonder if they will have a school to return to at the beginning of the new school year.
It is my perception that you are attempting to apply the same fix to schools statewide because you believe they are all failing. While there are struggling schools in the state, their struggles do not all come from the same place and they need different kinds of help to overcome their struggles. There are also contrary to your message to our citizens’, wonderful schools in NYS who have been very successful in educating our young people. Schools that are now struggling to remain successful in the toxic atmosphere you have created for them.
I do not understand the path you have chosen to take. It truly hurts me when my students ask me why the library is closed to them; I have no answers for them when they ask why their state government has chosen to dismantle their education. I am afraid when a community member tells me that because I became a teacher I created the problem and I am the reason they are struggling. I am afraid because this tells me that you have been successful in distracting them to the point where they do not see the bigger picture.
You can play the blame game all you want Governor but you can’t change the fact that you as our leader brought us to this point. You have chosen to lead in a negative manner and I have no confidence in you any longer. I do not believe that you have mine, nor my students or even New York State’s best interests at heart. I am requesting that you step down and allow someone who truly cares about New York State as a whole to take your place.
#AllKidsNeed #noconfidence #minervacares @NYGovCuomo @nysut
Minerva Central School
1. Mann, Brian. "Cuomo Cheerleads Adirondack, Lake Placid Tourism." Cuomo Cheerleads Adirondack, Lake Placid Tourism. North Country Public Radio, n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.
2. Santelmann, Neal. "Exploring Adirondack Park with the Governor." Gotham Magazines RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.