Updated: 03/25/2015 11:07 PM
Created: 03/25/2015 10:34 AM WNYT.com
By: Anna Meiler
Teachers rally against Cuomo's education policies,
BURNT HILLS - With the state budget deadline a week away, teachers are fighting back against Governor Cuomo's education agenda.
Teachers are hoping there's power in numbers as several hundred gather in the auditorium of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School to protest the governor's education reforms tied to the state budget, especially his proposal to base half a teacher's evaluation on standardized test scores up from the current 20 percent.
“Recognize that in many districts, such as my district where I teach in Schenectady, that we do not have a teacher problem, but a poverty problem,” proclaimed one teacher as she stood at a podium in front of a packed auditorium.
Teachers say this kind of pressure will transform the classroom from a creative space to a test prep factory that damages a student's education.
"Science, social studies and classes for the arts- gone. These academic skills are not tested by the state so teachers are forced to focus more heavily on reading and math," said another teacher.
Cuomo has promised $1.1 billion in education funding if his reforms are passed, but only $377 million if they're not. BHBL Teachers Association President Mike Mossal says there should be no ultimatum.
“We have a huge surplus in the state, yet he's tying this to tricks and gimmicks. He's creating a manufactured crisis,” said Mossal.
Many say Cuomo is stealing children's love of learning and teachers' love of instruction.
One educator eligible for retirement soon says, "I want to make that decision on whether to leave based on a list of factors that does not include Governor Cuomo driving me out."
Others worry that the current climate of the education system in New York is already deterring aspiring teachers from entering the field at all. As Mossal put it, “people don't want to be teachers anymore.”
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