Susan Arbetter tried her best to get an answer from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on changes to the school aid formula, but came away essentially empty handed.
Ms. Arbetter, the host of The Capitol Pressroom, interviewed Mr. Cuomo this morning and spoke to him for 10 minutes, exclusively about the school aid changes.
"That will be the discussion with the Legislature," Mr. Cuomo said. "How do we allocate the aid? How does need count? How does political balance count?"
Mr. Cuomo did not answer the questions that he posed.
The school aid formula, advocates and the state's association of school boards has said, is really unfair to poor, rural districts — the ones where you were probably educated or where your kids are getting educated now.
The Board of Regents has suggested changing that. So has state Sen. Patty Ritchie and Assemblywoman Addie Russell.
Mr. Cuomo, though, framed the conversation thusly: We can't just throw money at the education problem in the state, because that doesn't get results. Incentives. Performance. Etc.
"I want to bring that new emphasis to the conversation," Mr. Cuomo said. "I know everybody wants to revert back to, 'Tell me how much my salary is going up.' Talk to me about the students’ scores, first."
That's all well and good, but it's not just teachers and superintendents who want a pay raise, north country advocates say. It's about kids who don't have the same educational opportunities — the dearth of foreign language and arts instruction is usually the first thing they say. Studies conclude that poor districts received the most disproportionate cut in the most recent state budget trimming, and that rich schools got away relatively unscathed.
It's easy to think that students in Long Island are getting manicures and listening to Chopin over the morning intercom, but the folks down there also say their schools aren't in great shape, either. New York City, too, will have something to say about this before it's all said and done.
For now, on school aid, Mr. Cuomo is staying above the fray.