Capitol Roundup

Cuomo finishes State of the State tour, proposes funding for AP exams and computer science teachers

PHOTO: Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2017 regional State of the State address at the University at Albany.

When Governor Andrew Cuomo wrapped up his series of State of the State speeches on Wednesday, he had announced one major higher education proposal — free college tuition — and a smattering of K-12 programs designed to help needy students. (You can read his full State of the State booklet here.)

Some of the proposals, which must be approved by the legislature, were announced over the course of multiple speeches, including a plan to boost after-school offerings in some high-needs cities and expand Excellence in Teaching awards. On Wednesday, the governor also threw his support behind several initiatives that echo ones Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched in New York City, including a plan to help low-income students access Advanced Placement exams and a public-private partnership to train more computer science teachers.

Here is a roundup of some of his K-12 proposals:

After-school programs: The governor proposed $35 million to add 22,000 after-school spots in certain cities, including the Bronx. (Read more here.)

Fund AP exams: Cuomo proposed allocating $2 million to cover the Advanced Placement exam fee for 68,000 low-income students.

More Early College High Schools: The governor’s proposal includes an additional $5.3 million to expand Early College High Schools, which allow students to earn an associate’s degree along with a high school diploma. The funds, if approved, are expected to finance at least 10 new Early College High Schools, and under Cuomo’s plan the state’s “failing” or “persistently failing” schools would receive preference.

Support computer science teachers: Cuomo proposes expanding the state’s Master Teacher Program, which provides teachers a stipend and requires them to mentor peers, to include about 115 computer science teachers. He also wants to create a partnership with the tech sector to “help train educators across the state to teach computer science.”

Expand teaching awards: The governor wants to invest $400,000 to recognize at least 60 additional excellent teachers.

taking a stand

Colorado education leaders sign petition asking Washington officials to protect undocumented youth

PHOTO: J. Zubrzycki
DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg reads with a student at an event called Power Lunch.

Superintendents from Colorado’s two largest school districts have signed a petition asking President Trump and Congress to extend temporary protections for young undocumented immigrants — some of them teachers.

Denver’s Tom Boasberg and Jefferson County’s Dan McMinimee joined more than 1,000 educators from across the country in signing the petition drafted by the nonprofit education advocacy group Stand for Children.

The petition asks that officials keep alive former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and help pass the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act, first introduced in Congress in 2001, would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

The petition reads in part:

Out of concern for children and the strength of our nation, we respectfully call on officials at the highest levels of power to address this issue in an urgent way. Students must be able to attend school and graduate with a clear path toward a productive future, and teachers who were brought here as children must be able to continue to strengthen our schools and our nation.

Many in the education community raised concern after Trump was elected in November. Trump ran on a promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and end Obama’s deferment program. On Thursday, some of Colorado’s Latino lawmakers sent a letter to Trump asking him to back away from that promise.

Other education leaders in Colorado who signed the petition:

  • Savinay Chandrasekhar, executive director of Minds Matter of Denver, which provides tutoring and other support for low-income youth.
  • Kimberlee Sia, executive director of KIPP Colorado Schools, part of a national charter school network.
  • Lauren Trent, director of education partnerships of CareerWise Colorado, which is developing an apprenticeship program for Colorado youth set to debut this fall.
  • Michael Clough, superintendent of Sheridan School District, southwest of Denver.
  • Patricia Hanrahan, deputy superintendent of Englewood Schools.

Numerous Denver Public Schools teachers also signed the petition.

petition drive

School chiefs in Memphis, Nashville join education leaders urging protection of ‘Dreamers’ under Trump

The superintendents of Tennessee’s two largest school districts are among 1,500 education leaders to sign a petition asking for continued protection from deportation for “Dreamers,” young people brought to the U.S. as children.

Dorsey Hopson

Dorsey Hopson of Shelby County Schools and Shawn Joseph of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools are among chiefs of at least 15 urban districts to sign the letter. Also joining the campaign are at least 30 educators from mostly Memphis and Nashville, as well as leaders from charter and nonprofit organizations and teacher’s unions from across the nation.

The petition was released this week before Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday as the nation’s 45th president. During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to do away with the federal policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Policy, or DACA, as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration. However, he recently told Time magazine that he would “work something out” for people known as “Dreamers,” so named for the failed DREAM Act legislation that would provide a path toward citizenship.

The petition calls DACA “crucially important to public education across the country” and also urges passage of the DREAM Act. The drive was organized by Stand for Children, a nonprofit group that advocates for education equity in 11 states, including Tennessee.

Cardell Orrin, director of Stand for Children in Memphis, said the signatures show that “leaders in Nashville and Memphis care about what’s happening with our kids and want to see the dream continue for Dreamers.”

He added that school leaders are mobilized to work together in behalf of students if Trump attempts to do away with DACA.

“There may not be as many undocumented students here as in some of the others states (such as) Texas or Arizona. But this could still have great impact on kids in Tennessee,” Orrin said.

Among other Tennesseans signing the petition as of Friday were:

  • Marcus Robinson chief executive officer, Memphis Education Fund
  • Maya Bugg, chief executive officer, Tennessee Charter School Center
  • Brian Gilson, chief people officer, Achievement Schools, Memphis
  • Sonji Branch, affiliate director, Communities in Schools of Tennessee
  • Sylvia Flowers, executive director of educator talent, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Ginnae Harley, federal programs director, Knox County Schools

Read what Trump’s inauguration means for one undocumented Nashville student-turned-teacher.