Education has been a hot-button topic in New York politics - Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is turning up the heat by calling for reversing Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to withhold school aid from New York City. This development breaks as advocates warn a "Child care crisis" is set to impact the state economy.
Speaker Silver came forward Sunday pledging to restore, in the budget plan the Assembly is now preparing, 260-million dollars in school aid that Governor Cuomo threatened to sideline because the Big Apple missed a deadline to finalize a teacher evaluation system.
Silver's move came days after a judge ruled the state couldn't withhold any funding from the city until a court decided on a lawsuit challenging the legality of such a penalty. His stance puts him at odds with fellow-Democrat Cuomo at a time when the Governor has seen his poll numbers diminish in what observers say is reaction to the sweeping gun law reforms rushed through Albany. The Assembly's democratic majority is poised to make restoring the aid a top priority during budget negotiations.
Cuomo previously stipulated that any school district failing to finalize an evaluation deal by January 17th would be deemed ineligible for a planned increase in state education aid.
Meanwhile, advocates say a “perfect storm” of diminished funding, increasing costs, and a growing low-wage workforce is straining New York's childcare program to the breaking point. A new report from Downstate business leaders, entitled "Boosting New York's Economy: Short and Long Term Economic Gains through Quality Early Learning" says without quality early child care and education, the future holds unqualified workers and potential bad citizens and a failing economy. On the other hand, Children enrolled in high-quality early-learning programs are more apt to excel academically and financially as adults.
NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn applauds Governor Cuomo's effort to expand full-day pre-K. He agrees more needs to be done. Michael DeLouise , president, Mellville Chamber of Commerce on Long Island , says investments in high-quality early care and education have a “multiplier effect” – giving an immediate boost to New York businesses and long-term economic benefits through a more skilled future workforce.
Advocates across New York are calling for a change in the allocation formula for the child care subsidy. Governor Cuomo's office did not return calls for comment.