As Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushes ahead with a slew of controversial education reforms, the teachers union has organized its members to fight back, with invitations. Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
During his re-election campaign last fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited a public school on Long Island.
It's a classic scene: politician visits classroom, talks briefly with teachers and students, maybe even reads to the children, all for the benefit of reporters and photographers.
Except with Gov. Cuomo, it's not so ordinary. This is actually the only video we have of Cuomo inside a school in the state, though he's now in his fifth year as governor.
And yet, he says his top priority, is: "Education, the great equalizer. This is the area my friends where I think we need to do the most reform and where, frankly, reform is going to be difficult.
Difficult because the powerful teachers unions are opposed to almost all of his proposals, like making it more challenging for teachers to get tenure and much easier to fire poorly performing educators.
And now the unions are working to paint the governor as out-of-touch by highlighting how infrequently he visits schools:
"Governor, tough talk is not the answer. Come visit my classroom to learn what all kids need to get a great education,” says a UFT video.
In addition to the ad campaign, teachers have tweeted the hashtag #invitecuomo nearly 10,000 times, trying to get the governor to see them in action, or some would say, to embarrass him.
Although appearances by politicians in classrooms usually are nothing more than photo ops, teachers we spoke with still say it's important the governor visit some schools.
“I think it would be different because he would respect us a little bit more. He hasn't really been showing us respect lately,” said a teacher.
We found records of the governor visiting four schools, just one of which was in the city.
That was P-Tech in Brooklyn, where Cuomo attended a speech by President Barack Obama. The Governor's office did not respond to our questions about his schedule, or the union's campaign.