||BREAKING|52,407 views|May 6, 2020,07:09pm EDT
Cuomo Faces Backlash For Enlisting Billionaires Eric Schmidt And Bill Gates To ‘Reimagine’ NY After Reopening
Rachel SandlerForbes Staff
I cover breaking news.
Updated May 7, 2020, 01:29pm EDT
TOPLINE New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has enlisted former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates this week to “reimagine” how the state’s approach to education and technology might change during and after the pandemic—but the move has drawn backlash from local officials and education advocates who say the state shouldn’t be depending on wealthy unelected officials.
NY Governor Cuomo Holds Coronavirus Briefing At Northwell Feinstein Institute For Medical Research
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a Coronavirus Briefing At Northwell Feinstein Institute ... [+] PHOTO BY AL BELLO/GETTY IMAGES
Schmidt and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have both been tasked in separate efforts to help determine what the state may look like after the pandemic subsides and when schools reopen.
Some progressive local officials slammed Cuomo for leaning on billionaires for assistance, with Deputy State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris saying, “These are not people who should determine for us how best to provide services to everyday New Yorkers.”
Local education advocates in particular blasted the Gates Foundation, which has a fraught history among teachers and parent groups over its support for Common Core, a controversial standardized testing program implemented in New York and elsewhere.
"Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation have promoted one failed educational initiative after another, causing huge disaffection in districts throughout the state,” the New York State Allies for Public Education wrote in a letter to Cuomo.
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Cuomo also drew criticism for seemingly putting too much stock in remote learning as the “new normal” instead of face-to-face teaching, further enraging local education groups and teacher’s unions.
Neither Cuomo’s office nor the Gates Foundation immediately responded to a request for comment from Forbes. A spokesperson for Schmidt declined to comment.
“First Bill Gates and now Eric Schmidt. These are not people who should determine for us how best to provide services to everyday New Yorkers,” Gianaris said. “Instead, we should tax them more so people whose job it is to decide state policy can do so more effectively.”
Over the past decade, the Gates Foundation has gained notoriety in the education reform movement for backing splashy initiatives, such as Common Core, that critics say are ultimately ineffective. A Gates Foundation-backed program that evaluated teachers based on standardized test scores and peer observations, for example, “did not achieve its stated goals for students,” a report found in 2018.
In the past, the Gates Foundation has acknowledged why some might be reticent of its efforts, saying in the foundation’s 2020 letter they “understand why many people are skeptical about the idea of billionaire philanthropists designing classroom innovations or setting education policy. Frankly, we are, too.”
“Bill and I have always been clear that our role isn’t to generate ideas ourselves; it’s to support innovation driven by people who have spent their careers working in education: teachers, administrators, researchers, and community leaders,” Melinda wrote.
Cuomo named Schmidt, who led Google from 2001-2011, as chair of a commission on Wednesday tasked with advising the state on how it can better use technology after the pandemic. The 15-person commission will first prioritize telehealth, remote learning and expanding broadband access. On Tuesday, Cuomo announced the Gates Foundation partnership, which will be used to determine how school systems can more easily integrate technology and remote learning. And in late April, Cuomo announced a partnership with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to develop an expansive contact tracing system to use both during and possibly during future outbreaks.
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I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. I’ve previously reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San… Read More
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