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New York State and Gates Foundation to 'reimagine education' during COVID-19 closings

Niagara Falls schools to revamp health, sex education programs
Posted at 8:29 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 23:21:29-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, schools are closed for the rest of the academic year in New York State. Whenever class is back in session, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants public education to look different.

“Let's take this experience and really learn how we can do differently and better with our education system, in terms of technology and virtual education,” said Governor Cuomo at his Tuesday COVID-19 media briefing.

How education will be different isn't exactly clear. The Governor announced the state will work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“His ideas and thoughts on technology and education, he's spoken about it for years. But, I think we have a moment in history where we can actually incorporate and advance those ideas,” said Cuomo.

According to the state these are the question the Gates Foundation will consider:

  • • How can we use technology to provide more opportunities to students no matter where they are;
  • • How can we provide shared education among schools and colleges using technology;
  • • How can technology reduce educational inequality, including English as a new language students;
  • • How can we use technology to meet educational needs of students with disabilities;
  • • How can we provide educators more tools to use technology;
  • • How can technology break down barriers to K-12 and Colleges and Universities to provide greater access to high quality education no matter where the student lives; and
  • • Given ongoing socially distancing rules, how can we deploy classroom technology, like immersive cloud virtual classrooms learning, to recreate larger class or lecture hall environments in different locations?

“Immediately red flags went up.” Said Chris Cerrone, with the New York Allies for Public Education.

What made Cerrone think twice about this initiative is the fact that the Gates Foundation is getting involved with public education.

A report in 2018 essentially stated that a half a billion dollar project that used test scores to evaluate teachers, didn't work. The Gates Foundation was the main source of funding for that project.

“Oh no, you're going to go someone who really doesn't know about education and has a lot of money, but doesn't really know what's going on in classrooms,” said Cerrone.

Cerrone is for change to New York public education, just a different change.

“Are we going to invest in technology that Gates might promote or are we going to invest in people? And I think that is the important thing to take out of this,” explained Cerrone.

The New York State United Teachers President, Andy Pallotta released this statement:

"NYSUT believes in the education of the whole child. Remote learning, in any form, will never replace the important personal connection between teachers and their students that is built in the classroom and is a critical part of the teaching and learning process — which is why we've seen educators work so hard during this pandemic to maintain those connections through video chats, phone calls and socially distant in-person meetings. If we want to reimagine education, let's start with addressing the need for social workers, mental health counselors, school nurses, enriching arts courses, advanced courses and smaller class sizes in school districts across the state. Let's secure the federal funding and new state revenues through taxes on the ultrawealthy that can go toward addressing these needs. And let's recognize educators as the experts they are by including them in these discussions about improving our public education system for every student."