Tag Archives: Cuomo


Excelsior: Free Tuition for Whom?

By Steve Brier

If you’ve at all been confused about or even impressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s widely touted Excelsior Scholarship program that was just voted into law by the New York State legislature, a good place to start to deal with your questions and concerns is Lauren Gurley’s article in the May issue of The Indypendent, “Free Higher Ed for a Few.”

Gurley’s piece reveals the ways Excelsior serves as a giveaway to NY State’s middle class taxpayers — especially those who would like to send their kids to SUNY schools — while denying real and much-needed support to CUNY’s working-class and poor students who will hardly benefit from Excelsior, given the scholarship’s extremely restrictive terms. Cuomo is trying to burnish his progressive credential in anticipation for his 2020 run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Gurley interviewed me at length for the piece and I’m quoted a few times, including the final statement:

“We made a commitment as a nation in the post-World War II period that public education would be free and available to everyone who was interested in pursuing it. And we created institutions like city colleges, junior colleges and state colleges […] It was a different world. And that is the world, I would argue, that we should go back to.”

For the full article, visit The Indypendent.

You can also listen to Lauren Gurley´s article on iTunes or Soundcloud as part of a the new Indy Audio podcast, where you can listen to articles from The Indypendent.


Photo by MTA via flickr (CC-BY)


Gov. Cuomo Announces State Will Fully Fund CUNY Next Year

In a reversal from his recent vow to defund the CUNY system by shifting $485 million in costs onto New York City, Gov. Cuomo’s office announced yesterday that New York State would pay the full $1.6 billion CUNY budget next year, after all. This funding is contingent on the hiring of a management efficiency expert, who will identify new opportunities for cost-cutting.

While heralded as good news by some, many argue that it’s still far from enough. From Gothamist:

“Of course it’s good for CUNY not to face a reduction, but that is just the starting line,” PSC CUNY President Barbara Bowen told Gothamist. “If all that has been accomplished in this budget season is that CUNY is back to where it started in funding, that is not enough…it’s not enough just to say CUNY was saved from a gigantic, devastating cut.”

Yesterday, more than 500 people demonstrated outside Cuomo’s office in midtown Manhattan, demanding that the final state budget, due April 1st, include increased investment in CUNY and fund contracts for the 35,000 CUNY faculty and staff members who they say have worked for years without a raise.

Protestors were confined by police to pens across the street from the office, chanting “C-U-N-Y, don’t let CUNY die,” but dozens exited the pens and staged a die-in directly outside the office building. They laid down in rows, blocking the building entrance, and after police issued three warnings, 41 people were arrested, including Bowen and City Council member Inez Barron, who chairs the City Council’s committee on higher education.

Read the full post at Gothamist.

Photo by hjjanisch via flickr (CC-BY-ND).

Open Letter from CUNY Foundation Board Chairs to State Government

Foundation Board Chairs from all of the CUNY colleges and professional schools penned an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the members of the State Assembly and Senate concerning the present budget situation at CUNY. This letter ran in the New York Times today and is copied in part below.

We write to you as the volunteer leaders of the boards of foundations supporting every college of The City University of New York (CUNY). Along with the hundreds of New Yorkers who serve on our boards, and the thousands of generous donors who last year contributed over $250 million to the University, we are deeply concerned — more concerned than we have ever been — about the health, future and continued independence of CUNY. We are calling on you now to support this vitally important institution.
Continue reading Open Letter from CUNY Foundation Board Chairs to State Government

Put to the Test: CUNY Faculty Considers Strike Vote As Cuomo Toys With University’s Future

This article was originally featured at the Indypendent.

By Peter Rugh

Hundreds of people swamped 42nd Street one day last November, forcing police to shut down a section of the busy thoroughfare. These weren’t tourists or Broadway ticketholders gone mad, but professors from the City University of New York (CUNY) and their supporters, 53 of whom were arrested for sitting down and blocking the doors of CUNY’s administrative headquarters. 

“We took matters into our own hands,” said James Davis, a member of the English Department at Brooklyn College since 2003. “It might seem like an ironic statement given that the cops tied our hands behind our backs, but we were making a strong public statement in opposition to CUNY’s austerity regime.” 

With 278,000 degree students enrolled in more than two dozen undergraduate and graduate schools, CUNY is the nation’s largest urban university system. Since it was founded in 1847 as the Free Academy of the City of New York with a mission to “serve the children of the whole people,” CUNY has served as a gateway to opportunity for working-class students. That continues to this day with 75 percent of undergrads being students of color and more than half coming from households earning less than $30,000 per year. Since the 1970s CUNY has been the largest granter of degrees to students of color in the United States. Continue reading Put to the Test: CUNY Faculty Considers Strike Vote As Cuomo Toys With University’s Future

Teachout’s Teach Out

By Joshua Freeman

This election season has seen an unusually open battle regarding political strategy among New York unionists and progressives.  At stake is a crucial issue: how to balance the demands of building a movement that can fundamentally change a political and economic system that fails to serve most Americans against the existing political arrangements that benefit particular groups of workers. This was the key issue at the Working Families Party convention last May.

In 2010, the WFP backed Cuomo even as he attacked public sector unions and ran as a pro-business centrist. Once in office, he forced state workers to accept repugnant give-back contracts under the threat of mass layoffs, fought to lower taxes at the expense of services, and blocked various progressive initiatives.

This year, many WFP activists vowed not to go down the same road again. Continue reading Teachout’s Teach Out

Progressive Urban Policy Meets Albany: 2014

Eve Baron is the Academic Program Manager of Urban Studies at The Murphy Institute

New York City Mayor de Blasio came into office on a platform to rewrite the city’s “Tale of Two Cities,” a reference to the stark and growing differences between the life chances of the city’s rich and poor. One of his first policy initiatives was focused on children—universal pre- kindergarten. Universal pre-k programs have long been seen by education advocates as critical to children’s future academic and social success, and critical to support the needs of working parents. De Blasio was successful, in that New York State Governor Cuomo agreed to a budget deal this year that would fund universal pre-k, yet the Mayor failed to reach his goal of a permanent funding stream—he was not able to persuade the state legislature to allow the city to levy higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for the program. Short of that, NYC’s pre-k programs will need to be re-funded each budget cycle. Perhaps even bigger are  questions of gaining autonomy over the tax levy process—if NYC had more control, could we enact a more broadly progressive agenda—one that included pre-k and low-cost housing, after-school programs and infrastructure funding, for example?

Continue reading Progressive Urban Policy Meets Albany: 2014