Critics slam Cuomo’s plan to “reimagine” NY schools with Bill Gates foundation

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing criticism after announcing a plan with Bill Gates’ foundation to “reimagine” schools when they reopen after the coronavirus pandemic.

During a press briefing Tuesday, the New York governor wondered aloud if the “old model” of in-person learning was obsolete with today’s technology. He didn’t say buildings won’t reopen, but said the state is exploring the possibility that K-12 schools will utilize distancing learning in the future.

Cuomo also announced a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate possible changes to the education system, including providing more opportunities to students, using technology to reduce educational inequality, and recreating larger class or lecture hall environments with virtual classrooms.

“Bill Gates is a visionary in many ways, and his ideas and thoughts on technology and education he’s spoken about for years,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “But I think we now have a moment in history where we can actually incorporate and advance those ideas.

“We all talk about change and advancement, but really we like control and we like the status quo and it’s hard to change the status quo. But we get moments in history where people say, ‘OK, I’m ready. I’m ready for change. I get it.’ I think this is one of those moments.”

The Gothamist reports at least five organizations have already spoken out against the partnership, citing concerns about the Microsoft founder’s support of standardized testing and Common Core curriculum.

“Both the Gates Foundation and Andrew Cuomo have a history of pushing privatization and agendas that have the potential to destroy public schools,” Alliance for Quality Education executive director Jasmine Gripper told the publication. “This collaboration raises a red flag and real questions about what shape our ‘reimagined’ public schools will take post-pandemic, and whether they will be recognizable as public schools at all.”

Long Island Press reports New York will work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “reimagine” the state’s school system as part of broader reforms in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a daily briefing on Tuesday.

Cuomo, who has emerged as a leading national voice on states’ efforts to battle the crisis, said he believed people were starting to see the pandemic as a rare opportunity to make large-scale changes.

“We have paid a very high price for what we are going through. But the hope is that we learn from it and that we are the better for it,” Cuomo said, citing transportation, healthcare and schools as potential targets for reform.

“We don’t want to go through all of this and replace what was there before,” he said. “We want to build back better.”

Cuomo said hospitals needed to be made more resilient and noted that New York City’s subways would be shut for disinfection between 1 and 5 a.m. starting on Wednesday morning, likely presaging bigger changes for the nation’s largest public transit system in the coming months.

He outlined plans to work with the foundation of Microsoft Corp co-founder Gates to improve New York’s education system, which includes the largest public system in the country in New York City, with more than one million students.

While he did not provide specifics, Cuomo suggested a fundamental rethink of the classroom was on the table.

“The old model of everybody goes and sits in a classroom and the teacher is in front of that classroom, and teaches that class, and you do that all across the city, all across the state, all these buildings, all these physical classrooms – why with all the technology you have?” Cuomo asked.