Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

Education

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York Dies at 82

By Lauren Camera — January 02, 2015 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Lauren Camera and Andrew Ujifusa

As long-time governor of New York state, Mario Cuomo, who died Jan. 1 at the age of 82, made high-profile attempts to investigate and overhaul public schools in New York City and statewide, and he also approved a new scholarship program to make it easier for low- and middle-income students to attend college.

A Democrat who often challenged the conservative vision of government championed by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, Cuomo served three terms as governor from 1983 to 1994.

Cuomo, the father of current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, led the state through a difficult period of time marked by immense debt and a struggling education system.

While he sought to increase state aid for the state’s education system during his early years as governor and to shift state dollars from relatively wealthy to poor districts, a $6 billion budget shortfall led Cuomo to slash education spending in the early 1990s, including an $891-million school-aid reduction in 1991-1992.

During his time as governor, Cuomo attempted to reshape the state’s education system’s governing structure and its budget.

He pushed to restructure the governance of the New York City’s school system, specifically to overhaul how the board of education is comprised. At the time, two board members were appointed by the mayor, and each of the city’s five borough presidents picked one member—a system adopted when the city schools were decentralized in 1969.

Critics of that system, including Cuomo, charged that the system split responsibility for the school district among too many people to make any of them truly accountable for its widely acknowledged failings.

Later, in his 1994 budget proposal, Cuomo tried—but ultimately failed—to convince the state legislature to pass a new school-finance system that would consolidate 15 state-aid formulas and begin basing payments to local districts more on local income levels than on property wealth.

Cuomo was a vocal opponent of President Ronal Reagan’s tax-reform package, which, among other things, would have eliminated the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes. He argued that the plans would seriously harm the middle class and undermine state efforts to provide crucial services, such as education.

Known for his oratorical skills, one of Cuomo’s most famous speeches attacked President Reagan’s oft-cited description of America as a “shining city on a hill.” Cuomo instead argued instead that the country was made up of the haves and have-nots.

That philosophy guided many of his decisions as governor, including his 1988 State of the State address, in which he called on lawmakers “to make the next 10 years the Decade of the Child.” It was in that speech that he first proposed creating “liberty” scholarships, a landmark legislation to help low- and middle-income students go to college that he signed into law later that year.

In the summer of 1993, in one of his last moves as governor, he appointed a commission with subpoena powers to investigate how education money was being spent in the state. At the time, Cuomo said that although New York’s state and local funding for elementary and secondary education had increased 92 percent over the past 10 years, it “clearly has not resulted in a sufficient improvement in the quality of education provided to our children.’'

Photo: Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, second from left, celebrates with his father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, and his mother, Matilda, left, after defeating Republican challenger Rob Astorino on Nov. 4, 2014, in New York. Andrew Cuomo was the first New York Democratic governor since his father to win re-election. Mario Cuomo died Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, the day his son Andrew started his second term as governor. He was 82. Kathy Willens/AP-File

Related Tags:

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. f we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP