Andrew Cuomo Rebukes Teachers Unions: 'Don't Say You Represent the Students'

Democrats everywhere have had enough of teachers unions


Andrew Cuomo
Diana Robinson

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had some harsh words for teachers unions in a recent interview with the New York Daily News:

"If (the public) understood what was happening with education to their children, there would be an outrage in this city," Cuomo said. "I'm telling you, they would take City Hall down brick by brick.

"It's only because it's complicated that people don't get it."

Cuomo referred to the teacher unions and the entrenched education establishment as an "industry" that is more interested in protecting the rights of its members than improving the system for the kids it is supposed to be serving.

"Somewhere along the way, I believe we flipped the purpose of this," Cuomo said. "This was never a teacher employment program and this was never an industry to hire superintendents and teachers.

"This was a program to educate kids." …

He said he openly disagreed with a teacher union member who said he represents the students.

"No, you don't," Cuomo said he told the person. "You represent the teachers. Teacher salaries, teacher pensions, teacher tenure, teacher vacation rights. I respect that. But don't say you represent the students."

The fact that this fiery anti-union tirade passed the lips of a blue state Democrat tells you everything you need to know about just how thoroughly teaches union have alienated many of their natural political allies. And this isn't merely some quirk of New York politics, as the same thing has happened on a local scale in numerous cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Democratic politicians everywhere are more willing to take on teachers unions than ever before.

I suspect that's because they recognize the long-term unsustainability of this alliance. Teachers unions have continued to extort delusional concessions from lawmakers and taxpayers, even as their leaders' antics grow more distracting and hateful. Their demands are so unreasonable, so out of step with the very moderate package of school reforms that a growing consensus of politicians on the left and right now support, even people like Cuomo and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg—who are not exactly friends of libertarianism—can't help but object to the shrill divisiveness of Michael Mulgrew, Karen Lewis, Steven Cook, etc.

Today is the first day of National School Choice Week. Check back at Reason for more on free-market solutions to the public education crisis.