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Know Your Rights
Source: Newsday
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

State lawmakers: Cuomo education proposals, Dream Act appear to be dead

As the deadline for a new state budget neared, lawmakers said Monday that some of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s controversial education proposals appear all but dead.

They also said his push to dramatically change teacher evaluations could be tied to a huge $1.4 billion school aid hike.

Rank-and-file legislators said the governor’s proposals to increase the number of charter schools and make a property-tax cap permanent are “off the table.”

Similarly, they said an initiative to tie an education tax credit, favored by Republicans, to the so-called Dream Act, pushed by Democrats, appears dead due to stiff opposition.

Cuomo’s communications director appeared to acknowledge that when she said the tax credit and the Dream Act, which would allow children of immigrants living in the country illegally to receive state college aid, could be addressed in the second half of the 2015 legislative session.

After emerging from a closed-door conference, some Democrats said they weren’t happy about the demise of the Dream Act.

“We knew the Senate wanted it off the table all along,” said Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood).

Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa also said the Democrats’ plan to establish a commission on state legislators’ pay and the issue of mayoral control of New York City public schools could be dealt with later as well.

But Cuomo isn’t budging much on teacher evaluations, lawmakers said.

At their meeting Monday, Assembly Democrats said they were told that only minor tweaks were being considered to the governor’s proposal to tie 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to students’ scores on standardized tests. Under the current process, it’s 20 percent.

Cuomo also proposed changing from three years to five the amount of time a teacher must work before gaining tenure. Legislators said talks now are centered on a four-year period.

Also, Cuomo’s drive to make it easier for the state to take over underperforming schools is still very much alive, legislators said.

DeRosa, citing state takeovers, teacher evaluations and tenure, said: “If those reforms are passed, the governor will support a significant funding increase.”

Lawmakers are trying to pass a $142 billion budget by April 1, the beginning of New York’s fiscal year.After an Easter break in April, they return for the second half the legislative session, which runs until mid-June.

Make the Road New York, a group that advocates for immigrants, said it was “heartbroken” about the the Dream Act being dropped from negotiations.

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