Books? We don’t need no stinkin’ books

The State Education Department released guidelines yesterday for how districts can spend the money they will be getting from the Smart Schools bond. As WNYT Albany reported, most districts won’t be able to use the money this coming year, because the guidelines were issued after school budgets were due to the state.

Sadly, this isn’t really “news.” For the department that totally botched the implementation of Common Core, and repeatedly sent confusing and contradictory instructions for the first go-round of APPR, to be issuing guidelines after the budgets are due is just business as usual.

By the same token, it really shouldn’t be considered news that, as shown in the WNYT report, Governor Cuomo said something absolutely idiotic. At about the :45 mark in the video, there is a clip (probably from last year) of Cuomo pushing the bond, saying 

“…that we should be still buying billions of dollars of books to train students…. to educate students. Who buys books anymore? Everybody walks around here… buy a Kindle or whatever device.”

In fairness to Cuomo, in his world, books don’t exist for reading, they are just a tool for laundering bribe money. Also, how can anyone expect him to know how useful books are to schools, when as far as anyone can tell, he’s only visited one public school during his five years in office?

There is so much that is galling about this quote, it’s hard to know where to begin. Is it the Freudian slip about “training students?” Is it his ignorance of research showing that readers of e-books don’t absorb information as well as readers of printed books? Or is it his own obvious lack of knowledge about the very technology he is promoting, as evidenced by the clueless way he ends that sentence?

As infuriating as that all is, what it most appalling about all of this is that it serves as just one more reminder of how abhorrent it was for the legislature to abrogate their responsibility and cede control of education to a man who clearly is not qualified to even speak on the topic. 

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