SARATOGA COUNTY — Larry Sharpe, a Queens native, was thinking about moving to North Carolina due to his disappointment in the state of being New York is in. However, he decided to run for New York State Governor instead, believing that real change starts at home. A Libertarian and United States Marine, Sharpe has lived his whole life as a New Yorker.
“I am a kid born in Manhattan. I was adopted. My adoptive parents took me to the Bronx. My mother was a German immigrant, my father was in the Army, met her over there and got married, came over here. I was raised in the Bronx, around East Stadium, until I was 11. Then we moved out to Long Island, Suffolk County,” Sharpe explained.
After entering the United States Marine Corp at age 17, he barely graduated high school, only doing so because his recruiter had guaranteed him a job.
“That was a lie,” he laughed, “but that’s what he told me, and I went anyway.”
He attended college as a fulltime Marine, earning a 3.7 GPA majoring in Anthropology.
“Because then it mattered to me, I wanted to be a good student,” he said.
Sharpe graduated and went on to be a successful business owner. He is currently a consultant, trainer, and teacher that helps other businesses to grow. He has also taught at the graduate level at Yale and Columbia as a guest instructor and as a CAPS instructor for Baruch College.
“We have to change the education system fundamentally in New York State. It is broken, it is an embarrassment. It’s about $60 billion, only $22,000 per student and we’re having, at best, mediocre results,” Sharpe said passionately.
He is advocating for fundamental change by implementing the following: No more standardized testing until you’re in high school.
“Standardized testing is bad for several reasons: it gets teachers to teach to a test and not to an individual student; it is a way of people punishing teachers instead of rewarding them; it’s a way to fund schools, which is completely incorrect and wrong; and worse, it actually makes kids who are bad test takers feel stupid. Now they are labeled the dumb kid. That’s a bad thing,” Sharpe explained.
K-12 is anachronism that shouldn’t exist.
“We should be kindergarten through tenth. At tenth grade, take a test, whether you’re at private school, public school, homeschooled. We should be supporting homeschooling far more than we support it. It’s embarrassing how bad we are. If you have the time, the energy, and resources to teach your kid at home, please do so. I want to encourage you and lower your tax burden. I want to still allow you to have access to all of the things you’re paying taxes for already... You pass your test at tenth grade, you get a high school diploma from that district. You’re finished at that point,” he said.
He has a plan of “four choices” for what to do next: College, trade school, get a job, start a business. How does he plan to pay for this?
“Very simple actually. The New York State Constitution says we must pay for the last two years of school. Right now, we’re paying 22k a year per kid. Here’s what I’m going to do, when I was in the Marine Corp, when I got out, I got the GI Bill. You get ten years to use x amount of dollars, use it, go to college. Every kid at 16, gets the equivalent of the GI Bill. They get the Student Career Bill. Ten years, $20,000, do what you want. I promise you, prep schools are going to pop up all over the place, that are good at what they do because now the kids are choosing. Trade schools will pop up all over the place, too,” he stated.
Funding. Flat block grants per number of students.
“You have x number of students, multiply that by y, there’s your money from the state. I would like for the money to come only from the state, not from the counties. I prefer no school tax at all. You cut school tax, how much money are we saving? A lot,” Sharpe explained.
“Here’s what I know, freedom plus accountability plus transparency equals innovation. What’s going to work in Buffalo isn’t going to work in Rochester or Watertown, and I’m okay with that. I want happy kids. I want satisfied parents. we do that, we win,” he said simply.
Gubernatorial primaries will be held on September 13, 2018.
“Let teachers teach,” Sharpe said.