The direction leaders in New York take regarding public education policy is something that concerns me greatly. Educating future citizens and giving them the tools they need to succeed is an obligation-not a “choice” to be provided to only those who can afford opportunity, or provided only by those who purchase favor through campaign contributions. The governor, while claiming to be a “lobbyist for the students”, has focused the bulk of his efforts on attacking schools and teachers while promoting the cause of a questionable charter “choice” approach-one sure to drive disparities in resources and opportunities (and one that appears driven by his campaign donors list). His criticisms are focused on the lump sum cost of educating a state full of children, but he willfully ignores the funding inequities undeniably correlated with opportunities, achievement and outcomes for students. The Governor’s agenda is not one to support. It is time for a new direction, and a new agenda. You should be helping to make this happen. Following are a list of things to do:
1) Ask the governor to release state aid numbers without conditions. Schools already have to cope with the impact of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, school tax caps, and the burdens of ever-increasing mandates. Funding numbers are essential in allowing schools to plan for the year to come.
2) End the Gap Elimination Adjustment. Combined with property tax caps, it has cost schools in staffing and opportunities provided for students.
3) Make school “choice” more about fully funding and allowing public schools choices to innovate, as opposed to creating more exclusive options that will further segregate students and opportunities, as well as redirect more public funds into private hands.
4) Drop the unreasonable push to weigh standardized state test scores as 50% of teacher effectiveness ratings, and the plan to withhold funding until schools and educators submit themselves to that insanity. The Governor may be upset that teachers haven’t given full-throated support to his plans, but he has failed to bring issues to the people most involved for an honest discussion.
5) Hold Governor Cuomo accountable for his campaign season admissions regarding the failures of common core standards/high-stakes testing implementation, and the importance of parents and kitchen tables. There are many, many students struggling with the former and without the latter. Further punishing a generation of learners and their communities, and disrespecting hundreds of thousands of educators is not a collaborative path forward.
I look forward to your cooperative efforts in empowering students, teachers, schools and communities.