Funding and political opposition to any upgrade in test results have always been in the way of fixing our educational system in New York. So long as we underfund our public schools, we can assure that the resulting graduates, if they even graduate, will be ready to perpetuate the service industry limitations that big business conservatives advocate. How else do you explain away the constant denial of school funding across the country?
Governor Cuomo's Education Reform Commission has come out with a report that just may help. That is, unless political foes resume their tired old stance that we shouldnt fund our struggling school systems.
Not all of the ideas are necessarily perfect or desirable, but it's such a better starting point when addressing the very issue that keeps this country's education levels below most developed countries annually.
Longer teaching days and a longer schooling year is something we can all agree on. Just keeping students occupied during the idle afternoon hours that parents are usually still at work will certainly change the mischief factor at home.
Teacher competency exams makes perfect sense as well. Even the teacher's union endorses this one. If you have no ability to convey standard concepts and encourage individual growth within your students, you have no business being a teacher.
In addition, I love the idea of School District consolidations. Administration costs at the top of every district adds a tremendous drain on the limited funding we have. Imagine cutting out most of the administration at the top and merging this group (large enough to occupy a small village) into one administration to handle a county wide school district?
Picture it: Ulster County Central School System
The school buildings we are closing down today could be developed into senior housing. Actually whatever the private sector wishes to do with them so long as we sell off the property and get that property beck on the tax rolls.
The Commission's Chairman, Richard Parsons, wrote to Cuomo in the introduction of the report that “The problem New York confronts,
we concluded, is how to replicate these examples of excellence in every
school district in New York; how do we create a statewide system of
public education that ensures that every child will have the opportunity
to get an education that will enable them to achieve their true
Although I'm not so sure limiting our teacher hirings to high end scholars would be the best idea. There are terrific teachers out there who are fairly educated in their field who more than match education skills through the pure passion of teaching. You may lose that if you restrict hirings to just the elite professors out there.
In closing; Governor Cuomo is expected to elaborate where he wants our school system to address these issues in his State of the State. If there is enough political will and we find the funding through consolidation and property sales, we may actually see some movement on an issue that has plagued New York State for decades.