In his State of the State address last week, Governor Cuomo proposed a comprehensive agenda to build on the progress made over the past two years. Proposals specific to education, though, have received mixed reviews from local educators.
Governor Cuomo stated that his goal is to develop a world-class education system to prepare the next generation for the future. This will be done by:
- Providing students with more learning time
- Recruiting and retaining only the best and brightest educators
- Improving education and resources in the state’s neediest communities
One major issue is funding. While many educators support the idea of lengthening the school day or year, many question the Governor’s idea of competitive grants to fund it. The Associated Press reported that Governor said that he would pick up 25% of the cost to extend learning time; he also noted the expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten for the neediest communities. While this may help a portion of our students, educators question why we wouldn’t want to provide those educational opportunities for all of our students. In addition, educators question whether or not those competitive grants will last. Superintendent James Bodziak of the Frontier Central School District in Buffalo said "Is it going to be funded for years and years or is it just funded for the first couple of years and then, like many things, the money is pulled away, and now we're either going to have to sustain it by ourselves or we have to eliminate the program?”
Albion Superintendent Michael Bonnewell said that just applying for the competitive grants can be challenging. The application process requires that resources be used in other ways, without a guarantee of even winning the funding.
Governor Cuomo also suggested an entrance exam for teachers, similar to a bar exam for lawyers. In addition, he proposed paying “master teachers” a $15,000 bonus for four years to improve and train other teachers. While this idea has circulated in the media and social media over the past few weeks, it has received support. Webster Thomas High School teacher Greg Ahlquist, NYS teacher of the year, said, “The retention statistics of new teachers, even nationally, is almost startling, so the notion of investing in teacher preparation is very, very wise.”
In the Rochester area, some of these plans are already in place. For example, 13WHAM reports that the Rochester City School District has maintained a mentor program for the past 25 years, which compensates teachers for providing the extra time and support to their colleagues. The RCSD also has recently extended the school day for several schools.
Click here to find coverage of the address, along with videos and the Governor’s PowerPoint presentation.
Like this article? Get email alerts when new information is available. Just click the “subscribe” button above!