Niagara Gazette

Communities

January 2, 2013

Local school officials sound off on Cuomo's reform report

Niagara Gazette — Could changes be coming to New York state’s public education system?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Education Reform Commission released a 92-page report Wednesday, highlighting eight changes the state could investigate to change the way education is provided state-wide.

The report, which Cuomo said will be used to inform his State of the State address scheduled for Jan. 9, calls for the expansion of pre-kindergarten, especially for high-needs students; improving technology; streamlining district consolidation efforts; increasing accountability and transparency; preparing teachers and rewarding superior performance and increase college and career readiness training.

“I think the management of the system can be improved. I don’t think we’re getting our money’s worth from the current system,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “I don’t think we measure it. I don’t think we’ve held people accountable.”

Wednesday’s proposal also included increasing both the length of the school day and year for more teacher-student classroom time and a call for districts to focus on turning their buildings into “community schools,” with a focus on providing students with more than just typical education.

But locally, administrators and teachers are unsure what changes could make education more effective.

Falls Superintendent Cynthia Bianco said she briefly reviewed the recommendations Wednesday afternoon and found very few new ideas the small city district hasn’t already either implemented or tried previously.

“It’s nice to see a report from a commission detailing things we already do,” she said. “I’m not being glib, we do a lot of this already. The issue we have is the inequity of state funding to poor districts. When we can’t go to our tax base to fund a program we want, yet a district on Long Island receives state aid when they can afford to raise taxes to offer Chinese, it just isn’t fair.

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