Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Education Reform: What Next?

The last two weeks have been a very busy time for Education Reform from the signing by the President of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, to the recommendation released by Governor Cuomo's Common Core Task Force.

Our Executive Administrator, Rick Longhurst, and Education Coordinator, Cathy Romano, ask: Education Reform: What Next? in this editorial article below.

Education Reform:  What Now?

Last week, eight years after the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) expired, Every Student Succeeds Act, (ESSA) the single greatest change in National Education Policy in many years was signed into law.  A thousand pages of legislation boil down to two simple principles: student testing remains but states get to set standards and determine how they use those standards to evaluate schools and educators. 

Already, two camps are emerging. 
  • The first says, we have had enough of reform and testing.  We want to be done with Common Core and go back to the way things used to be.  
  • The second says, we should Pause, reflect on what works, change what does not; then move forward. NYS PTA falls into the latter.

What do parents and the education community really want for our students from the education system? It is not complicated. We ask:
  • What do we want our children to know and be able to do? How do we know when those       goals have been met?
  • What information do schools need to keep education reform moving in the right direction
  • What impact do educators make in our children’s learning and how do we know it?

What do we want our children to know and be able to do?- Standards, Curriculum and Instruction
Research demonstrates that where there are high expectations and support for those expectations by educators and parents, children achieve! NYS PTA has long supported the higher aspirations for all students expressed in the Common Core Standards, but understand that a short time frame, limited resources, and an overemphasis on immediate results have caused tremendous stress over the past five years. As with any change, adjustments are necessary to get us where we need to be. This takes time.

The NYS Education Department continues to seek feedback from communities and educators on standards and testing that will lead to necessary adjustments. We ask that they be allowed to do their job as professionals with minimal interference from our legislators in that process. 

Researchers also point out that 21st century success depends on ability to communicate, collaborate, think critically and create. While the global economy asks more of workers, recent events reinforce the idea that our everyday life is global. This fundamental shift requires new curriculum, challenging assessments and fundamental changes in instructional practice. The transition is complex and requires extensive professional development, integration across all subject areas, and the full engagement of families and communities. Schools must spend this time wisely to improve local practice and state resources must support each aspect of the transition.

How do we know when our children meet those goals? What information do school systems need to keep education reform moving in the right direction? - Assessments

Standardized testing continues under ESSA.  This is to ensure that we are not overlooking or under expecting performance of some students or communities. The NYS Education Department promises streamlined testing and adaptive assessments that today’s technology makes possible. We need an immediate and substantial investment to develop these assessment tools, improve instruction and promote learning, not punish educators or students.

Assessments serve two functions. They tell us what students have learned and help to identify opportunities to improve the learning process. We call upon those who will design or select tests to remember that we are working with children.
  • Tests must be shorter, 
  • Content must be interesting, and
  • Questions must reflect the both the substance and nature of instruction while being relevant to how and where students live.

Educators must be assured that scoring methods, cut scores and scales are reliable and provide an accurate view of student performance. We must also provide parents and communities with clear, trustworthy data on how individuals, groups of students, and schools compare across the state.

With student mobility, parents and families must have quality information to make the best possible choices for their children and communities. Families need comparative information on school performance when selecting where their child will learn. The education department and the legislators must support families and communities as full partners in this effort. 

Finally, assessment of student performance must be the springboard for school improvement. ESSA enables schools to use multiple measures of effectiveness, including attendance, graduation rates and school climate as part of a whole school review. Communities whose schools are underperforming need good comparative benchmarks when setting goals for improvement. NYS PTA encourages all to participate in the assessment process and improvement directed discussions as the system changes.

How do we know that Educators make a difference? - Educator Impact - 
When asked about schooling, everyone can point to an educator who made the difference, positively or negatively. But defining what makes a great educator remains a challenge. We risk devaluing the importance of good teachers and instructional practice, thereby risking an entire profession if we avoid examining APPR.  In 2011, the Board of Regents, with parent and educator input, adopted teaching standards. Great teachers must:
  • know their students,
  • know their subject matter,
  • successfully employ research-based instructional practices,
  • establish a classroom climate that is conducive to effective learning,
  • select meaningful assessments and use results to improve the learning experience,
  • collaborate with families, communities and each other, and
  • take responsibility for professional improvement. 
It is critical that we move educator evaluation away from an imbalanced matrix focused on single test scores to assessing educators on a broad spectrum of quality standards. We can only make progress when we use the full potential of the teacher evaluation process as an opportunity to improve practice.

We ask legislators to empower school boards, educators and parents to redesign an APPR evaluation system that is accurate, fair, and transparent, resulting in improved  instructional practice and information  that provides families and communities with the confidence that they are  placing children in the care of quality educators.

The Every Student Succeeds Act gives New York a real opportunity to move forward on our own terms.  Let us not waste it. It is essential that we use this opportunity not to retreat from reform but to reflect on what is required to move it forward. 

NYS PTA asks Governor Cuomo, the legislature, the Regents and SED not to simply implement a pause in linking student performance to grading educators, but to make a joint and determined effort to use that time to collaboratively build a future that will prepare every child for the success we aspire for all children regardless of zip code or income.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pressing Pause at the Annual Convention

The 119th Annual NYS PTA Convention held November 13-15 in Niagara Falls was a great success! 

We covered critical topics and offered:
  • opportunities to work on leadership skills;
  • engagement with a wide range of exhibitors; 
  • highlights of the great creativity of our students in the Reflections Gallery;
  • presentation and approval of updates to our bylaws; 
  • participation in the parliamentary challenges and debate with the resolutions process; and 
  • keynote speeches by: MaryEllen Elia, NYS Commissioner of Education; Ashli Skura Dreher, 2014 New York State Teacher of the Year; and Kent Knappenberger, Music Teacher and Inaugural Grammy Award Winning Teacher. They were very inspirational and full of Information to be brought home to our local members!

We also had some firsts:
  • Streaming our General Sessions Online - For those members unable to join us in Niagara Falls we offered our General Sessions video streamed online. Those videos are now available on our NYS PTA YouTube channel or directly from our website by clicking here.
  • Approved a new resolution on Bio-Solid Waste - To see that and other resolutions discussed at our convention, click here.
  • Installed new and returning officers: Vice President Jane Harsha, Vice President Judy Van Haaren, Secretary Helen Hoffman and Treasurer, Neil Johanning
  • Introduced of new Awards - The first NYS PTA Family Engagement Award in Honor of Jami-Beth Knapp was presented to NYS Board of Regents Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett; and the Empire State PTSA presented the first Muriel Berk Service Award to past NYS PTA President Alice Willett. (To see the presentations, please check out the YouTube videos of the Banquet by clicking here.
  • Introduced the Premiere Letter of Interest along with an introductory video for members interested in being involved with the NYS PTA Board. (Be on the lookout for more information about this new program.)
  • Announced the "Press the Pause" Twitter Campaign Vice President Jane Harsha led delegates in an Advocacy message from our seats to kick off  our "Pressing the Pause" Campaign. Delegates tweeted: "#NYSPTA calls for immediate pause in the link of APPR & test scores thru 2016-17. Get the reform right first! @NYSenate @NYSA_Majority."  Update: This past weekend the press is reporting that the governor may be moving toward reducing the role of test scores in teacher assessments. He is awaiting the Common Core Task Force report this month and is expected to announce changes in his State of the State address in early January. Time will tell....(look for further details in a future post!)
As we enter into the holiday season, I hope you spend time with and enjoy your families!

Thank you for all that you do for children....


Bonnie M. Russell

NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Busy Few Months in Education

I hope you have had a great start to the new school year these past few months! It is such a busy time in education and especially in our schools.

NYS PTA has also been busy advocating for children throughout the state during this very tumultuous time in education that started a few years ago, and it just seems to continue to evolve and change at a very quick pace.

Our Executive Administrator, Rick Longhurst, has worked collaboratively with our Education Coordinator, Catherine Romano, to respond to the many changes affecting the education of the children in our state based on feedback we are receiving from our members. 

These very informational documents are available from our Hot Topics in Education webpage by clicking here.

  • Information from Hot Topics Workshop at SLC  - At the Summer Leadership Conference, Rick Longhurst and Catherine Romano held a workshop session entitled “Hot Topics In Education.“ (This workshop is being be offered again at our upcoming annual convention being held in Niagara Falls November 13-15.)
    • The following are questions that workshop attendees posted (in black) and answers provided to the best of our ability (in blue). Please note that when discussing school process, we provide a general understanding. For what actually occurs in your school or district, please speak to teachers, principals, district office leaders and superintendents. Click here to read the document.
  • Response to the Governor's Commission - The following is a response by the NYS Congress of Parents and Teachers (NYS PTA) to the six points described by Governor Cuomo in outlining the Commission’s charge. Click here to read the letter. 
    • Excerpt from letter -  "We had hoped and even expected that we would be asked to participate as commission members and were disappointed when our direct voice was not considered.  We have played key roles in bringing diverse parent groups together in the past. Most recently, this past May, we brought groups as diverse as Students First New York, the NYS Alliance for Public Education and the Alliance for Quality Education together with NYS PTA representatives to offer common goals and views on sometimes diverse solutions to the NYS Board of Regents. Nevertheless, we conclude that we have an obligation to contribute our views and offer initial thoughts in response to each of the Governor’s points."
  • NYS PTA Responses to Questions Posed to NYSSBA Panel - NYS PTA responsed to questions posed to a NYSSBA Panel by Timothy Kremer, Executive Director of NYS School Boards Association, on October 19, 2015. Click here to read NYS PTA responses presented by Executive Administrator Rick Longhurst.
    • Excerpt from the responses - "Schools aren’t factories. We’re in the people business, not the widget business. Successful schools are built on common focus and collaboration. Successful collaborations are built on productive relationships and productive relationships are based on mutual trust."

A Few Notes.....
  • The Parent Teacher Magazine is now available electronically and is not only available from the website but is also now being sent directly to members as you requested when we surveyed you last spring. 
  • The 119th Annual Convention will be here before you know it. It will be in Niagara Falls from November 13-15. This year we will be offering live streaming capability from our website to our General Sessions 1-3. So if you are unable to be there with us, you will be able to view the proceedings from our website. We will be sending out more information about this in the upcoming weeks....
Thank you for all that you do for children....


Bonnie M. Russell

NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Assessments are Much More Than a Test

Summer is a time to prepare for the upcoming school year, and for our NYS PTA Board of Directors (Board) that includes reviewing resolutions for our upcoming Convention in November, and reviewing and updating position papers.

At our Board meeting held last month, we approved the following position papers that were presented to us by our Resolutions Committee/Advocacy Team taking into account feedback from our members.

The paper on Assessment, Testing and Learning was timely with the release of the Grade 3-8 ELA and Math Assessments last week. Keep in mind that our position is on overall assessments (those used in the classroom), NOT just NYS Assessments.
Assessment is an essential aspect of the learning process since it provides feedback intended to show the level at which instruction should begin, the effectiveness of ongoing learning strategies, and the level of proficiency attained as a result of the instructional process. It is intended to benefit the student, to inform teachers who guide each student’s progress, and to assist parents in understanding how to support their child’s learning. 
There are many types of assessment, with what we know as tests representing only a subset of the numerous assessment tools available. (Please reference the position paper from the link above for specifics.)
Here is a preview of some of the talking points:
All Educators must
  • establish balanced use of assessments to inform instruction without over testing or overemphasizing test performance
  • create and use high quality assessments to measure what is important in a meaningful manner that meets the standards with validity, reliability, fairness, and developmental appropriateness - especially for students with disabilities or new English learners
  • maintain a positive environment for students during assessment/test administration 
  • minimize the use of testing and test preparation so to maximize the learning environment and support whole child learning 
  • avoid the use of a single test or single assessment measure for the placement, promotion, or retention of a student, or within high stakes decisions affecting students 
  • establish developmentally appropriate seat time when assessing students
  • use assessment as part of a holistic improvement of learning and strategic planning for the individual student, groups of students and school systems, rather than using assessment results for punishment or competition
  • never use standardized multiple-choice tests and school readiness tests with preschool and early elementary children for any purpose 
We ask that you also review our position papers on Educating the Whole Child and Juvenile Justice in New York State. They are very important and are representative of our balance as an association to address all aspects of a child at school, at home and within the community.

A big thank you to the Resolutions Committee/Advocacy Team who worked diligently and passionately on these position papers.


Bonnie M. Russell
NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Friday, August 7, 2015

NYS PTA Online Membership System

From time to time members of the NYS PTA Governance Team will be invited to be guest bloggers. This post is being provided to you by our NYS PTA Membership Coordinator, Sean Hannam. 

(Please be on the look out over the next few weeks for upcoming posts about the membership survey results and a separate post about the recently approved NYS PTA position papers.)

NYS PTA Online Membership System 
by Sean Hannam, 
NYS PTA Membership Coordinator 

We are excited to announce that Phase One of our new Online Membership System is nearly complete! It had it's coming out party at our recent Summer Leadership Conference and was greeted with much excitement and anticipation.

Guided by the feedback we have received from our members, this online system aims to:
  • help us to become more economical, ecological, technological and timely; 
  • provide units an easy, convenient and accurate way to maintain a roster of their members; and
  • provide units a single source to send information to their members via email and/or text.
We also expect that our Online Membership System will provide units the chance to:
  • gain and maintain members from areas that were previously under-represented, including out of town family and friends, local businesses and others in the community who may wish to become members, even though they may not necessarily be active members of the school community; and
  • send links to these prospective members allowing them the opportunity to show their support by becoming a member (and paying their dues) online without the need to attend a meeting or event in person.
Phase One of the Online Membership System will be available to units on or before September 1 – just in time to start off the 2015-2016 school yearTraining was provided to members during our annual Summer Leadership Conference, but for those who couldn’t attend, we also have training materials online at our website on our membership web page:
Support from the Region and State Membership teams will be available for any questions you may have that are not addressed in the resources provided on the website.

We understand that the move from traditional paper cards and membership lists is a radical change, but we are guided by the knowledge that it will help drive our association forward and reach even more members. This shift to online membership is putting us on the right path to help NYS PTA better serve our members and reach our goal of serving every child with one voice.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Surveying the Field

Where has the month of May gone? It started out as a whirlwind of activity with summarizing a survey we sent out to collect the opinions on the assessment process. We then used that information as a basis for commentary at the Learning Summit held by the State Education Department. As the month progressed, we continued to reach out to members with a field survey asking for your opinions on our current services, your needs, and your expectations from us as an association. Below is a brief update on each of the subjects to keep you in the loop.

Feedback from Survey on Assessments 
At the conclusion of the April 2015 NYS Testing Program, NYS PTA distributed a brief survey to approximately 27,000 members. The survey was not a scientific sampling of membership but was intended as informal background to assist us in preparing comments offered to NYS Board of Regents members at a Learning Summit held on May 7, 2015. As of May 13, 2015, 3,051 responses had been received. The results are presented as an attachment in three ways:
  1. Overall results
  2. A cross tabulation that compares demographic information in question #1 with responses to other questions
  3. A cross tabulation that compares test participation reported in question #3 with opinions on the NYS testing program reported in question #4
Click here for a pdf of the results. 

Learning Summit on Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) 
On May 7, NYS PTA had the opportunity to coordinate the viewpoints from multiple parent groups throughout the state at the New York State Education Department Learning Summit on APPR. For those of you that did not have the opportunity to view this on the simulcast, you can access information about the event at, which includes the agenda, bios and submitted materials. 
We had quite a bit of Twitter activity about our panel, and some  press coverage from the Albany Times Union at, You can see the tweets in a Storify format along with links to the testimony by clicking here.

Coordinating the many diverse parent groups with each having their opportunity to share their own opinions and suggestions proved to be an enriching experience. We look forward to continuing to converse with these groups into the future.

Your Voice Counts - Survey to the Grassroots 
Over the past several months, NYS PTA has been working on gathering information from a variety of interested individuals. Several focus group sessions have been held with different groups of individuals. Most recently, we initiated a survey that went out to all of the email contacts in our database and was also posted to our Facebook page over this past weekend. 

This survey did not go to our Governance Team as we are looking for feedback from our grassroots. The survey did close on May 23. We plan to share those results and more importantly plan our actions based on the results. Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate.


Bonnie M. Russell
NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Monday, April 20, 2015

We All Want to do What is Right for Our Children

As we enter into another week of NYS Assessments, NYS PTA acknowledges the significant increase in refusals that occurred this past week with the ELA Assessments as many parents chose to have their students not participate. It is anticipated that this trend will continue with the math assessments this week as parents express their right to decide what is in the best interest of their child.

We all want to do what is right for our children, their teachers and their schools. However, that means different things to different people. Every student and family is unique. As families make these decisions, we urge everyone to respect all parents and students whether they choose to take or refuse the test. Everyone should be treated equally in a respectful manner no matter what that decision is. 

In the next few weeks NYS PTA will be publishing a statement about “What’s next for education in New York?”  It will discuss what direction we will urge the decision makers to take around many hot topics affecting the ability of all children in New York to receive an equitable and excellent education. 


Bonnie M. Russell
NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Friday, April 3, 2015


Surprisingly, Tuesday's state budget adoption linked the distribution of increased school aid to another revision of Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) elements. Assessments are one of two elements to be weighted in the APPR that must be approved by November 15. 

With this news, the movement to promote test refusal*, as a means to make a political statement, has increased around our state. 

We have heard from many members; some urging NYS PTA to endorse test refusal, but most appreciating our position to support every parent's right to make the choice for their own child. 

As the, “New York State PTA Position Paper: Use of Student Assessment & Its Impact on High‐Stakes Educational Decisions” states:

High‐stakes testing associated with political initiatives has changed the landscape of education in New York State and across our country. The effects of some of these changes may be unintended, but when devoid of a sound educational rationale, they can actually interfere with educational improvement.

We also support the need for meaningful pupil assessment and educator accountability. Current trends unfortunately exaggerate the use of narrowly defined results to judge educational performance and make high‐stakes educational decisions. These trends cannot be permitted to stifle student and educator creativity or to impede the imperative to educate the whole child.

The latest action by our state leaders, combined with member feedback on both sides of the issue, creates an urgency to reiterate that NYS PTA strongly supports the right of every parent to decide what is best for their child whether to take or refuse the test.

We strongly recommend that parents whose children will not participate in annual testing work collaboratively with their school district’s administration on a plan for the child that is agreeable to both parties.

Finally we ask that, no matter how you choose, everyone be respectful of another parents’ right to make either a similar or different choice for their child. 

*Please note, we do not refer to this as “opt-out” as that is not an option in our state. One can "refuse the test" or "not participate" thereby causing the test to be coded 999.


Bonnie M. Russell
NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Sad Day for Education in NYS

Today is a sad day for the students and teachers of New York. 

The Governor, claiming to be the best advocate for children, has tied inadequate school funding to questionable education reform based on volatile state tests and tied to ethics reform. 

Both the Assembly and Senate, who promised $1.8 to $1.9 billion of increased aid, sold out promised relief in order to ease ethics reform. They fundamentally short-changed the children they claim they care about. 

Huge stacks of printed bill materials shared only hours before the votes last night left little time for thoughtful consideration and stakeholder input. Major educational reforms were ill-considered in the haste to meet a vote deadline.

While NYS PTA appreciates the decision to assign the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) revision to NYSED and the Board of Regents, as we advocated for, we believe the parameters and time frame for consideration are completely inadequate for all stakeholders to provide input and thoughtful feedback. Specifically: 
  •     Parent input was erased from APPR
  •     Questions remain on testing and proportions of standardized testing in APPR 
  •     What formulates student growth is not clear
  •     What elements are part of a new matrix needs to be defined 
  •     How schools will manage the use and costs of outside evaluators is unknown 

Once again, tying release of aid to approval of negotiated APPR elements by November 15, DURING the school year, is indefensible.

The lack of reliability of the current NYS standardized tests along with these hastily adopted education reforms will fuel the already increasing opposition to participation in testing scheduled for this April. 

The unfortunate message to the children of New York: your education and future are not worth the time and collaborative decision-making of Albany legislators.

With this latest state action it is even more urgent that we reinforce the right of every parent to decide what is best for their child, whether to take or refuse the test!


Bonnie M. Russell
NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Busy Time in Education

Since my last message, we have been extremely busy. As mentioned in my last posting, the governor threw us a curve ball this year by tying the budget to education reform. In response to the governor’s proposal which included keeping the state aid runs hostage, NYS PTA responded on our own and in some situations in partnership with the Educational Conference Board with the following:

  • Published an Article from President in Fast Facts about Testing Stand. Click here to read. (Please note that it was brought to our attention that some documents housed on our website with old information concerning our stand were being accessed from the search function even though they were not actively linked to our pages. Those have been remove and replaced with the updated information.)
  • Published and shared our Issues Briefs and Talking Points on: Funding our Schools and Assessing Teacher and Student Performance.
  • Released Educational Conference Board (ECB) position statements on School Funding, Career and Technical Education and multiple Pathways to Graduation, Property Tax Caps, Immigration and English Language Learners (ELL) and Challenges Associated with an Unplanned and Unanticipated Influx of Unaccompanied Minors.
  • Sent ECB letters to Governor Cuomo requesting that Executive Budget State Aid detail be released. Click here for first letter. Click here to read the follow-up letter.
  • Gave Testimony to the NYS Joint Legislative Committees as presented by our Executive Administrator Rick Longhurst in reaction to the Governor’s Executive proposals and reform agenda. Click here to read.
  • Published a Legislation Summary document. Click here to read.
  • Sent a Letter to Governor Cuomo concerning his statement on failing teachers. Click here to read.

Legislation/Education Conference and Lobby Days: We also joined with our members from NYS PTA at our Legislation/Education Conference in Albany where we continued the conversation on the above topics and heard from specialists in the field who are dealing with these issues on a day-to-day basis.

The day after, we brought 26 advocates to meet with our state senate and congressional staffs to share our opinions and ask for their support with the above issues. Our member advocates throughout the state joined our ranks to share their views on virtual lobby day where over 5,000 letters were sent to our legislators about assessing teacher and student performance and funding our schools.

Advocating for Family Engagement in Education Act in Washington: We then took our advocates to Washington, DC where we were honored to receive a co-sponsorship from Senator Chuck Schumer for the Family Engagement in Education Act. Our hope is to continue to receive this support from the rest of the federal legislators representing New York. Those we met with were very open to supporting this important legislation.

Thank you for continuing to Communicate to Advocate with us for the children of NYS!


NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Governor’s State of the State Address/Budget Proposal

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo gave his State of the State Address in combination with his Budget Proposal. It is important to note that while the Governor offered broad budget statements, he will not release details of school aid proposals until the legislature acts on a broad range of proposed education reforms. We are extremely concerned about this and are working on a detailed response that we plan to release in the next several days. 

Here is a summary of some key points associated with the Governor’s education reform proposals:

·         Teacher Evaluation System (APPR)
o   The Governor believes the current system cannot be correct if 39.1% of high school students are college ready, but 98.7% of high school teachers are rated effective or better. He recommends that 50% of APPR be based on State tests, 15% based on observation by a local principal or administrator and 35% be based on observation by an outside observer appointed by the State Education Department.
o   NYS PTA reflected in our recent letter to the governor’s office that less emphasis should be placed on tests with more on observations. We have concerns with the heavy emphasis on testing and the way the Governor proposes to structure observations.

·         Teacher Tenure
o   The Governor proposes that tenure be granted after 5 continuous years of effective ratings. He states that non-tenured teachers should be subject to dismissal at any time for any reason.
o   NYS PTA has questioned whether five years is needed to assess effectiveness.

·         Removal of Ineffective Teachers
o   The Governor would make it easier to remove a teacher after two ineffective ratings, unless the rating is shown to be fraudulent.
o   NYS PTA reflected in our recent letter to the governor’s office to put an emphasis on quality of information presented at hearings and the time necessary to select hearing officers in the process.

·         Charter Schools
o   The Governor would like to see the current cap raised from 460 to 560 which would be across the state, not with an update/downstate split in the cap. There would be an emphasis on “anti-creaming” to make sure that the same cross section of students accepted into the public school system would also be allowed into the charter school system.
o   NYS PTA has been supportive of the charter school concept with the proviso that charter school funding not detract from the State’s obligation to fund public schools and that charters be accountable to local school boards. Funding as proposed would divert support from funding traditional public schools.

·         Struggling/Failing Schools
o   The Governor shared that 178 schools are currently failing in NYS and 77 have been failing for a decade. He proposes using a recommendation from SED to use the Massachusetts model in our state. If a school fails for 3 years, a non-for-profit can takeover, usually in a community school format.
o   NYS PTA has promoted standards for meaningful two-way family and community engagement in the education process in the form of recommendations to the Board of Regents, legislators, community organizations and other child advocates. The family and community engagement process using SED’s Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE) shows promise and should be considered as a basis for building a final action prior to considering a school closing. Closing schools is a drastic step. 

·         Mayoral Control              
o   The Governor sees the NYC model as working and could see it used in other cities.
o   NYS PTA pointed out in our response to the governor - How does mayoral control differ from the fiscal dependence of our five largest school districts on their city governments? Aren’t these schools already subject to substantial mayoral control?

·        Funding and Budget Issue Connect to Education Reforms
   When announcing the amount of money to be budgeted for education, it was proposed as two options.
o   Option 1 – The legislature adopts all of the proposed reforms – 4.8% increase of $1.06B
o   Option 2 – The legislature does not adopt all of the proposed reforms - 1.7% increase of $377M

NYS PTA is concerned that a budget without detail puts school districts and children in a very tenuous planning position that will detract from learning rather than enhance it.

Please keep in mind that the Educational Conference Board (ECB) recommended $1.9B and NYSED recommended $2.0B. Even if the reforms were adopted, it still is not close to what is needed to ensure an equitable education for all children.

·        Investment Tax Credit/Dream Act 
o   The Governor is proposing a tax credit at an annual cost of $100 million, that we do not support. Further, the Governor would link support of a “dream act” which we do support to the adoption of tax credits. We will be sharing more information about this in a separate publication.

·        Age of Criminality
o   One positive item to come out of the address was his support of Raising the Age of Criminality to 18 from the current age of 16, which is in sync with current positions taken by National PTA, and which NYS PTA is working on educating and advocating for.

Overall, I wish we could say this was a surprise. The fact that the budget recommendation is tied to the governor’s education reform proposals is extremely disappointing. We definitely have our work cut out for us in the coming year.  


NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate