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