Why we need School Aid runs

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 at 12:09 pm by

Yesterday, the Educational Conference Board released a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo calling for him to release district-by-district aid estimates for the $1.1 billion School Aid increase contained in his proposed state budget.

The release has received wide media attention (see here, here, here, and here) and at least one editorial endorsement.

I have been impressed by the level of frustration expressed by school district leaders over the absence of aid estimates and have assured Capitol staff it is spontaneous, not orchestrated.

For the first time in memory, a Governor has not included specific School Aid recommendations as part of the Executive Budget. This tactic undermines both local school budget planning as well as consideration of overall aid needs.

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Category: Finance, Legislation, State Budget | 1 Comment »

More questions than answers

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 at 5:59 pm by

Listening to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address and budget presentation yesterday, other Council staff members and I felt encouraged.  Perhaps the reaction was a reflection of our expectations.   But we felt he had presented ideas we could work with, if not necessarily endorse outright.

Then we read the details and were left with more questions than answers. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, Legislation, Teachers | No Comments »

A teacher evaluation success story

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 at 12:30 pm by

Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to seek reforms to the state’s teacher and principal evaluation law and will reveal at least some of his plans tomorrow, when he delivers his State of the State address and unveils his proposed state budget.

The system is widely controversial, provoking criticism from virtually all sides:  from teachers for relying on questionable student test-based measures, from administrators for being more burdensome than beneficial, and from the Governor and others for producing what they deem implausible results.

The Governor vetoed a bill he had proposed, saying, “…the  2013-14 teacher evaluation results recently released by the State Education Department are not an accurate assessment — only 0.7% of teachers were  rated  ‘Ineffective’  under  the APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review], and so the legislation is unnecessary.”

But there is one aspect of the system that has won praise from superintendents and other educators as having a positive impact on efforts to improve teaching and learning.

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Category: Legislation, Teachers | No Comments »

Dueling ads

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 at 8:00 am by

Both New York State United Teachers and a pro-current reform agenda group launched television ads last week.

NYSUT’s cites a recent New York Times editorial which called upon Governor Andrew Cuomo to “…move beyond peripheral issues and political score settling…” and address “the central crisis in New York education,” adding “…that means confronting and proposing remedies for the racial and economic segregation that has gripped the state’s schools, as well as the inequality in school funding that prevents many poor districts from lifting their children up to state standards.”

The ad by Students First NY combines video excerpts from Governor Cuomo’s first state of the State address (in 2011) and super-imposed text.  It concludes “Our schools are not good enough. The status quo isn’t working. Governor Cuomo is right. It’s not just about money, it’s about fundamental reform. When? Now.”

Both ads are said to cost in “the high six figures” to run.

Both are brief, in the 30 second range.

Watch them here (NYSUT) and here (Students First)


Category: Legislation, Politics, State Budget | No Comments »

Voting by not voting (analyzing school budget votes)

Monday, May 26th, 2014 at 1:25 pm by

Tuesday’s statewide school budget votes produced record highs for pass rate (98.2 percent), yes vote percentage (70.5 percent) and record low turnout for both yes and no votes. (The State Education Department has compiled vote counts since 2003).

When reporters and others question me about low turnout in school budget votes (sometimes citing it to challenge the significance of high passage rates), I make two points.

First, in school budget votes, some people vote by not voting.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 1:59 pm by

A message sent to all  State Legislators: Read the rest of this entry »

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Pivotal day in state education policy debates

Monday, February 10th, 2014 at 6:28 am by

Today is a big day for state education policy.  As the Buffalo News explained in a Saturday article,

Educators and lawmakers will be closely watching the Board of Regents when it meets Monday to see if the state’s top education officials will bend to pressure from lawmakers and educators who have complained about the way the state has rolled out the new learning standards. The Regents are expected to put forth a plan in response to a litany of complaints raised by teachers and parents at a series of public forums late last year.

I’m quoted as observing,

I imagine the legislators would hope that the Regents would put forth some ideas that would take down the temperature, satisfy parents and people working in the schools.  I think the stakes are high for the Education Department in that sense. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Legislation, Standards & Assessments, Teachers, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Finance matters

Friday, January 17th, 2014 at 9:46 pm by

School finance seemed to dominate the news in Albany for most of this past week… Read the rest of this entry »

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Message to the Regents: Listen to the field

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 at 12:38 pm by

Today we have a guest post on our blog, written by Neil O’Brien, president-elect of the Council and superintendent of the Port Byron School District in Cayuga County, west of Syracuse.  It appeared first as a message for residents and employees of his district. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect formal positions of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Standards & Assessments, Teachers | No Comments »

Home Room — January 8, 2014

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at 8:06 am by

In this post:  the State of the State, Common Core, tax freezes, consolidation… Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, Legislation, Standards & Assessments | No Comments »