Archive for the 'Legislation' Category

Fix the Tax Cap

March 10th, 2019 by Robert Lowry

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been saying that he will not approve a 2019-20 budget for the state unless the property tax cap is made permanent. He reiterated that message this past week in columns in Long Island’s Newsday, the Lower Hudson Valley’s Journal News, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and the Buffalo News.

The New York State Council of School Superintendents takes the position that the tax cap needs to be amended, if it is to be made permanent. Read the rest of this entry »

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New York’s public schools need a financial sustainability agenda

January 12th, 2018 by Robert Lowry

Earlier this week we sent all Assemblymembers and Senators our report, “A Sustainability Agenda for New York’s Public Schools.”

The report begins,

New York’s state constitution promises “…a system of free common schools, wherein all the children of this state may be educated.” Due in part to actions being taken by the federal government, the state’s fiscal outlook now is exceptionally uncertain. More than ever, New York’s public schools need action on an agenda to promote a more financially sustainable future and to enable them to fulfill the promise of our constitution.

It recommends four sets of actions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Regents Report — December 2017

December 17th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

The Council started something new last week — using Periscope to broadcast an update on issues in the news. Council Executive Director Charles Dedrick, Assistant Director Greg Berck and I discussed actions taken at the December meeting of the Board of Regents this past Monday and Tuesday.

You can watch the 10-minute video here. We plan on doing these videos on a regular basis going forward.

Below is a further report on some of the actions taken or discussed by the Regents last week, co-written by Greg and me. The full agenda and supporting materials can be found on the Regents website. To view agenda items, click on the committee name (e.g., P-12 Education). Read the rest of this entry »

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On Mayoral Control

June 26th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

The regular 2017 session of the New York State Legislature ended last week without action to extend mayoral control over the New York City public schools. It is now due to expire after June 30 — this Friday.

Our testimony on the subject at a May 2016 Senate Education Committee hearing began,

No one should desire a return to the school governance structure which preceded mayoral control in New York City.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Extending the property tax cap as is — there are better options

June 17th, 2015 by Robert Lowry

Today, the Council joined with other school and local government groups to urge the legislature to defer action on extending the property tax cap, or making it permanent.  It is not due to expire until next year.

Below are my remarks as prepared for delivery — I omitted some passages at the event.  The recommendations I refer to are those developed by the Educational Conference Board. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why we need School Aid runs

January 28th, 2015 by Robert Lowry

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

More questions than answers

January 22nd, 2015 by Robert Lowry

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 »

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A teacher evaluation success story

January 20th, 2015 by Robert Lowry

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dueling ads

January 20th, 2015 by Robert Lowry

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)

 

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Pivotal day in state education policy debates

February 10th, 2014 by Robert Lowry

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 »

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