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Legislative Task Force On Cuomo's Education Initiatives

Mandate relief needed, says Rob Seiden, who heads Port Washington group.

In his State of the State speech last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York must do its part to help students compete in a global environment. 

He called for extending the school day, and school year. His recommendations also include creating a “bar exam,” for teachers, and master teachers who would received an additional $15,000 in income for four years to mentor other teachers. 

Other ideas include community schools in some of New York’s neediest areas, offering education, and services that include health, employment and more.

How do these ideas play out on a local level?

“The Legislative Task Force has discussed many of these issues,” said Rob Seiden, who heads up Port Washington’s Legislative Task Force, which is reaching out to lawmakers as it seeks mandate relief.

“These are mostly initiatives that are geared to low performing school districts,” Seiden added. ”There is nothing here that addresses school districts that are spending their money wisely and having excellent results in student performance – as in Port Washington and other high performing school districts – and how the tax cap is harming these schools and that his promise for mandate relief has not been addressed.”

“In fact, the State recently handed down a new set of mandates in the form of ‘PARCC,’ which will be very expensive for school districts to administer,” Seiden added.

He was referring to the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. This mandate has raised concerns about increased testing and acquiring enough computers and bandwidth to test students concurrently.

Seiden continued. “The legislative task force also is recommending that the governor come visit with Long Island to speak on these issues and also to address concerns about pension reform and other savings to schools such as reform to the Wicks Law and other areas,” he said. 

“In addition, it has been suggested that the tax cap should include an exemption or waiver of the cap for reasonable expenditures by school districts related to safety and security measures,” Seiden said. “The Governor's proposals are overall sound and forward thinking and I applaud him, but they do not really help high-performing school districts.”

Arguendo January 15, 2013 at 04:16 PM
As opposed to having to spend a significant portion of the school year teaching while dumbing down the curriculum so as to teach to high stakes national and state tests? BS!
Joseph Mirzoeff January 15, 2013 at 04:28 PM
To arguendo, if a teacher chooses spend the students' time teaching to the test, that is a problem. Class time should be used for teaching curriculum. The students should learn, and the tests should measure if they learned. This "teach to the test stuff" is a union canard expressed to undermine testing and accountability, for the purpose of promoting job security, which may conflict with quality of work.
Arguendo January 15, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Far from a canard, the waste of time and potential associated with teaching to standardized tests and dumbing down the curriculum to suit are as real as the sun rising in the east -- every day.
Joseph Mirzoeff January 15, 2013 at 04:58 PM
To me, a teacher who teaches to the test is cheating the system and the student, it's not what the teacher is hired for. Why not just give the students the answers if the test result is so important? But, actually that's done too, just far less frequently. Where do you draw the line? The fact that "teaching to the test" is done does not make it right, and it is not what we should do. If you want to give test prep optionally after school fine, but class time should be for curriculum.
Arguendo January 15, 2013 at 05:21 PM
What about this don't you get? It's part of the CURRENT curriculum and the tests part of the CURRENT mandates.

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