New York State spends more per student than any other state, but ranks only 38th in graduation rates. Our system has suffered because Albany has spent more time worrying about the business of education -- contracts, salaries, and benefits -- than they have spent worrying about the children.
In his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo noted all the players in the education establishment -- school boards, principals, teachers and even bus drivers and maintenance staff -- have lobbyists in Albany. All, that is, except for the students. The Governor pledged to take on a second job this year as lobbyist for the students.
As part of his commitment to put students first, Governor Cuomo has proposed critical education reforms, including a real teacher evaluation system as well as enhanced funding for his program of competitive grants to support student achievement and school efficiency.
In 2010, our state was awarded a $700 million grant from the federal government's “Race To the Top” program that required teacher evaluations. But the state has failed to produce the system due to a lawsuit blocking the implementation, and we were at risk of losing the $700 million.
To break the logjam, the Governor announced that the parties in the lawsuit had thirty days to agree on a new, effective teacher evaluation system or he would propose an evaluation system in his budget amendments. Schools will be given one year to implement the system or risk forfeiting increases in education aid in the future.
On February 16th, the deadline for the deal, Governor Cuomo, joined by the leadership of the teachers' unions and State Education Commissioner John King, announced the creation of a groundbreaking teacher evaluation system that makes New York a national leader in education reform.
The next step will be for each school district to work with their teachers to submit a plan for a teacher evaluation system based on the requirements put forth by the NYS Education Department.
This comprehensive evaluation system will make sure our kids are getting the education they deserve and we’re getting the most out of our tax dollars. Our kids will also now benefit from $700 million in federal Race to the Top funding, that was contingent on our state enacting teacher evaluations.
Thanks to the Governor’s leadership and the hard work of all parties involved, we were able to work together to put the needs of New York's students first.
But the issue of performance in education goes beyond teacher evaluations. Last year, the Governor proposed two competitive grant programs to improve student performance and increase administrative efficiencies. He will expand these programs this year and move towards education funding that rewards performance and truly services the needs of the students.
Additionally, to make other long-term reforms to the state's education system, Governor Cuomo announced that he will appoint a bipartisan education commission to work with the Legislature to recommend reforms in key areas including teacher accountability, student achievement, and management efficiency.
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