Ed Commission Report +

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On January 3 Governor Cuomo convened a cabinet meeting at which the Preliminary Report of the New NY Education Reform Commission was presented, and a number of other important issues were discussed. A summary follows:

Preliminary Report of the Commission
(the full 92 page report is attached)
Chairman Dick Parsons presented recommendations including:
• Full-day kindergarten, especially for high needs students
• Integrated Services (e.g., health, mental health, dental), especially in “impacted” community schools. The Governor expressed strong support for this recommendation, referring to such schools as “school plus” or as an “integrated community support network.” He felt that such schools are different and should not be compared to other (affluent, well resourced) schools. He further expressed his vision that such schools become the “single point of contact” for all (local, state and federal) community services.
• Extending the school day or school year
• Recruit and retain teachers and principals; elevating the status of such educators
• Increase college admission requirements, requiring more classroom/clinical experience and examination requirements that resemble the bar exam.
• Create incentives to reward performance
• Create public-private partnerships and enhance high school offerings (e.g., technical skills) and credential opportunities
• Make greater and more innovative use of technology to improve the delivery of instruction and assessments. Chairman Parsons went on to recommend that the state create models and incentives.
• Streamline the process for school district consolidation, and use technology to expand access to programs/subjects. In regard to consolidation, the Governor cited anticipated push-back based on turf and beurocracy, but ended the discussion by saying, “We’re ready.”
Governor Cuomo preceded Mr. Parsons presentation by saying that, as compared to other states, New York has over the years lost ground in educational performance  He expressed support for virtually all the above recommendations, but for some of the recommendations (e.g., full-day kindergarten) he said that securing sufficient funding will be a challenge. Toward to conclusion of his remarks on the Commission’s report, the Governor expressed agreement with the assertion of Commission member Jeff Canada who said, “We have failed our kids.” The Governor and his staff will review the Commission’s full report to determine aspects to be included in the Executive Budget.

Annual Professional Performance Review
In regard to the questions from the press, Chairman Parsons said that APPR is not addressed in the preliminary report. Commission members abided by the recommendation of Commissioner King, who was paraphrased as saying: “Let’s let this roll out and see what results.” The Commission chairman also said that APPR will be addressed in the Commission’s next report in order to address aspects to be “changed and fine-tuned.”
The Governor also strongly dismissed any possibility of waiving or extending the January 17 due date for the submission of APPR plans – including for New York City. During the course of the meeting an unidentified source indicated that 98 percent of school districts now had APPRs in place.

Fiscal Cliff
The Governor described federal actions to address the fiscal cliff as “ugly ball” (a basketball phrase indicating a good result, that was achieved in an unpleasing way). He described actions as “forced – not educated, not collaborative…”; but much better than the alternative of no action.

Sandy Relief Act
The Governor expressed great admiration for all members of the New York (and New Jersey) federal delegations; he also expressed great disappointment in leadership of the House who “reneged” on pledges to pass the $60 billion package yesterday, then this morning; and now pledge action in about one month. Upon further inquiry by reporters, the Governor said that this matter will not have a great impact on the New York State budget, but will have a great impact for families. He repeatedly said that “time matters” and indirectly stated his hope that action would be taken well before a month’s time.

Gun Control
The Governor indicated that his office is working with the Senate and Assembly in regard to gun control. During the course of the interview he indicated that he supports a ban on assault weapons, and that he personally supports micro-stamping (but does not feel that passage of such a measure is likely). He does not plan to pursue a ban on gun shows, saying such decisions should be addressed at the local level. He indicated that “significant change” in needed in regard to guns, mental health and the “culture of violence.” No deadline or timeframe has been set by his office for this purpose.