RELEASE: New York Fails to Make the Grade
For immediate release: July 2, 2013
Emily Karol, Alliance for Quality Education
Emily@aqeny.org / work- (518) 432-5315 ext. 102
Albany Fails to Make the Grade—Moving in the Wrong Direction
The Alliance for Quality Education Releases College & Career Readiness Report Card
ALBANY – Today, the Alliance for Quality Education released their College and Career Readiness Report Card titled, Are We There Yet? The report card grades Albany on its progress in improving public education in New York State. Click here to read the report.
The report card found that the state was moving in the right direction in the areas of “Providing Quality Pre-K” and “Creating Community Schools.” However, the report card found that the state is moving in the wrong direction in the areas of “Expanding Learning Time,” “Providing Challenging and Engaging Curriculum,” “Creating a Positive School Climate and Reducing Suspensions,” and “Investing in Equity.” The report card gave the state an “Incomplete” in “Providing Quality Teaching Initiatives,” stating that there is not enough evidence to show whether or not the new teacher evaluation is a step in the right or wrong direction yet.
“We agree with the Governor, the state should be investing in full-day pre-K, high quality curriculum, teacher mentoring, more time for student learning, and improving low-performing schools by creating community schools,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “Now that the state is funding these successful educational strategies for less than two percent of New York students, the next step should be for the state to embrace the reality that we have a moral obligation to make these programs available to students throughout the state.”
The report card finds that, overall, New York State is moving in the wrong direction because it is failing to provide large portions of students with these successful educational opportunities. New York has created small grant programs in several of these areas, but those programs each serve less than two percent of students in the state.
“The way that this state is treating my child’s education is just plain wrong,” said Natasha Capers, parent from Brooklyn. “The bare bones of education is unacceptable, and I’m angry that my child has less opportunities to succeed than other children in this state. The state must do its job, so that schools can do their job to give students an equal opportunity to succeed.”
“The Governor’s initiatives in education continue to fall short in addressing any substantive issues of real school improvement,” said Laurence Spring, Superintendent of Schenectady City School District. “While the state provides more than 100 districts with more than 100% of their foundation funding, dramatically underfunded districts must compete for grant funding, placing them in the awkward position of cutting base programming but attempting to add experimental initiatives. Schenectady is eager to embrace expanded early childhood and extended school-year / school-day opportunities. However, given that we receive such a small share of our foundation funding, we are cutting basic services that students need to be successful. AQE’s Report Card helps to ensure that the entire picture of school funding and improvement efforts is clear to all.”
“Populations living in vulnerable conditions require a formula of interventions and school systems that are protective and functioning effectively. The AQE report provides the calculations necessary for this formula to work,” said Dr. Edward Fergus-Arcia, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, New York University.
“We need to do better. The recommendations of the Are We There Yet? report may ruffle some traditionalist feathers, but that is because they emphasize the best interests of the students,” said Patrick Michel, HFM BOCES superintendent. “Based on international best practices, AQE’s report card shows the path to student success. The state should not ignore these recommendations if it truly wants to ensure students are college and career ready.”
“It is extremely important for us to provide quality education to all children,” said Senator Kevin S. Parker. “We must continue to work to make sure our children’s education is fully and fairly funded, and continue to improve access to education, quality pre-K, and community schools. This will ensure that our children are prepared to compete in the global economy.”
“People are angry,” said Willie White, Executive Director of A Village. “They are angry that 35,000 teachers have been taken out of classrooms. They are angry that opportunities like art, music, drama and sports are on the chopping block. They are angry that the students who need our help the most are the ones suffering the worst fate with these budget cuts. This report card shows that New York is failing in its commitment to students.”
“For too many years now, AQE has worked to try to stop the bleeding,” said Easton. “But, Band-Aids won’t heal deep wounds. We are in an education crisis. The state needs to change course and focus on improving schools, otherwise the damage may be irreparable.”
Since the 2007 court ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, which states that New York has a constitutional obligation to provide all students with a “sound basic education,” the issue of equity and opportunity has been a consistent theme in the educational debate.
“It’s time for New York to take a hard look at how it treats all students in this state,” David Sciarra, Executive Director of the Education Law Center in New Jersey. “Ranked #43 in education funding equity, New York is well behind the rest of the nation in closing the opportunity gap between high need and low need schools. A system built on equity provides all students with high quality curriculum and access to quality pre-K. In New Jersey, the opportunity gap is getting smaller because we invest in equity. New York ought to do the same.”
“There exists an elaborate narrative of denial perpetrated by conservative pundits, and echoed by some people in New York, trying to deny the fact that money actually matters a great deal when it comes to closing the gap in educational opportunity between students in wealthy and poor communities,” said Easton.
“This report card is a way of holding the legislature accountable for meeting the needs of New York’s most vulnerable youth. The progress to date is at best modest. This is the state’s responsibility and must be the state’s highest priority. If the state fails to provide students with the opportunities that AQE’s report card outlines, many of these children will be dependent on state services for generations and few will maximize their potential. This will not only be a tragedy for these children, but New York will never be able to solve its budget problems or be attractive for economic development,” said Michael P. Hogan Ph.D. Associate Dean, College of Education Information and Technology, Long Island University.
“I would like to commend the Alliance for Quality Education for releasing a thorough evaluation of New York’s public education system,” said Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi. “I strongly agree with the report’s emphasis on the importance of Career and Technical Education programs. We need to ensure that this curriculum is available statewide, so that our employers have a skilled group of applicants for jobs that require some technical ability and competence. These are the jobs of the future that will encourage our young people to stay in New York.”