Governor Cuomo barely finished his State of the State speech on January 8th when the first reactions to his speech started appearing in social media. The following day, there were two petitions drafted regarding the merit pay and $20,000 bonuses for teachers the governor mentioned.
One petition appeals to teachers who “…reject Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to give merit pay to teachers rated Highly Effective on the State’s flawed teacher evaluation system.” The other petition, intended for residents, explains the flaws of the merit pay: “This competition for merit pay will also lead to an increased emphasis on testing and teaching to those tests–rather than on teaching our children how to learn and how to develop their best talents and abilities.” Both petitions were addressed to New York State legislators. You can read the full text and sign in support at the links above.
The governor also called again for expanded full day Pre-K. He suggested an ambitious, “bold” $2 billion bond “…providing the technology of tomorrow today to bring our classrooms up to speed,” and he “…[wants us] to provide to the top ten percent of high school graduates full scholarships to any SUNY or CUNY school if they pursue a math of science career and agree to work in the state of New York for five years.” All these projects deserve attention and scrutiny.
There are education bills pending from the last year. The Assembly produced A7994, a bill that has been later amended to reject the Race to The Top (which is just a modified version of No Child Left Behind). The bill got its Senate counterpart S6267 on January 9, 2014. There is also bill S4099 “education investment incentives act”.
The bills are a mixed bag. All students, parents, residents, teachers, and administrators would benefit from passing the bill to reject the RtTT, despite the obligation to return $700 million the state qualified for to receive from the USED. In the long haul, we would save a lot more. The “education investment incentives act” bill is a different matter. By itself, it would be a welcome tuition tax relief. But since it complements regulation of charter schools and voucher programs, its adoption would serve only charter school management corporations. It would help drain funds from residents and public schools, and drain students from parochial schools.