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NY’s Report Card: Public Education “In Trouble”

PHOTO: An end-ot-the-year “report card” (different from the old-school one above) has been issued by New York education reformers. The “grades” they’ve given to the state’s education policies are not going to earn anybody a congratulatory ice cream cone. Photo courtesy Mark ScheererPHOTO: An end-ot-the-year “report card” (different from the old-school one above) has been issued by New York education reformers. The “grades” they’ve given to the state’s education policies are not going to earn any
PHOTO: An end-ot-the-year “report card” (different from the old-school one above) has been issued by New York education reformers. The “grades” they’ve given to the state’s education policies are not going to earn anybody a congratulatory ice cream cone. Photo courtesy Mark Scheerer

PHOTO: An end-ot-the-year “report card” (different from the old-school one above) has been issued by New York education reformers. The “grades” they’ve given to the state’s education policies are not going to earn any
July 3, 2013

ALBANY, N.Y. - New York education reformers have issued the state a "report card" for the first time, and the "grades" are not the sort that a student would be in a hurry to show Mom and Dad.

The report card, drawn up by the Alliance for Quality Education, shows progress being made in two areas: providing quality pre-kindergarten programs and creating a special category of institutions called community schools.

However, according to the group's policy director, Marina Marcou-O'Malley, not enough improvement is evident in four other areas.

"If I were a parent and got a report card like this," she said, "I would be really, really mad at my child and say that there's clearly some changes that need to be made."

The bad "grades" were in the areas of curriculum, learning time, reducing student suspensions and the spending gap between wealthy and poor school districts. Receiving an "incomplete" was the contentious area of teacher evaluation and its use of student testing.

Education Commissioner John King said implementation of Common Core standards has a goal of ensuring that every student graduates from high school prepared for college and career.

David Sciarra, executive director of the nonprofit Education Law Center, said he thinks making pre-K available to all 4-year-olds should be at the top of the list, adding that progress will take new investments and repurposing of existing ones.

"This is not so much ... a report card where you - kind of like what we do with students today - you've got to get your grade from a C to a B or an A in one year," he said. "We've got to get the legislators and the governor to recognize these are serious deficits."

Patrick Michel, district superintendent of Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery County BOCES, said he'd like to see an improved "grade" in extending school time.

"If you look at our counterparts in the rest of the world, whether it be in Europe or in Asia, their children go into much longer school years and they have much longer school days," Michel said.

The report card includes recommendations for improvements in all seven areas graded, based on what AQE says are proven strategies. Marcou-O'Malley said.

"I am not necessarily sure I would go as far as to say that the state is failing," she said. "I would say that right now we are in trouble."

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY