7:38am

Tue December 10, 2013
Education

Advocates rally in support of public education

Advocates for public education are calling for changes in education that will give every child in New York state access to high-quality public education. The message was made clear during a national Day of Action organized by unions, community groups and schools across the nation and New York yesterday.

Supporters of public education in central New York wore blue as part of the event, meant to reclaim the promise of public education. Among those asking for the state to make changes is Shelly Chizzonite, a counselor in the East Syracuse Minoa School District.

“My wish is for lawmakers and the Board of Regents to listen to the real education stakeholders; parents, students, educators and community members," Chizzonite said. "Our voices are important. If we work together, we can get this right. Genuine reform will address the real needs of schools and protect the right of every child to have a public education.”

Parent Pam Percival, representing Parents for Public Schools of Syracuse, says not every child gets the same kind of education in New York state.

"It depends on who you’re born to and where they live, what kind of opportunities are available to you, and that’s not just right," Percival said. "It’s not fair and it doesn’t serve our society.”

But she says there are ways to change that.

"We ask for this budget year to have an increase of $1.9 billion funneled to our schools; we asked for a renewed interest in getting the funding formula fair," Percival said. "And we ask that we hold off testing until we step up and do what we need to do to get things moving.”

That’s why Percival and others are calling for solutions they say will ensure every child in the state gets a high-quality public education. Those solutions? More equitable funding of education; universal pre-Kindergarten for four-year-olds, no standardized testing for kids in Kindergarten through second grade, as well as a pause in the current implementation of the new more rigorous Common Core curriculum. Those priorities will be highlighted with an open letter to the Board of Regents.

Retired Hannibal school teacher Bill Spreter hopes Albany takes these ideas and looks inward for answers.

"All right, we’re going to re-examine what we’ve done," Spreter said. "Change some things, hopefully fundamentally, that every interest group here will be pleased with the outcome. And when I say interest groups I mean students, parents, teachers and the community at large.”

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