Rep. Dan Maffei has a to-do list for himself and the community when it comes to education. The Syracuse-area Democrat released a six-point plan this week that arises from listening sessions he held across the 24th Congressional District earlier this year.
Maffei says one of the key things that stuck with him during the sessions, was the extent of morale problems among educators across the 24th Congressional District. And he says that's one thing he hopes his proposal can tackle.
"Yes, we need to judge our educational system, we need to have standards, we need to do all these things," Maffei said. "But we need to make sure it's a value added education system. That we're not simply judging the education system based on the outcomes alone, but on what is added; how students are educated from when they come in the door to when they go out."
One of the first things he plans to focus on is the reauthorization of the federal Race to the Top program that provides federal funds for local school districts. But he says it needs some tweaks.
"Each school district is different," Maffei said. "Each school is different and each child is different, and right now it's too one-size-fits-all. So, working through that reauthorization to get to a point where we can, yes, have national standards, but not make them so rigid that we can't fit in the particular needs of school districts, schools, parents and students."
Maffei says he wants to provide teachers with an adequate timeframe to deal with the new Common Core curriculum standards. He admits that puts him at odds with the New York State Education Department.
"Where I might be critical of the state education department, and say there's got to be some way to provide more time for teachers to learn these standards and adapt to them and teach them properly to their students, I know that they are under a lot of pressure because of what's coming down from Washington."
Maffei also supports more professional envelopment for teachers, expansion of Pre-K, and a push for more career track and vocational education programs. He also wants the reauthorization of programs that would help make the cost of higher education more affordable.