News, trends, and analysis related to higher education and grade school districts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Students, faculty and staff at Syracuse University are standing by students at other colleges and universities that have been plagued by racial tensions.   

Many of the protesting students wore black, the color of the University of Missouri, and they held fists high in the shadow of the Hall of Languages Thursday. They chanted “we do it for Mizzou” and “black lives matter.”

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Students at Ithaca College gathered Wednesday to demand the resignation of their college president. They say he has a long history of unresponsiveness to racial incidents.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

The leaders of school districts, teachers unions, and parents are presenting a united front in calling for $2.2 billion more school aid next year.  They say a hard property tax cap with a zero percent increase is making it even more crucial that state lawmakers help them out.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Eight candidates are running for four positions on the Syracuse school board. This comes after an impressive showing by Democrats in the primary.

Tim Carroll, the Syracuse city Democratic chairman, said the race for the board of education started in January when 14 Democratic candidates declared they were running for four positions.  

Ellen Abbott / wr

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) is proposing a plan that will help teachers pay off student loans.  

Hanna toured an Oneida County elementary school that could benefit from his Teacher Loan Repayment Act. It would not only help teachers, but attract more educators to schools like J.D. George Elementary in Verona, a Title I school, which means at least 40 percent of the students are from low income families.  

Hanna says the proposal would take existing federal loan forgiveness programs for teachers and roll them into one viable option.

Kent Kanouse / Flickr

The federal government’s new College Scorecard is out, and it’s stirring debate on some campuses. It's a slick website that makes finding data on higher education institutions easy, but one of the metrics has some schools worried.

David Chanatry / New York Reporting Project at Utica College

While the cost of a higher education has continued to rise across the United States, one small private college in central NY is attempting to buck that trend.

The affordability of college education has come under increased scrutiny from lawmakers and parents alike. Utica College President Todd Hutton announced plans yesterday to help change that.

“It gives me great honor to share with you that beginning in the fall of 2016, Utica College will reset its published price of tuition and fees from $35,514 to under $20,000," Hutton said.

The teachers union and its allies will protest outside the annual Business Council of New York State's meeting in Lake George on Wednesday.  The union is upset over a speech to be given by former CNN anchor and now charter school advocate Campbell Brown.

Campbell Brown is the featured speaker at the yearly event, at the posh Sagamore Resort on Lake George. It often features top politicians, but seldom attracts demonstrations.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Part-time professors at Tompkins Cortland Community College want a union, but not just any union.

The college wants its adjuncts to join the full-time faculty union. The adjuncts say they need their own space, and they’re fighting for independence.

Last week, Robert Earle leaned back in his chair in front of his class at Tompkins Cortland Community Colllege, or TC3. Soft jazz played in the background.

Earle is an adjunct professor, and despite his easy demeanor, when he’s not teaching, he’s one of the driving forces behind the TC3 union fight.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

New York state has designated a number of schools across upstate New York as struggling and now superintendents must take action to turn them around. Public hearings began last night at Syracuse city schools to inform parents about what response they can expect from the district.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / via Flickr

The New York state’s education commissioner says she’s open to granting waivers to delay new teacher evaluation for an additional year, saying the new systems should not be hastily pushed through because of an arbitrary date.

The latest version of teacher and principal evaluations were pushed through in this year’s state budget by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It requires that the reviews be based more heavily on controversial standardized tests. The new plans are due this fall.

Cuomo orders review of Common Core

Sep 3, 2015
Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to address the controversy over the use of Common Core standards in the state's public schools. Thursday he made his strongest comments on the teaching guidelines yet.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

The standardized testing process is a little mysterious. Third- through eighth-graders take New York state exams every spring. But once they’re done, everybody goes on summer break. Where do the results go?

Last month schools around the state received those results. If you’re picturing big thick envelopes full of bar charts and Excel spreadsheets, guess again, says Chenango Valley Assistant Superintendent Liz DiCosimo.

timlewisnm / Flickr

School administrators are closely watching a letter campaign that’s taking place in the as school starts that could lead to even more children opting out of state standardized tests.

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News file photo

New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen is clarifying her stand on the opt out movement in an interview with New York State Public Radio & Television.

This year, 20 percent of children boycotted the third through eight grade math and English tests associated with the Common Core learning standards.

Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says parents absolutely have the right to opt their kids out of state standardized tests, but she says she still wants to talk to them to try to bring them back into the fold.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

SUNY’s latest strategy to try and help students graduate on time with less debt is a guarantee that credits will be transferred from one school to another

SUNY students begin the academic season this year with a promise from the state: they can transfer any general education requirements as well as some discipline-specific courses from one school to another in what Chancellor Nancy Zimpher calls the “guaranteed seamless transfer of credits.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It may have been the most momentous sausage sandwich moment at the New York State Fair since Senate candidate Rick Lazio refused to eat the state fair staple the year he ran against Hillary Clinton. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul bought a sandwich for one of the protesting teachers trailing her on the fairgrounds opening day Thursday.

Dozens of educators dogged Hochul around the fairgrounds yesterday chanting and repeating many of the concerns they’ve had about the Cuomo administration’s education policy for years now. And communication seems to be a big part of the dispute.

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News file photo

The New York state education commissioner’s plans to quell the testing opt out movement is getting some back lash from some Republicans in the legislature, including a former teacher.  

At a recent conference held by the teacher’s group Educators for Excellence, New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says she plans to try to convince parents not have their children repeat this year’s boycott of standardized tests associated with the Common Core learning standards, which resulted in 20 percent of students statewide opting out of the tests.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

With more than two-thirds of Oneida City School District students refusing to take the Common Core aligned exams this year, the district has one of the highest student opt out rates in New York state. But the standardized tests can provide the district with useful information that they will not have in 2015.

Alberto G. / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he doubts that there will be  federal sanctions for schools that have high rates of students who boycotted standardized tests this spring.

Twenty percent of students statewide boycotted the controversial exams associated with the Common Core learning standards, with higher rates upstate and on Long Island. Federal officials had the power to sanction schools with high opt our rates by withholding funding, and the state’s education commissioner said a few days ago that she was talking to officials and would not rule out the sanctions compete.

Lisa Ann Rogers / Flickr

Le Moyne College and Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) are making it easier to get an accelerated degree with the expansion of their successful fast track program.

With college costs skyrocketing anytime a student can cut down on the number of years they have to go to school the better. And that’s just what the fast track program currently does for students at Le Moyne’s Madden School of Business.  

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

The education programs that serve New York’s prison population are streamlining the path to a college degree. Private organizations offer college classes in 19 state facilities. Now several of the groups have formed a consortium to help students make it to graduation day.

In the past, transfer to a new prison often meant the end of an education for people working on their degrees. Many facilities don’t offer college programs. And even if they do, there are uncertainties: Will credits transfer? Are spots in the program open?

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News file photo

New York State Education officials say there’s some improvement in the Common Core aligned math and English tests taken by third through eighth graders this year, but admit that two-thirds of the students who took the test are still, essentially, failing the exams.

Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who just began her job in July, put the best face on data that shows student test scores in third through eighth grade math and English tests have made just incremental progress in year three of the state’s implementation of the Common Core learning standards.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Summer is a lean time for adjunct professors. They teach part-time, and in the summer there are often fewer courses available for them. At Binghamton University, things get even tighter.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

New York state’s new education commissioner, in her first address since beginning the job just over one week ago, told the rural schools association meeting in Cooperstown, that she intends to be more inclusive to teachers. 

Alberto G. / Flickr

Testing giant Pearson will no longer develop New York’s standardized tests for elementary and middle school students. The state is turning instead to Questar Assessment. That could signal a broader shift on education after heated controversy.

New state education commissioner visits former school district

Jul 10, 2015
Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

New York Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia has only been on the job for four days and she’s already visiting her old stomping grounds.

Elia visited the Sweet Home School District in Amherst in western New York Thursday morning. Elia taught social studies there for 16 years  in the 1970s and 198os.

Elia spoke with the school board, teachers, administrators, parents and reporters about public education.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Transgender students in New York continue to face harassment and discrimination at school, according to a recent report from the New York Civil Liberties Union. That’s despite a five-year-old anti-bullying law called the Dignity for All Students act, or DASA.

The law bans discrimination based on a whole list of characteristics, including race, religion, gender and gender identity. But when it passed in 2010, the social climate was different.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse University has joined the ranks of college campuses that are now smoke free.

The ban goes in effect this month.  Work crews dismantled all of the cigarette butt receptacles and signs went up alerting anyone to the new policy, which prohibits the use of all tobacco products -- cigarettes, cigars, snuff, pipes,  and chewing tobacco.  

Gail Grozalis, executive director of the University Wellness Initiative, says vaping is also on the list.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr


New York’s Board of Regents meets Monday and Tuesday to finalize controversial new teacher evaluation laws ahead of a June 30 deadline.

When legislators mandated the evaluation system in the state budget, they left out some details. Now the state Education Department is writing those rules, and the Regents will vote on them.