education reform

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Education reforms were one of the most contentious parts of this year's state budget. But while most of the attention went to negotiations about teacher evaluations and standardized tests, new policies also were put in place for dealing with failing schools. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

New York state Sen. Dave Valesky is among those who are calling this year's budget process a difficult one. The central New York senator and member of the Independent Democratic Conference says that's because of the numerous policy proposals that were included in the governor's original budget plan. 

Valesky says it's not surprising that many of the non-spending items were removed -- like the Dream Act, raising the minimum wage and property tax relief. And the senator says that's probably a good thing. 

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature approved some significant changes to the state’s education system and how teachers are evaluated going forward. But, before those policies can be implemented, the new system faces a big test -- literally -- later this month.

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Some observers of this year's state budget negotiations in Albany thought that the process was more complicated than in recent years. And they're not alone. Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says it's amazing the budget ever got done on time.

As the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, DeFrancisco was intimately involved in the budget talks. The Republican says this year was different because Gov. Andrew Cuomo added legislation like education and ethics reform to the state spending plan.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

This budget season in Albany has further eroded the relationship between teachers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

When Cuomo linked school reform to school spending in this year’s budget process, it ratcheted up the rancor from teachers, school districts and some parents across the state.   

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Even before the final details of the education changes in the budget are revealed, teachers’ unions are already claiming partial victory in their war of words with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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State lawmakers planned to hold meetings throughout the weekend as they put the finishing touches on the state budget. But, a couple big issues remain unresolved.

Senate Republicans are trying to modify Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to require full disclosure of law clients in legislators’ outside business.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, who works part-time at a private law firm, says he expects to agree on a “robust” new disclosure law, but concedes that it may only apply to new law clients, not existing business arrangements.

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The state Assembly, Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo continue to work on sticking points in the state budget, as yet another item has now been dropped from the spending plan -- raising the state’s minimum wage.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature are considering a commission to design a new teacher evaluation plan, in order to break an impasse over the state budget. But even some lawmakers admit that the compromise is just kicking the can down the road.

Cuomo has demanded that education policy changes be passed along with the state budget or he’ll hold up school aid increases.

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A new poll finds voters disagree with most of Gov. Andrew’s Cuomo’s tactics during the current budget negotiations. Cuomo has tied ethics reform and education policy changes to the budget, and threatened to hold up the spending plan if the legislature does not agree.  

A Siena College poll finds that, while New Yorkers think ethics reform and school funding are important, they don’t want the issues linked to the budget, and they say an on-time spending plan is important to them, says Siena’s Steve Greenberg.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Sen. Dave Valesky is optimistic that negotiators will come through with significant increases in public school spending when the state budget plan is finalized.  

The Oneida Democrat notes the both the Senate and the Assembly budgets include almost $2 billion increases in public education spending over last year.  

But, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he won’t approve big spending increases for education unless lawmakers agree to his package of controversial education reforms. Valesky says lawmakers don’t want the two dependent upon each other.

New York Now

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie gave his first broadcast interview to public radio and television. In it, he expressed his frustrations over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to link numerous unrelated items to the state budget.

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In the latest step in the state budget dance, both houses have released their versions of a state spending plan. The Senate and Assembly each increase education well above Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed level, and each leave key elements of the governor’s plan out.

Both the Assembly and the Senate significantly increase school aid spending from Cuomo’s budget, with the Assembly recommending a $1.8 billion increase, and the Senate proposing $1.9 billion more.

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It was the charter schools’ turn to rally at the state Capitol Wednesday in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to allow 100 more charter schools in New York.

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Education is one of the biggest issues being debated this year in Albany. Now, Gov.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York educators are galvanizing support as they oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed education policy.

Cuomo is proposing sweeping education reforms as part of his 2015 budget. They include stricter teacher evaluations, tougher tenure rules and expansion of charter schools. In his State of the State message, he tied it all together with money.

"If the legislature passes these reforms, I propose a 4.8 percent increase in the budget. A $1.1 billion investment in education, because it will be the right education system," Cuomo said.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a stop in Syracuse Wednesday he cares more about upstate New York than previous administrations.

Cuomo says investments in nanotech in Albany and the Buffalo Billion are paying off for those regions. He’s put forward a competition plan for other regions, like Syracuse, to compete for a half billion in aid. And he wants to expand broadband internet coverage across upstate.

Cuomo spent a significant amount of his speech at SUNY-ESF talking about education reform.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his joint State of the State and budget message, proposing a $141.6 billion spending plan that in part sets up a show down with teachers and education advocates.

The governor wants 100 more charter schools and an overhaul of teacher evaluations, which he says are “baloney,” because virtually all teachers are rated as adequate.

“Ninety-eight percent of the teachers rated effective,” Cuomo said. “Who are we kidding, my friends?”

CUPROF

A major part of Common Core learning standards is a standardized testing system. A system that many have taken issue with.

“I’m all for setting the bar high, but you are setting the bar so high that you are going to defeat a group of people and they’re going to drop out of school,” said parent Lisa Arnone. “As a middle school teacher I already hear them talking. They say ‘they’ll never pass those tests and they’re done.’ And that will be a shame that they will be defeated by these tests.”

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse mayoral hopeful Pat Hogan is proposing a ten-point education program for the Syracuse City School District. He's one of four candidates in a Democratic primary for mayor that includes incumbent Stephanie Miner.

Hogan calls education the elephant in the room when it comes to issues facing the city today. He says it's the perceived state of the city schools that drives many families to the suburbs.   

Teachers continue to fight what they call the over testing and underfunding of education in New York state. Hundreds of teachers from central New York joined a rally in Albany this weekend to continue pressing the state for change.

In all, thousands of teachers were at the rally organized by the New York State United Teachers Union.

The research on this is pretty clear: between the ages one and five, the human brain develops faster than at any other time. In Chemung County, a project called the School Readiness Project sends nurses to the hospital whenever a baby is born.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Commission on Education Reform got an earful at a public hearing held at the state Capitol today, as speaker after speaker complained about a statewide school system that they say is in disarray.

Speakers voiced a litany of complaints to the commission, ranging from over-testing of students, excessive teacher bashing, and school districts drowning in debt.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo named a blue ribbon commission to look at the problems facing education in New York, instructing them to come back with an “action plan” not a “theoretical document.”