When New York Governor Cuomo appointed an Education Reform Commission some time ago and appointed his plutocrat pals whose ignorance about public education is outshone only by their wealth and power, few working in the trenches expected anything good to come of it. They will not be surprised.
While few would object to the call for free pre-k for students living in poverty and using schools as the hub for health care delivery in our impoverished neighborhoods, the chances of the state having the money to finance these worthy goals are about zero. Interestingly, the commission didn’t make any recommendations on how to finance their proposals. I suppose we should not have expected people like Commission Chair Richard Parsons, former chair of Citigroup, to call for increased personal and corporate taxes to finance these reforms.
Among the other so-called reforms, there is Cuomo’s familiar call for the consolidation of schools districts. Popular thought says that this would save big dollars if it could be politically accomplished. However, the one example we’ve had on Long Island yielded higher costs, as salaries and other costs were leveled up to those of the higher paying district. One way or another, I’m betting the instinct for local control trumps even the illusion of saving money. There is also a call for longer school days and an extended school year, again without any thought for the cost. I guess they’re assuming that teachers will simply volunteer or be forced to work the extra time. It’s interesting that in the press report there is no mention of what the extra time is for.
Finally, my favorite recommendation, made by none other than our president of the American Federation of Teachers – a bar type exam for teachers. There’s a reform we can all get behind. It costs next to nothing, will accomplish even less, but boy does it make for a good sound bite.