The Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) is pleased that Governor Cuomo’s Education Commission recommended increasing wrap-around services and expanding pre-kindergarten programming. Educators and parents know that supporting children and families, making sure they have access to health care and other services, as well as providing robust early interventions will increase educational opportunity and outcomes for all of New York’s children, especially here in New York City.
It is unfortunate to note, however, that the report released yesterday says nothing about lowering class size. It says nothing about ensuring that a fair amount of funding reaches New York City’s classrooms. The report is silent on the need to provide fair funding for urban districts in general, where the overwhelming majority of impoverished students live.
Further, its recommendations regarding technology and teacher recruitment and retention are untested and unsupported. These are, essentially, corporate-minded reforms that we believe are not in the best interest of our children, our schools and our profession.
The Commission’s call for increased on-line learning will result in fewer unionized teaching positions on the one hand and increased profits for corporations on the other. Technology-based programs and initiatives have proven costly where implemented, and have produced less-than-stellar outcomes thus far. The Commission connected increased online-learning with greater parent involvement, a claim that is insulting to parents who want authentic involvement in our schools.
The recommendations for retaining great teachers include recruiting educators from non-traditional career tracks; a strategy that has produced a generation of ‘fly by night’ teachers who tend to leave the profession after only a few years. The Commission also aligns itself with AFT President Randi Weingarten’s call for a national bar-like exam for teachers, a proposal MORE has publicly opposed (see here)
The Commission’s shortcomings are not surprising given that the majority of its members are neither public school parents nor teachers. Further, as we saw here in New York City, citizens who were chosen to testify for the Commission disproportionately favored those who align with the corporate reform agenda.
Rather than experimenting with other people’s children and tax dollars, education funding should be spent on what we know works: small class sizes and supporting and retaining experienced educators.
UFT Presidential candidate Julie Cavanagh said, “We hoped the Commission would place a greater emphasis on giving schools and teachers the tools they need to truly put children first. This would mean lowering class sizes, accepting parents as stakeholders in public education, listening to the perspective of career educators, and equitable funding for our schools. Unfortunately, it is precisely these issues the Commission has largely ignored.”