It was a busy day yesterday

A lot happened in education news yesterday, so we figured a mid-week rundown was in order. And away we go. We’ll add news coverage as it emerges. (note: post has been updated on 1/15 @ 9 am)

Cuomo’s Education Reform Commission issues final report

A commission charged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo with issuing recommendations for improving the state’s education commission finally issued its report on Tuesday, 19 months after it was launched and four months after it was initially expected to issue the report. The New NY Education Reform Commission’s report entitled “Putting Students First” had six main reccomendations:

  • Expand early education because it is critical for getting students on a path to success.
  • Expand the use of technology in our schools, especially schools that have not been able to keep pace.
  • Reward the best and brightest educators, especially in our struggling schools.
  • Replicate programs that connect high school to college in order to create greater college opportunities, especially for underrepresented students.
  • Strategically invest in higher education to successfully connect students to the workforce.
  • Focus on efficiencies to reinvest administrative savings into the classroom.

News coverage:


NYS Comptroller Dinapoli releases school revenue report

According to a report issued on Tuesday, Jan. 14 by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York’s school districts have faced major fluctuations in their federal and state aid over the last decade and revenue growth was nearly flat the last three years, averaging only 1.3 percent. The report is part of DiNapoli’s fiscal stress initiative which is focusing greater attention on the issues that contribute to the financial pressures on local governments and school districts across the state.

“School districts are caught in a financial bind and are struggling for a way out,” said DiNapoli. “State and federal aid have noticeably slowed, local property tax revenues are capped and their rainy day funds are limited. While this combination of factors has forced school districts to tighten their belts, too many high-need school districts are left with limited options. Clearly, there needs to be a broader discussion about the challenges facing school districts and how we balance the impact of fiscal stress against efforts to hold down property taxes.”

News coverage:

And finally:

Top 4 posts of 2013: Number 1

Ed Speaks is counting down its top four posts of 2013. Here is our most-read post of the last year.

How parents can help kids shift their learning to the Common Core

Whether or not you agree with the new standards or state testing, it is the reality our children are facing right now. Our Friends over at Parent Today have provided these valuable resources for parents to help their kids navigate the new world of Common Core. Our thanks to them for allowing us to bring you this valuable content.

We’ll admit that the New York State Education Department’s EngageNY website sometimes can be less than engaging. If you are a parent, or anyone not used to digging around the Internet — particularly state-sponsored websites — the abundance of material there can be overwhelming. But if you take a deep breath and patiently sift through the resources offered about Common Core Learning Standards, you will find information that can help you understand what is happening in schools today.

You don’t have to agree with it, and we’re not saying there isn’t room and reason for debate, but today — right now — your child is studying math and English language arts under a new set of standards. Any changes designed to improve schooling, no matter how perfectly conceived, need parent involvement to succeed. So, your child needs you right now. Continue reading

Top 4 posts of 2013: Number 2

Ed Speaks is counting down its top four posts of 2013. Here is our second-most read post of the last year.

POV: “Implementation of the common core has been disastrous”

Points_viewThis “Point of View” post was written by Timothy Farley, a principal at Ichabod Crane Elementary School. It was presented as written testimony to the Senate Standing Committee on Education’s Public Hearing on November 13, 2013. (View media coverage of the hearing. You can also read Farley’s testimony on the Senate’s site here.)

I would like to thank the Senate Standing Committee for allowing me to testify today on this very important topic, the Regents Reform Agenda.  As the Principal of an Elementary and Middle School (grades 4-8), with 22 years experience, and the father of four school-aged children, I feel I bring a unique perspective to this discussion.  I will focus my testimony on the implementation of Common Core, state and local assessments, and the protection of student privacy.

Common Core Implementation:

To say that the implementation of Common Core has been flawed would be an understatement.  When you have the Chancellor of the Board of Regents saying, “We just need to jump in the deep end”, or the Commissioner of Education stating that, “we are building a plane in mid-air”, we have a serious problem.

Common Core was adopted by the NYS Education Department January 2011.  Since its adoption, our school has been doing its due diligence in implementing Common Core with less resources, more demands, and less than complimentary words coming from our Governor, Commissioner, and Chancellor.  From my perspective, our teachers have been lambasted and demoralized.

Common Core has never been properly field tested.  Bill Gates has been quoted as saying that it will take ten years to determine if these reforms will actually work.  This is after his last education reform that he pumped in $2 billion of his own money to see if smaller schools were better than larger ones.  I refuse to allow my children to be used as his guinea pigs to see if his latest whim will work.  If Common Core is so wonderful, why do people that are responsible for its implementation not send their own children to the schools that are forced to implement it?  If Common Core is so wonderful, why are so many states pulling out of  it?  There are currently 22 states that are either pulling out completely, partially pulling out, or have paused implementation (Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania; Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia). Continue reading

Ed Speaks holiday posting schedule

Happy holidays from all of us here at Education Speaks!

We are altering our posting schedule this week, as we imagine many of our regular readers are taking some well deserved vacation time. Here’s what you can expect to see from us this week:

  • December 24-30: Stories From Our Schools – Go inside schools from across the state and get a feel for some of the amazing things their students and teachers are doing.
  • December 31-January 3: Top Posts Countdown –  Re-live our top four posts from 2013 based on readership.

We will be resuming our regular posting schedule on January 6.

SFOS: Broadalbin-Perth’s 8th Grade STEM Program Receives Statewide Award for Innovation

Stories_schoolsThis edition of Stories from our Schools comes to us from Broadalbin-Perth CSD. In just its second year, the 8th grade STEM program at Broadalbin-Perth Middle School is already being recognized as one of the most innovative academic programs in New York state. The program is one of three to receive a 2013 Be the Change for Kids Innovation Award from the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE). The award recognizes programs that are making a difference in preparing students for college, careers and community participation in the 21st century.

Click here to learn more about the program and read the full story. 

Have a story you think would make for a great Stories from our Schools feature? Drop us a line at

POV: Are we in this for the children?

Points_viewThis POV was written by Dr. Patrick Michel, HFM BOCES District Superintendent. It orginally appeared on the HFM Palladin on October 17, 2013.

I have watched the video several times of enraged parents and teachers shouting down State Education Commissioner John King during a town hall-type meeting about Common Core Learning Standards. I’ve read numerous articles, blog posts and social media rants condemning Common Core as just about everything short of alien mind control. I do understand the frustration brought on by large-scale change, especially in a field – education – that typically evolves at a pace only slightly faster than a T-Rex.

Still, I’m confused. Common Core Learning Standards were designed to ensure that our children, from whichever state they hail, will be equipped after high school graduation to succeed at college and a career. Amidst all the rancor and protests, I have not heard one parent or teacher argue against that goal. Shouldn’t that mean we are all on the same side? Continue reading

NY schools in fical distress forum rundown

We were lucky enough to be able to attend a forum on schools in fiscal distress on Friday at the Rockefeller Institute in Albany. The event was really a “who’s who” of education funding experts — both in the audience and on the panel. Panelists included Rick Timbs from the Statewide School Finance Consortium, EJ McMahon from the Empire Center, Michael Rebell from the Campaign for Educational Equity, Deborah Cunningham from The New York State Association of School Business Officials and John Sipple from Cornell University and the New York Center for Rural Schools.

Here’s some interesting coverage on the event from the Albany Times Union’s Capitol Confidential blog. We live tweeted the event, so you can visit our twitter feed for the full story or check out some of the highlights after the jump. Continue reading

Statewide education groups come together to tackle Common Core

New York’s seven leading statewide education groups - NYSCOSS, NYSUT, NYSSBA, PTA, SAANYS, ASBO & Big 5 - have come together to endorse a five-point plan to help all students and their schools meet the expectations of the new Common Core learning standards.

The Educational Conference Board (ECB) – comprised of organizations that represent school boards, parents, superintendents, teachers, principals, business officials and other educators – has released a position paper entitled Common Ground on Common Core that outlines a plan to give students the support and resources they need to succeed under the state’s new Common Core learning standards.

Recent attention on student test scores, compliance with the new teacher and principal evaluation requirements, and recurring financial struggles has diverted resources and focus from student learning, the report states.

According to the report, most state aid was frozen in 2009-10 and total state aid to schools was cut in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. Despite the aid increases enacted in the last two state budgets, over 70 percent of school districts are still receiving less help now from the state than in 2008-2009, five years in the past.

“The Common Core learning standards represent the most significant increase in student expectations that New York schools have ever faced,” ECB Chair John Yagielski said. ”Therefore, to be effective, these standards must be properly implemented. Working together, the member organizations of ECB have identified actions that need to be taken to make these standards a reality in every classroom.”

The ECB’s five-point plan to put the focus on student learning and get the Common Core back on track calls for state policymakers to take the following actions:

  1. Institute a statewide campaign to build understanding and support for the importance and value of the Common Core Learning Standards.
  2. Invest in ongoing professional development to implement the Common Core.
  3. Ensure adequate state and federal funding to give all classroom teachers the tools, instructional materials, and technology they need to help all students meet the standards, including extra help for students most at risk of falling short of the standards.
  4. Reassess the state’s approach to student testing and address the most pressing concerns that parents and educators have expressed about testing.
  5. Establish an ongoing process for engaging key stakeholders in reviewing and refining implementation of the Common Core.

“Superintendents across our state overwhelmingly believe the Common Core Standards hold promise for improving the quality of education our students receive,” Executive Director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents Robert J. Reidy, Jr. said. “The actions in the five-point plan endorsed by all the state’s leading education organizations are essential to fulfilling the promise of the new standards.”

“We must focus on providing students and teachers with the time, resources and professional support they need to properly implement a deeper and richer curriculum,” Executive Vice President of New York State United Teachers Andy Pallotta said.

How do you feel about this new five-point plan that has been established? Is this a productive and effective way to meet the challenges of the Common Core Learning Standards in schools?