Cuomo calls for a ‘soup to nuts’ review of educational issues.
On April 30 Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order #44, establishing a 25 voting member “New NY Education Reform Commission” to be chaired by the retired chairman of Citigroup, Robert Parsons.
Once again the need for “reform” comes into play. Why? E.J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and its Albany based Empire Center for New York State Policy predicts that when U.S. Census Bureau releases its rundown of K-12 public education expenditures, New York will once again rank at or near the top of the heap, as it has for decades. How bad? In 2009, average school spending of $18,126 per pupil was 73 percent above the national average. Cuomo, in an opinion expressed with the issuance of the Executive Order, attributed some of the problems to 700 public school districts, each with “its own administration and back-office functions, creating duplication, waste and inefficiencies” that are no longer sustainable.
We all have our own views of why spending is so high and results considered well below expectations. The governor now suggests (yet another commission) is capable of “assessing New York state’s education system, including its structure, operation and processes, with the goal of uncovering successful models and strategies and developing long-term efficiencies that will create significant savings while improving student achievement and providing students with a high-quality education.” As such, under “Duties and Purpose” the commission will study teacher recruitment and performance, analyze factors that support student achievement, evaluate education funding, distribution of state aid and operating costs, study how to increase parent and family engagement, examine issues faced by high-need urban and rural school districts and analyze the availability and best use of technology.
And, last but not least, examine the overall structure of our state’s educational system to determine whether it meets the needs of students while respecting the taxpayer etc.
The executive order, which does not require any action by the state legislature, concludes with the expectation that the commission will submit preliminary recommendations to the governor by December 1, 2012 and final recommendations by September 1, 2013.
As you might anticipate I’m not at all enthralled by this litany of expectations. Why? Commissions’ whether it be the Bowles-Simpson Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FICA- investigating the causes of the fiscal crisis of 2007-2010) or, the governor’s Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission are nothing more than investigative entities with little, if any, ability to influence on real change.
The road to reform still remains substantially unpaved. Problems of this magnitude need to be resolved with more immediacy and realistic achievement in mind. I hope you agree.