Assemblymembers from both parties rallied in front of the Nassau County Legislative Office Building on Sunday to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase education spending, temper plans to focus teacher evaluations on test results and end state control of struggling schools.
Eleven assemblymembers, including Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square), Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck) and Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove, joined with community organizations to denounce the governor’s proposals.
Last week, the governor and legislative leaders announced a $1.4 billion increase in state education aid for the 2015-16 fiscal year, about $400 million less than the Assembly proposed in its one-house budget and $600 million less than the New York Stat Board of Regents recommended, according to a release from the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
“When it comes to funding we are looking for at least a $1.8 billion school aid increase,” Ra said in a release.
Cuomo has also proposed basing half of a teacher’s evaluation on standardized test results and having the state assume control of struggling schools.
The release said that the state controlled Roosevelt schools for 11 years, before returning local control in 2013.
“In the Assembly we are fighting for a $1.8 billion school aid increase and against the overuse and misuse of testing as well as against the governor’s proposal to replace local school boards with a state receiver in underperforming local schools,” Lavine said in a statement. “We will all be better off when the day comes that those of us who have benefitted from public education fight for and support public education in the same way as those who have benefitted from private education.”
Barbara Hafner, a sixth-grade math and social studies teacher at West Hempstead, echoed the calls of the legislators.
“[Long Island] schools are renowned for their quality because we focus on teaching – not testing – and because we battle for the programs and resources our students need to succeed,” she said. “I am proud to stand with Long Island’s Assembly delegation in support of a sound education budget that rejects the governor’s ‘test and punish’ agenda, and other so-called ‘reforms’ that would harm Long Island’s schools, its teachers and, most importantly, students.”
Representatives from the Alliance for Quality Education, the Working Families Party, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change and New York State United Teachers also attended the rally.
The state Legislature has until April 1 to pass an on-time budget.
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