After the release of the New York Education Reform Commission’s final report, two area superintendents reflected on what can be done locally and across New York to improve public education and make better use of financial resources.
The 25-member commission, appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2012, released its findings Tuesday, suggesting ways to improve education in the state. A week earlier, Cuomo endorsed several of its suggestions during his State of the State address.
The same day the report was released, hundreds of students and teachers flocked to the Capitol to ask the governor for more school funding.
The commission’s top recommendations were to expand pre-kindergarten, upgrade classroom technology, and reward top teachers. Cuomo said these steps are essential in providing New York children with the best education, and that he looked forward to putting the recommendations to work in the future.
Unadilla Valley Central School Superintendent Robert Mackey said that while he believes these are great concepts, he does not believe they alone will have the desired impact. To bring about the kind of change the government wants to see in education, Mackey said, there needs to be a collaborative effort among parents, care providers, government leaders and educators to shift the focus to intensive early intervention for children aged 1 to 8.
“Especially in rural or poverty-stricken areas, research shows that providing children in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade and their parents with intensive, family-based literature and learning services is highly effective,” Mackey said. “Children ages 1-8 need to be worked with to develop key motor, communication and vocabulary skills, and these programs will provide a model for parents to follow, in order to help them give their children a solid, skill-based foundation in the home.”
Mackey said, this way, students will be foundationally ready and capable to learn once they reach older grades. He said this will prevent the need for special education and intervention later on.