With his 2012-2013 Executive Budget proposal, it appears that Governor Cuomo is taking reform of New York’s education system seriously. By tying funding to local school districts to teacher evaluations, Governor Cuomo is doing more than merely throwing money at the schools to fix problems.
While this is a new approach for New York State, it is only the beginning. Besides creating an education system that stresses accountability and rewards skilled teachers while removing wasteful spending and teachers who fail to meet evaluation standards, there is work that can be done right at home to ensure our children receive the quality education they deserve.
It is unfair to lay all the problems in the education system at the feet of teachers. Many are overworked, devoting a great deal of time and personal resources to creating a classroom that makes school both interesting and informative for students. Many struggle daily to reach uninvolved parents and communicate with students that can best be described as “disinterested.”
An educator is only one part of a larger community that makes learning possible. Without greater participation from both parents and students, our schools cannot function properly. For parents, this means more involvement: joining the PTA or attending a school-board meeting. At the very least, be attentive to the educational needs and progress of your children. Parents should show a willingness to assist with homework issues and pay attention to what materials their children find difficult or show a knack for.
For students, your first task should be to show up ready to learn, studying, doing your assigned work, and having the necessary materials for that day. It also means being active in your school. You don’t have to join a club or sports team, although that is one way to get involved. Just being respectful of others and their right to learn, while participating in class discussions and being attentive, makes you an active person in your school community.
No matter how hard a teacher works to foster an atmosphere that makes learning possible, a student still has a responsibility to teachers and classmates, and parents need to create an environment that stresses the virtues of a quality education. While we begin the budget hearings and discuss greater accountability in our schools, we should remember that accountability should start at home as well.