School Days Are Almost Here – Let’s Focus On Our Children’s Education And Safety
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
August 27, 2010
As a father and a grandfather, September still signifies the start of a new year. The air turns crisp, footballs start to fly and the last days of August are filled with those hurried trips for clothes and supplies. School seems to magically reopen just when the kids are getting antsy and parents are ready for a few moments of household peace! Everyone gets ready to embrace a brand new schedule; I remember many chaotic mornings each year in September! With children adjusting to a new and early schedule, this will invariably mean waking up late and having to run quickly to catch their bus. As you drive around town, please take a moment to remember that many of these little ones will not be used to traveling to and from school and may dart into streets and traffic. Similarly, some adults may not be used to the changing traffic conditions that come with a school-time commute. Consider leaving for work a few minutes early if you pass by a school or if you drive on a bus route. Taking special care to obey traffic laws like slowing down in school zones and stopping behind school buses when they have their lights on takes so little time and can prevent a heartbreaking tragedy. A PERFECT TIME TO DISCUSS SCHOOL SAFETY WITH YOUR CHILDREN If you are a parent, your children may be getting ready to walk or ride their bicycles to and from school, so now is a perfect time to discuss safety measures with them. Take a moment to review their commute and make sure they understand all of the traffic signs and signals along the way. Be sure to remind them to cross the street at designated intersections where crossing guards may be present. Now is also a good time to make sure your child knows his or her last name, home phone number, address, your work number and the number of another trusted adult. Teach your kids the difference between strangers and authority figures, like police officers and firemen. It’s important that, as parents, we take the time to listen carefully to their fears about people or places that make them feel frightened or uneasy. Most importantly, teach children to trust their instincts when a person or situation seems dangerous to them. ENSURING A QUALITY EDUCATION FOR OUR NEEDIEST STUDENTS We can make sure our children arrive at school safely and ready to learn, but are our schools equipped to deliver the first-class education our children need and deserve? Last week, it was announced that the new Federal Education Jobs Fund Program will provide $10 billion to support an estimated 160,000 education jobs nationwide. As part of this program, New York is expected to receive an estimated $607.6 million to support education jobs. Recruiting and keeping high-quality teachers is essential to ensuring that all New York children receive a world-class education. I have gone on the record in support of New York receiving these funds, as they will help restore critical resources to school districts throughout New York that have been negatively impacted by the economic crisis. However, although I’m glad we’re receiving this funding, I’d certainly prefer it if we had the option to allocate these resources to our neediest schools rather than applying a straight percentage across the board, which is the formula that will be applied. It is unfortunate to receive these funds and not have the opportunity to direct them specifically to our most vulnerable and underserved students throughout all of New York. CLOTHING TAX WILL DRIVE UP COST OF BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING Once again, New York’s hardworking families will be feeling the effects of the irresponsible state budget passed four months late by the Majorities in the Assembly and Senate, while back-to-school shopping for their children. To avoid the higher clothing sales tax, make sure to finish your back-to-school shopping early this year! The enacted budget includes a sales tax on clothing and footwear items costing less than $110 per item. This onerous tax is set to take effect October 1st, precisely when our school children will need new jackets, scarves and gloves for winter. Of the $810 million in taxes in this year’s budget, $330 million will come from this tax alone. That means instead of cutting costs and reducing spending, the Majorities in the Assembly and Senate voted to force overtaxed New Yorkers to take an extra $330 million out of their pockets to buy the clothing their families need. Like many of the egregious new taxes and fees passed by the Majorities, this will be hardest on those families who can least afford it. Taxing school clothes gets an F in my book! As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and informational updates regarding state government and our Assembly Minority Conference.