Letter to the Editor on Education Reform

September 7, 2012

To the Editor:

Governor Cuomoís New NY Education Reform Commission has been tasked with evaluating ways to improve our public education system in New York. As one of the priciest, but not always highest performing states, our public schools and our public are being underserved by an outdated system with a price tag that continues to grow exponentially while maintaining stable performance ratings in many districts that are not keeping pace with other similar states.

I believe that in order for New York to get back to the head of the class in education nationally and internationally, we need to make some deep changes to the way we pay for schools, and the way that they are currently organized.

Over the past few years, I have been speaking with my constituents as well as experts in New York State about options that may help us avoid pitting taxpayer groups against parents and school districts. As property taxes have soared and many older people can no longer afford to stay in their homes even when mortgages are paid off, I have been investigating alternatives to how we fund schools, as well as other mandates which drive the cost of education up, without necessarily buying us any more in the classroom.

On Monday, September 10th, the Governorís education commission is holding a public hearing for the Hudson Valley region in Newburgh, NY. I will be presenting testimony which encompasses such areas for serious consideration as: the Wicks Law; property reassessments; regional negotiations; allowing teachers the ability to transfer between schools for professional growth; BOCES consolidation of back-office services such as payroll, purchasing, and personnel management; school district reorganization; statewide health insurance for all educators; health contributions that could be tiered based on salary; funding for Charter Schools to come from a separate budget that does not impact local school district revenues; and, a combination of property and local income tax to fund schools available as a local option. My full testimony will be posted to the Governorís website on the Commissionís page after the hearing on Monday. These areas are ones that I have either introduced legislation to address, or alternately have discussed at town meetings with constituents, school boards, and taxpayer groups.

I look forward to making progress on this issue and encourage others as well to convey their suggestions for educational reform to the Commission through its website.

Sandy Galef
Assemblywoman, 90th A.D.
(914) 941-1111

Please click here to see testimony.