Thursday, May 31, 2007

The real priorities of this administration are now clear

from Dorothy Giglio, long-time parent leader and President of Region 6, High School Presidents Council:

I have just received my 3rd or 4th robo call about turning in the parent survey. I lost count. If they put that much effort into advising principals that their School Leadership Team has to have consensus, or that Parent Associations have to be part of the school budget decisions, then maybe the system would be working without parents constantly on the offensive. I would even be pleased if they sent out that many notices to attend parent-teacher conferences.

Well we know where the priorities are. Between the $ 80 million dollars going to the interim assessments, and another $80 million for the supercomputer ARIS, with top level salaries totaling in the millions, and who knows what other wasteful contracts there are, we can now see where the Campaign for Fiscal Equity money will go. We fought so hard and yet I predicted that if the state did not put rules on the use of these funds this would happen -- and sadly once again I was correct.

Instead, the money could put toward more Art, Music, Drama, Science (not just test prep but real learning) ; a really solid enrichment program (as we had in my district until the regions took over) which includes off site visits to museums, with classroom instruction before and after.

This type of enrichment could have been expanded to more children. Also, the creation of some programs for those kids that will never be able to get a Regents diploma and have no desire to go to college -- so they can use the talents they do have and get a diploma, instead of becoming a drop out statistic (or non-statistic with all the manipulation of the data.) They could get some form of job training that can afford them real opportunities in life thus building a real future for them.

I will say, however, on behalf of lower class size, I have had three sons go through the system. The youngest is a junior in high school; the other two have graduated college and in every, every instance when they were lucky enough to have a class of 25 or less, especially in Junior High school or high school, they did extraordinarily better than when their classes were 30 or more.

Even in college, my older ones have said that they did so much better in college because they had classes of 10. Teachers can get to know their students, their strengths and weaknesses. Students can build a rapport with the teacher. More than any other single change, lowering the class sizes, notwithstanding a good teacher, a mediocre teacher, a new teacher, a seasoned teacher, would raise the level of education for each child.

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