Google Analytics

by Jay Gallagher

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How far will these education reforms get?

The state’s new education commissioner, David Steiner, sounds like he wants to lead significant change in the state’s schools, although some doubt whether he will get very far.
“We have not taken responsibility for a coherent view of education,’’ the former dean of the Hunter College School of Education who took over as the state’s top education official last October, said at a forum today. “We have a lot of difficult thinking to do.’’
As he has been doing for the past few months, Steiner today called for a statewide curriculum that he said would help answer the question, “What is an educated citizen?’’ Now local districts decide much of what is taught is classrooms.
Steiner told a group at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany that the state has been leaning too heavily on measuring outcomes - meaning test scores - and hasn’t paid enough attention to the content of what children learn, or on the training of teachers to improve interactions in the classroom.
“We deeply believe in this country in measuring,’’ said Steiner, who was born in New York but was educated largely in the United Kingdom. “So we will not look at anything we can’t measure.’’
When asked how he plans to implement his curriculum ideas, Steiner said it would be a long, difficult battle and that all sides need to be consulted.
One observer noted afterwards that someone with more of a management background than Steiner’s might have been in a better position to push for such changes.
Steiner barely mentioned, beyond saying he knows it’s a problem, the fiscal woes facing the state’s public schools. Gov. David Paterson has proposed cutting state aid by about $1 billion next year, or 5 percent. Many of the state’s more than 700 school districts have warned of sharp cuts in services or big tax hikes unless the Legislature restores the money. Lawmakers are supposed to make a decision by April 1.
“I am deeply aware of the massive budgetary challenges,’’ Steiner said, without detailing how he thinks they ought to be met.

No comments: