Education: The Great Equalizer

TOP Education: The Great Equalizer
Teacher Incentives

Pay full SUNY or CUNY tuition for the top graduate program candidates who commit to teaching in New York for at least five years

In order to improve the quality of teaching, we must attract the best candidates and elevate respect for the profession. We know that that the single most important in-school factor for a child’s education is a high-quality teacher. We must ensure that our kids have the best teachers they deserve. To incent our highest-achieving students to pursue teaching as a profession, the Governor proposes providing full scholarships for SUNY and CUNY graduate education programs for the top candidates who are New York residents and agree to teach in New York for five years following completion of their degrees.

To invest in the teaching profession, create a residency program for teachers

Too many teachers enter classrooms at the start of their careers with inadequate practical experience teaching children. A new teacher will have completed coursework focused on education theory but often lacks the skills and experience required to hit the ground running. Good teachers are developed over time and require intensive clinical supervision.

The Governor will create the New York Teacher Residency (NYTR) program – a statewide teacher residency model that will integrate graduate teacher education programs with rich practical classroom experience. The NYTR will weave together Masters coursework with a full year of supervised residency in an eligible school, akin to what we provide to doctors in training.

Create a $20 million Teacher Excellence Fund to support top teachers

Governor Cuomo will launch a $20 million Teacher Excellence Fund that will encourage excellent teachers to continue to teach in the classrooms where they are needed the most. Highly effective teachers will be eligible for up to $20,000 in annual supplemental compensation through the Teacher Excellence Fund. Eligibility for the Fund will require agreement of both the school district and teachers’ union. Districts will be chosen to participate based on factors that include whether the incentives are designed to encourage highly effective teachers to work in struggling schools.

Teacher Evaluations
Teacher Evaluations

Strengthen teacher evaluations

Last year, less than one percent of teachers in New York State were rated ineffective, yet our students still lag behind in performance. We need a strong teacher evaluation system that can help school leaders recognize and reward outstanding teachers and identify those who need help to improve.

The Governor proposes changes to the teacher evaluation system to ensure that teachers are recognized and treated as professional people whose skills, strengths and weaknesses are not all interchangeable. To ensure that our teacher evaluation system is real, accurate and fair, Governor Cuomo proposes a series of reforms to simplify and standardize the system:

  1. Instead of two student growth measures, we will eliminate the local measure. In the new system, fifty percent of the score will be based on state tests, or, in the case of teachers in non-tested grades or subjects, a student growth measure that measures one year of academic growth.
  2. The remaining fifty percent of the score will be determined by rigorous observations of the educator in action; of this, thirty-five points will be determined by independent observations and fifteen points will be determined by supervisor observations.
  3. The scoring bands currently used in the tallying of summative ratings vary across the State. Districts set their own cut offs and the 100 point scale encourages backing into a result. We will set the scoring bands for both the student growth measure and the observation portion of the score at the state level.
  4. The law will also state that if a teacher is rated Ineffective in either portion of the score, he or she cannot receive a rating of Effective or Highly Effective.
  5. We propose tenure to be only granted when a teacher achieves five consecutive years of effective ratings.
Transform Failing Schools
Transform Failing Schools

Implement the Massachusetts Model in New York to transform failing schools

Across New York State, more than 100,000 students are sitting in 178 “priority schools,” defined as schools that (i) are in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide, based on combined ELA and math scores, and are not showing progress in test performance or (ii) have graduation rates that are below 60 percent for the last three years. 77 of these schools have been failing for nearly a decade and 27 have been in the lowest level of accountability status for nearly a decade. Estimates are that at least 250,000 students were enrolled in these 77 schools since they’ve been failing; the bottom 27 schools enrolled at least 64,000.

To ensure that the most chronically underperforming schools in the state improve at a faster rate, the Governor proposes legislation modeled after the Massachusetts education receivership model. When a school fails for three years, a nonprofit, another school district, or a turnaround expert must take over the school. That entity will have the authority to:

  • Overhaul the curriculum.
  • Override agreements to terminate underperforming staff.
  • Provide salary incentives to recruit high-performing educators.
  • Obtain priority over Pre-K, extended learning time, community schools, Early College High Schools, and other State grant programs.

Give students in failing schools a preference

To provide students in failing schools with additional options in the short-term the Governor will create a preference in the charter school lottery for such students.

Make it easier, fairer and faster to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom

The current teacher discipline and termination system, commonly known as 3020-a hearings, is broken. The hearings are costly and time-consuming for districts, and allow arbitrators to overrule administrators’ determinations of competency and of appropriate remedies. Administrators take on protracted battles that they may or may not win, at great cost to themselves and their school communities, in attempting to eliminate ineffective and incompetent educators in their buildings. The Governor proposes a series of reforms to 3020-a hearings to streamline the hearing process, shift the presumptions, and strengthen evidentiary standards, including:

Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Education

Maintain investment in statewide universal pre-K for 4-year olds

The State currently spends over $750 million on public pre-K programs for four-year olds, serving over 116,000 students statewide. Governor Cuomo is committing $365 million in funding for full-day four-year old programs for the 2015-2016 school year.

Invest $25 million in pre-K programs for 3-year olds in high needs districts

Early learning can bridge the achievement gap and provide benefits not only in life’s earliest stages but also in the long term. Studies show that children who participate in high quality early childhood education programs have higher cognitive test scores through age 21, higher academic achievement in both reading and math and were more likely to attend a four-year college and be gainfully employed.

This year, Governor Cuomo will build on our successful investment in four-year-olds by expanding pre-K to three-year-olds in targeted high-need districts. We know that quality learning experiences must start even earlier for children with the greatest needs, and that is why the State will invest $25 million to support new, high quality half-day and full-day pre-k programs for three-year-olds in districts that develop a plan to deliver these services in areas where it can be most beneficial in increasing academic outcomes for students and communities.


Charter Schools
Charter Schools

Add another 100 slots to the charter cap and remove the regional limits

Under current law, the number of charters in New York is capped at 460 and New York City currently has only 24 charters remaining under the cap. In an effort to continue to provide families and students throughout the state with choice and to break down barriers that limit where charter schools can open, the Governor proposes that we increase the cap by 100 and make the overall cap statewide instead of artificially restricting it by region.

Propose “anti-creaming” legislation to ensure that charters are providing opportunities for high-needs populations

To ensure that charter school student populations reflect the communities that they serve, we will create an “anti-creaming” provision in law that requires charters to submit enrollment rates to SED for Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) students, English Language Learners and students with disabilities multiple times per year during the five-year period in between reauthorizations so the State can better track both enrollment and retention of these students.

Youth Mentoring Commission
Youth Mentoring Commission

In 1987, Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo chaired a committee that established the nation’s first school-based one-to-one mentoring program, the New York State Mentoring Program. This highly successful program screened and trained volunteers and matched them to children in their communities as a way to prevent high school drop-out. Before the program ended in 1995, it successfully connected thousands of our neediest students to a network of highly trained mentors to succeed in school and graduate.

Governor Cuomo will reestablish the State’s commitment to mentoring with the creation of the New York Youth Mentoring Commission, to be chaired pro bono, by Mrs. Cuomo. She will work with private sector and nonprofit partners to identify a cadre of mentors to work with foster children, children in high-need communities and other children in need. This program will allow us to leverage the talent in our communities to guide our kids toward successful outcomes.

Quality Education for All
Quality Education for All

Pass the $100 million Education Tax Credit for public and private scholarships to promote choice in education –and pass the DREAM Act, with $27 million in this year’s budget to make it a reality

To support private investments from individuals and businesses in educational programs that provide families with choices for their students, Governor Cuomo proposes to create the Education Tax Credit which will allow taxpayers to claim a tax credit for eligible contributions to public schools, school improvement organizations, local education funds and educational scholarship organizations.

Throughout our nation’s history, New York has served as a beacon for immigrants: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the New York City harbor serve as symbols of the central role that the state has played in welcoming immigrants and honoring their contribution to our culture and economy. The Governor strongly believes that the state should continue this tradition by supporting the New York State DREAM Act, which will support the advancement of undocumented immigrants by enabling them to apply for state college tuition assistance.

Extend mayoral control in New York City and consider the possibility in other cities

New York City has had mayoral control over its public school system since 2002 and it expires in 2015. Governor Cuomo will extend mayoral control in New York City for three years and will consider applications for mayoral control from other cities across the state.

Increase in state aid if reforms succeed

Pursuant to the existing formula, State aid to education is scheduled to increase this year by 1.7 percent, or $377 million. The Governor has proposed a bold reform agenda to transform New York’s education system into the best in the nation. These reforms must be in place to ensure that public funding is invested in ways that benefit our children. If the legislature passes these reforms, Governor Cuomo will propose an increase in State support to the highest level ever – an increase of 4.8 percent, or $1.1 billion.