Astorino Releases 15-Point Education Plan

NY GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino released his 15-point education plan this week.

Astorino’s Plan (press release from his campaign):

1. Stop Common Core and replace with better standards and curriculum developed by New York educators, with feedback and input from local teachers and parents, and greater control at the district level (one model could be the “Lost Standards” that were being developed by former Regent Saul Cohen’s team from 2008-2010 before being scrapped in favor of Common Core and the federal money that came with it). Main reasons for Common Core opposition:

– The standards are experimental, conceived in secrecy with no public hearings on the draft standards, and never tested.

– Few, if any, K-12 teachers were involved in writing the standards.

– It is considered by many to be developmentally inappropriate in the early grades and not based on well-researched child development knowledge.

– It is education guided at the federal level – not the state and local level.

– It actually lowers standards according to many experts, including Dr. James Milgrim and Dr. Sandra Stosky – the two content experts on the Common Core validation committee who refused to affirm the standards.

2. Develop more accurate measures of student, teacher and school performance, reducing reliance on high stakes assessments, with a more balanced, portfolio approach.

3. Reform Board of Regents by creating an elected 13-member board (regional districts electing their own representative to the Board).

4. Governor appoints Education Commissioner who must be confirmed by the Board of Regents with a majority vote.

This reform would shift more responsibility for education to the Governor who is accountable to voters every four years. His or her pick for Education Commissioner would work with the Board of Regents to determine education policy in NYS.

5. Increase availability of vocational training in schools for careers in home economics, carpentry, mechanics, electrical, etc.

6. Increase coordination between community colleges, local school districts and local industry so students can be properly counseled on the present and future availability of jobs, the types of jobs, their pay and benefits, and the skills needed to do these jobs.

7. Increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in schools.

There is a gap in the growing number of hi-tech jobs and careers and the number of Americans qualified and trained to do these jobs. To solve this, there needs to be a greater emphasis on STEM in schools.

8. Create three new diplomas

– Career and Technical Education (CTE)

– STEM Regents

– Academic Regents

Offering more choices to students and parents will better capture a young adult’s motivation in addition to his or her talents and interests.

9. Ensure full funding for special education services

10. Increase life skills training in schools

– Nutritional literacy instruction in Middle School

– Financial literacy instruction in High School

11. Provide more school choices for parents of children in schools determined to be failing.

Once accurate measures of school performance are determined allow parents in schools that have failed for consecutive years other school options for their child. Options can be a different public school or Charter school. Last option could be voucher to be used for private or religious school.

12. Pass the Education Investment Tax Credit.

13. Create a new marketing campaign to encourage greater parental involvement in their child’s education.

Teachers say the best students are the ones with the most involved parent(s). Greater parental or guardian involvement needs to be encouraged.

14. Combat the problem of chronic absenteeism in New York schools.

15. Begin foreign language instruction in elementary school.

While mastering the English language will remain the priority, study of a foreign language is a critical step in building a well-rounded student.