May 01, 2010

Commissioner welcomed to first RA

Source: RA 2010
State Education Commissioner David Steiner

State Education Commissioner David Steiner

Visiting schools from Malone to Middletown to Watkins Glen, State Education Commissioner David Steiner has found himself "humbled into silence by the sheer enormity of what you face every day," he told RA delegates Friday.

Making his first appearance at a NYSUT convention, Steiner thanked educators for their day-to-day dedication and assured them he shares many of the same goals. "We are in this together," Steiner said. "I salute you all."

Steiner, who became Education Commissioner in October, told delegates he, too, is frustrated by the on-going budget difficulties. "I wish we could cut through the politics," Steiner said. "Cutting support to education is simply stupid. … You're going to cut the one thing everyone agrees is absolutely essential? It doesn't add up."

Steiner, who was previously dean of the School of Education at Hunter College, said all the research shows that when it comes to education, nothing matters more than teacher quality. That's why his top priority will be providing every teacher the preparation, professional development and resources they need.

"You know the tensions first-hand … too little help, no time to prepare the lessons you want to teach," Steiner said. He said in Hong Kong, 50 percent of a teacher's time is spent collaborating with other teachers. "You have far too little time to communicate, with both colleagues and parents."

Steiner also called for improved assessments, rather than a system dominated by bubble tests. "I wonder what it is that makes us distrust (grading) by a human being … and prefer to give it to a computer?" he asked. "We have a lot of hard work ahead of us."