It’s time for New York State to make the course corrections needed to help our students succeed.
That was the message NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi delivered today as part of a wide-ranging panel discussion by education leaders on the implications for students of the state tax cap and the Regents’ reform agenda. The panel discussion took place at the fall conference of the Long Island Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development in Melville. Iannuzzi spoke of the "implementation gap" in the state’s roll-out of Regents’ reforms, including a timetable that required new tests to be administered before teachers and students had time to cover new, more rigorous curriculum. He explained that as an elementary school teacher for 34 years, he prioritized learning ahead of testing, and “even if I’d planned a test on Friday, the number one priority was to be sure we had covered the material. If we needed more time, then the test got moved.”
Even the best of lesson plans need to be continually adapted to student needs, he said, and “you don’t test what hasn’t been taught” or the result is meaningless data.
To get implementation right, he said, the state should institute a three-year moratorium on high stakes consequences from the standardized tests.
New York State got it backwards, he said, which was especially painful coming at a time when districts were laying off teachers and increasing class sizes to cope with state aid cuts and the undemocratic tax cap. Iannuzzi was clear about the tax cap, which unfairly requires a 60 percent super-majority to approve increased investments above the cap in public schools.
“The idea shouldn't be, how do we work around a bad law. It should be: how do we change a bad law imposing an undemocratic tax cap.” He noted the irony that poll after poll shows the public continues to be steadfast in supporting increased investment in public education — a commitment undermined by the state's tax cap.