December 03, 2007

In celebration of excellence

Source: New York Teacher
Caption: From left, Sen. Antoine Thompson, Sen. Dale Volker, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Buffalo Superintendent James A. Williams, Grabiarz School Principal Michael O'Brien, Education Commissioner Richard Mills, Chancellor Robert Bennett, Vice Chancellor Meryl Tisch and New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. Photos by El-Wise Noisette.

It was a who's who of the education and political world last month at the Grabiarz School of Excellence in Buffalo as Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced approval of the Contracts for Excellence for 55 school districts around the state.

From left, Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore and NYSUT's Dick Iannuzzi listen to Regent Arnold Gardner after the governor's news conference.

Spitzer was joined by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Education Commissioner Richard Mills, Regents Chancellor Robert Bennett, other Regents board members, NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi and Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore. The contracts — for school districts representing more than 40 percent of New York's public school students — are a central part of reforms adopted this year to increase accountability, improve performance and channel funding to the state's neediest schools.

"Teachers are dedicated to implementing research-tested reforms that make a difference in the lives of children most at risk," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi.

School districts that received a 10 percent or $15 million increase in state funding and had at least one underperforming school were required to develop specific plans to show how their increased funding would be used on proven reforms like smaller class sizes or early childhood education. This year the Contracts for Excellence will detail how districts spend $428 million, of which $257.8 million is directed to New York City.

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