The Education Trust–New York comments on State of the State agenda and Executive Budget
Improving access to critical courses, reducing suspensions, and improving teacher diversity among the promising proposals
The following can be attributed to Ian Rosenblum, Executive Director of The Education Trust–New York:
“Governor Cuomo’s State of the State agenda and Executive Budget advance several important policies that will improve equity and educational justice in New York’s education system.”
Improving Access to Advanced Courses
“Governor Cuomo’s goal that every student will be able to earn college credit or workforce experience by the time this year’s sixth graders graduate from high school is a powerful statement of New York’s vision for our education system. The Executive Budget also takes important steps towards making that goal a reality by continuing to expand access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, closing the fee waiver gap so more high school students can afford to earn college credit, continuing to invest in the highly promising Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program, increasing opportunities for students to pursue Computer Science, and recruiting Master Teachers to focus on expanding access to advanced courses for under-served students.”
Across New York State, White students were given nearly twice as much access as their Latino and Black peers to a range of key gatekeeper and advanced courses in middle and high school in the 2016-17 school year. They were nearly three times as likely to be enrolled in advanced courses like Advanced Placement Math and Science. Source: The New York Equity Coalition, Within Our Reach.
Reducing Suspensions and Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline
“Schools must take steps to support all students in the classroom, not push them out of it. Implementing restorative practices requires training and support, and we are grateful that the Executive Budget invests $3 million for this purpose. We must also strengthen laws and regulations to better protect students. The Governor’s call to expand the state’s Human Rights Law to protect public school students is one essential reform, especially since President Trump’s administration has abandoned key civil rights enforcement in this area. We are also hopeful for additional systemic reforms to stop suspension abuse this legislative session, including but not limited to enactment of the Safe and Supportive Schools Act legislation.”
New York schools suspended a student at least once every minute during the 2016-17 school year. That year, New York State’s education system suspended Black students at more than four times the rate of White students outside of New York City and more than five times the rate of White students in New York City. Source: The New York Equity Coalition, Stolen Time.
Investing in Student Success
“Schools that serve students with greater needs require significantly greater funding than other schools. There are three parts to this puzzle: whether a school district’s overall level of funding from state and local sources is adequate to provide a quality education; whether the school district is directing the most resources to the schools with the greatest needs; and whether schools are spending the money effectively. All three parts are important to understand whether schools are receiving the resources they need to help students succeed. Last year’s budget represented a major step forward in improving transparency on school budgets, and we look forward to reviewing the details of this year’s proposal to ‘ensure the State’s most underfunded high-need schools receive additional funding.’ We also look forward to carefully analyzing the School Aid proposal in this year’s budget and to the importance of additional resources throughout the legislative process.”
New York’s largest school districts are frequently failing to provide their highest-need schools with significantly greater levels of resources so that all students receive the support they need to succeed. EdTrust–NY’s analysis of how Big 5 school districts planned to distribute state and local funding between the schools that serve the smallest share of low-income students compared to the schools serving the highest share of low-income students in each district found relatively little difference in budgeted per-pupil funding levels. Source: The Education Trust–New York, NYSchoolFunding.org data tool (preliminary data).
Improving Teacher Diversity
“All students deserve access to strong, well-supported, and diverse teachers. Programs that begin in K-12 and build partnerships between school districts and higher education to recruit and support diverse teaching candidates are a proven strategy that benefits students and schools. We are encouraged by the Governor’s investment in this important area in the Executive Budget through the ‘We Teach NY’ program. We also commend the Governor for focusing on educator diversity in higher education.”
One-third of all New York schools had no Black or Latino teachers in the 2015-16 school year. As a result, more than 115,000 Latino and Black students were enrolled in schools without a single full-time same-race/ethnicity teacher, and nearly half of the state’s White students attended schools without a single full-time Latino or Black teacher. Source: The Education Trust–New York, See Our Truth.
“The truth is that New York’s teacher evaluation system has essentially been on hold since 2015. Meanwhile, we know that teachers are still the most important in-school determinant of student success. We hope that the Governor and Legislature will now focus on solutions for how to ensure that all students – and especially those who have been historically under-served by our education system – have access to strong teachers and school leaders. The State Education Department has also spent months convening educators and other stakeholders to develop recommendations for a new teacher evaluation system, and we believe their work should be respected and could generate useful ideas for the future.”
“Black and Hispanic students [are] more than ten times as likely as White students to be placed with a teacher who received a rating of Ineffective. [English Language Learner] students are twice as likely, and students with disabilities are nearly twice as likely, to be placed with a teacher who received a rating of Ineffective, compared to their counterparts.” Source: New York State Education Department, Approved New York State ESSA Plan.
College Access, Affordability and Completion
“We are excited that 2019 is poised to be the year that New York’s DREAM Act is finally enacted into law, helping more New Yorkers afford college. We also applaud the Governor for including key measures in the Executive Budget to protect student loan borrowers, improve for-profit college accountability, and end abuses in the industry that harm students and communities.”
Between 2016 and 2017 the amount of student loan debt New Yorkers collectively owed increased from more than $86 billion to over $90 billion. The problem was particularly acute in communities with average household income under $50,000, where the total inflation-adjusted debt burden increased by 44 percent in just six years and with average delinquency rates that far exceed that of wealthier communities. Source: The Education Trust–New York, Drowning in Debt.