In New York City last year, the public high school graduation rate was a tragic 68%. Only about 29% of students in grades three through eight tested proficient in reading. And only 34% were found to be proficient in math.
Yet only about 1% of teachers were found to be ineffective in their evaluations.
In their hearts, parents, students, teachers, administrators, union heads and politicians must know this disparity doesn't make sense. If only 1% of the city's teachers were ineffective, a lot more of the city's students would be prepared for college or a career by the city's schools.
With the state budget due to be passed by April 1, it is the season for rallies for and against charter schools, and for and against the education status quo. City schools seek more state money to face plentiful challenges, but suburban schools want the cash make up for recession budget cuts that were never restored.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered to increase school funding statewide by $1.1 billion if the State Legislature will approve teacher evaluations based more on student test scores, but by only $377 million if it does not. Cuomo is willing to increase the funding, but in exchange, he is demanding an evaluation system that truly identifies teachers who need to be retrained or fired.
Monday the Assembly, which is heavily influenced by teachers unions, called in its budget for a $1.8-billion increase for education, dwarfing Cuomo's top offer.
But the Assembly is balking on tougher evaluations, even while it's all but impossible to get rid of teachers even when they prove themselves incompetent or immoral.
In 2014, only 306 proceedings to remove teachers for incompetence or misbehavior -- known as 3020a cases -- were brought by the city school system, a 25% reduction from the previous year. Is anyone really supposed to believe that the system can get better when so few teachers, out of about 75,000, are even brought up for dismissal?
Our schools need dollars, but they also need change. That's what the fight in Albany is all about. Why send the schools more money if everything remains the same?