Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New York Schools Plan For The Future

New York Schools encompass two different worlds: New York City and New York State. Assessments of the two are generally separate since the thriving metropolis of New York City is a different world from the New York Schools that make up the rest of this rural and suburban state.

Johanna Duncan-Poitier, recently named senior Deputy Commissioner of Education
P-16, recently revealed the Board of Regent's plan for the New York Schools outside of the city limits. While these New York Schools retain a national reputation for excellence, they still face challenges in educating the vast and diverse students in its many districts. Duncan-Poitier announced an unprecedented $1.7 billion budget that New York Schools will use to improve graduation rates, raise learning standards and increase accountability.

Among the issues that New York Schools are dealing with are: charter schools, time for instruction and inequity in learning. The last, a learning imbalance, seems to occur during the middle school years. 70% of New York Schools' fourth grade students passed the reading and writing exams, while only 48% of eighth graders passed. This challenge is compounded by the gap black and Hispanic children face in reaching similar achievement goals.

One way some New York Schools addressed this challenge was by extending the length of the school day in 2006. Their results will determine whether other schools follow suit.

New York Schools also struggle with the success of its charter schools. Since implementing the charter school concept in 1999 New York Schools have debated their success. Success or failure of charter schools is highly individual. Some New York Schools in the charter system boast success and have waiting lists of children hoping to enroll. Other educators in the New York Schools argue that the success of these charters rests partially in the fact that they take fewer disabled, non-English speaking and poor students. These are all factors that negatively impact a student's success in school.

Charter Schools were first established to give New York Schools' students choice with out the private school price tag. It's also beneficial for New York Schools to keep students enrolled in the system, since schools receive tax dollars on a per pupil basis. Many parents and educators don't like the charter school concept because they feel it dilutes the positive effects of New York Schools by removing the most involved parents from the public school setting.

The P-16 Plan introduced this month is based on findings of the most recent report card for New York Schools. Initiatives designed to go into effect in the fall bear the burden of maintaining the reputation of New York Schools as some of the best in the county.

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