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Governor's Education Reform Commission holds public hearing in Utica

By GARY LIBERATORE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - There are serious issues facing the public education system in New York State, a big reason why Governor Andrew Cuomo created an Education Reform Commission.

The New NY Education Reform Commission is a 25 member Commission charged with examining the current structure of the state's education system through the lens of what is in the best interest of students.

That commission is in the middle of holding a series of public hearings to gather input from local stake holders as well as the public on actionable solutions to improve New York's public education system in order to better meet the needs of its students while also respecting the taxpayer.

On Monday, the commission held this region's public hearing at M.V.C.C..

M.V.C.C. President Dr. Randall VanWagoner was one of the first to testify in front of the commission members.

VanWagoner told the group there's a growing trend that high school graduates are not ready for college academically, "Of those students who take our placement tests right out of high school, first year students, 70 percent test below demonstrated levels to enter college level math class."

According to the state, New York spends more money per student than any other state in the nation, but ranks 39th in high school graduation rates. Only 73 percent of New York's students graduate from high school and only 37 percent are college ready.

The New NY Education Reform Commission will be tasked with exploring ways to best prepare all New York's students to be college and career ready and prepare students to become active citizens.

Education Reform Commission Chairman Richard Parsons led Monday's Public Hearing.

Parsons says a common theme at these public hearings thus far has been the belief that more focus is needed on early childhood education, "By the time a kid is 5 or 6 and is entering school, half the ballgame is over, so let's start kids sooner to bring these kids into a sort of educational and learning framework."

According to the Commission's Mission Statement, The Commission shall comprehensively review and assess New York State's education system, including its structure, operation and processes, with the goal of uncovering successful models and strategies and developing long-term efficiencies that will create significant savings while improving student achievement and providing students a high-quality education.

The Commission will explore best practices and models from other states and nations that could be implemented in New York.

The Education Reform Commission will make recommendations for improving our education system.

The Commission will study ways to strengthen teacher recruitment and performance, improve student achievement, increase parent and family engagement, use technology in the classroom, help high-need and low-wealth school communities, and manage educational funding and costs.

Parsons says after all the hearings are over in October, the Commission will create a report for the Governor by the end of this year, and will have suggestions on reform sometime in 2013.

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