NYS Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch Announces Plans for Education Funds
By Judith Aquino
New York State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch shed light on plans to improve the state’s public education system, including how it will spend the nearly $770 million allotted to the state by the “Race to the Top” federal school-improvement competition.
Hosted by the Women’s City Club, Tisch explained to members and guests of the civic organization what changes lie in store for current state education standards and tests. She also spoke about the effect that the federal Race to the Top funds are expected to have on New York’s public schools.
“I hate to use the word reform, because every chancellor has a new reform that falls by the wayside,” Tisch said. “ I’d like to postulate for you that what we’re going to do is take the $770 million and we’re going to spend it on a few expensive things that will yield results in this state for generations to come.”
In accordance with the requirements of the $4 billion federal grant competition, New York will open more charter schools, said Tisch, as well as set up an evaluation system that ties teachers to students’ test scores.
“I will tell you that the teachers union came through for us in a very big way to help us design an evaluation system that will ultimately allow school districts to base 40 percent of the teachers’ yearly evaluation on student achievement,” Tisch said.
Tisch expressed her support for charter schools, although she acknowledged they were only an “option” and not a “panacea” for improving public schools.
The Regents Chancellor also said the state plans to build a statewide data system that will strengthen the accountability educational institutions have toward its students.
“We are going to allow the entire network - city universities, state universities, schools of higher education in the private sector - to talk to each other about the teachers they’re turning out and the quality of the students that their teachers are turning out,” Tisch said.
Another area where the state will spend money, Tisch said, will be on turning around low performing schools.
“If you are a schools superintendent and you come to us with a plan that says, ‘I would like to tell you how I’m going to improve these 20 schools over the course of three years,’… each one of those schools will get $2 million a year from the federal government for 3 years,” Tisch said. “The big difference here is they’re going to have to get approval for the type of work they’re going to do and I can sure assure you neither David Steiner or myself are going to sign off on mediocrity.” #