Representative Dan Maffei has joined the discussion on education reform by releasing his new plan for strengthening education in Central New York. Also in attendance were local education leaders including the Syracuse Teachers Association President, a transfer counselor from Cayuga Community College and the Vice President of the Syracuse University Student Association.
Maffei expressed frustration with national education mandates saying, “We do need strong national education policy…but that we also need to make sure that local school districts have a huge amount of say in what happens in their school districts because each school district is different, each school is different, and each child is different. And right now it’s too one size fits all.”
While Maffei is supportive of the state education department he says teachers need more time to understand the new standards to be able to teach their students properly. To test students on materials they have not learned yet “sets up educators for failure” says Syracuse Teachers Association President Kevin Ahern. He says teachers have been unfairly blamed for the failures within the education system, and they need to have access to resources so they can effectively teach their students.
The issue of funding education was also brought up: it is a problem that ranges from pre-school all the way to college. The Director of Head Start Programs at Cayuga-Seneca Action Agency says she sees many local communities struggling to provide funding for Pre-K education due to budget cuts.
She urges everyone involved “to get serious about early childhood education. We have to make it a priority to provide resources to these critical programs if we want kids to succeed in elementary school to college and beyond.”
One strategy many students use to save on college costs is to attend a community college or vocational school. But Cayuga Community College Transfer Counselor Eric Zizza says sometimes student's success gets mislabeled.
For some students who do choose a four year institution paying back loans influences their choices in jobs. Syracuse University Student Association Vice President Duane Ford shares his own experience.
Maffei’s educational plan is based on the responses from educators, administrators, parents, and students via surveys and numerous discussions. He highlights six keys to success:
1) Providing support and reasonable timelines for educators
2) Community support and involvement
3) Investing in Pre-K
4) Investments in school infrastructure to support curriculum
5) Career track and vocational training
6) Making higher education affordable
A complete version of Maffei's plan can be found by clicking here.