Back to School: Six Points About Public Education

Back to School: Six Points About Public Education

Back to School: Six Points About Public Education
School is back in session and the possibilities for enriching our children’s lives are endless. Long Island has some of the best public schools in the country and they constantly strive to improve. Listed below are six points to celebrate, consider and build upon:
1.   My home school district, Roslyn, where I am in my eighth year as a school board trustee, has delivered (during my tenure) the lowest tax levy increase of any K-12 school district in Nassau County. The average has been just a touch over 1%. In fact we have been below the tax cap before there was even a tax cap! When the school’s administration and the school board are able to work collaboratively to find creative solutions to generate revenue and stretch every taxpayer dollar, quality public education is the result.
2.   Because Long Island public schools have 17% of the state’s students, yet receive only 12% of NYS funding dollars, the tax cap is a necessary blunt instrument used to keep our sky-high property taxes in check. NYS must back-fill the funding needed to provide the quality public education the community has come to expect and deserves. The current Long Island student-funding ratio just isn’t fair.
3.   NYC has Universal Pre-K for every student, yet we barely have any here on Long Island. Why is this allowed? Long Island children are just as important and deserving of this opportunity.
4.   In the 7th NYS Senate district, where I am running in an open election this November 8th, there is significant need for additional government funding. For example, the Westbury Public School District has had a jump in enrollment of 32% between 2007 and 2015, rising from 3,772 students to 4,992. The NYS Constitution provides for quality public education for all students. Both state and federal government entities need to provide the funding to educate all of Westbury’s students, and not burden Westbury residents with this unfunded mandate, which cannot be handled under the tax cap. Port Washington Schools are also affected.
5.   The Common Core curriculum (and the unfair teacher assessments and over-testing associated with it) is diminishing the quality of education our schools are able to provide. Students have increased stress and decreased creativity because of Common Core.  I hear time and time again from residents that Common Core has taken the fun out of school. Teachers are forced to teach to the test because their jobs literally depend on higher test scores. Curriculum should embrace individualization and not standardization. I am a firm believer in local control of school districts and Common Core is the antithesis of this.
6.   Music, art, sports and extracurricular activities, need to be maintained. There is a sense of community pride when your school wins a competition such as Roslyn recently did coming in first in a NYS Marching Band Competition (sorry, but I just couldn’t help but brag). When funding is cut, these vital programs that encourage individual strengths are the first to go. A well-rounded education must include all of these.
The year ahead in public education will be filled with educators doing their best to help students of all abilities reach their fullest potential. It’s what Long Island’s public school education is all about. As a New York State Senator, I will fight for the resources our community needs to maintain and foster the excellence we all expect.

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By Adam Haber

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