Statement From Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan Regarding Education Issues

Last evening, I introduced a comprehensive education reform package (S8992) which addresses a number of critical education issues now before the New York State Legislature.  With it, we have achieved a complete repeal of APPR, permanently decoupling student test scores from the evaluation of teachers, and rightly returning to a system of local control of education.

By doing so, we have proven that we are listening to the opt-out movement on Long Island and elsewhere, protecting collective bargaining, accelerating the timeframe on tenure to allow good teachers to remain in the classroom, and most importantly, giving hardworking teachers the ability to focus solely on teaching. 

This bill also fixes issues raised by the state Education Department, the state School Boards Association, the New York Council of Superintendents, and others that previous legislation might actually lead to the additional testing of students.  No one wants that.

We are also listening to parents who are demanding more choices for their children by increasing the number of charter schools in New York City, where nearly 50,000 children are currently stuck on waiting lists hoping and praying for their shot at a first-class education, and decreasing the number of charters upstate where the need isn’t as great.

In addition, we are protecting students whose parents are making a choice to send their children to a yeshiva.  We recognize that SED is not equipped to regulate these schools, and therefore we do not require them to do so, but we do ensure that SED maintains oversight of these schools.  And, to address concerns raised by some that there are no repercussions for noncompliance, we have added new transparency and accountability measures.

We are also taking steps to combat bullying and discrimination in public schools by restoring jurisdiction to review these incidences to the Division of Human Rights to protect students so they can focus on learning.

There is nothing more important than the education of our young people - - it opens new doors and unlocks new and greater opportunities.  As the former Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, I know first-hand the challenges faced by students, parents and teachers, and why we must give them the resources and the tools to soar even higher.

I urge my partners in government to work with the members of our Senate Republican Majority to approve this important education reform package so we can deliver an extraordinary result to the people of New York.