Education Budget Backlash

West Irondequoit, NY (WROC)–If West Irondequoit High School English Teacher Erin Quintero was grading the education portion of the state budget, it would get an F. “It perpetuates the myth that teachers are what’s wrong with education. It even perpetuates the myth that there’s something wrong with public education and I don’t think that’s true,” she explained. Mainly, the budget increases the length of time it takes for teachers to be eligible for tenure from three years to four. That’s down from the five years proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his executive budget. It also calls for districts to change their teacher evaluation system. Districts will have to come up with a new system that needs approval from the State Education Department.” It takes oversight out of my district and puts it into Albany which is very remote. I’ve never met those people in the State Education Department,” Quintero said.

That’s why Qintero is disappointed with lawmakers like Senator Rich Funke who supported the budget. “Did we get everything we wanted? No but that’s part of budget negotiations. That’s part of compromise,” Funke explained. Funke said he would rather have districts oversee their own evaluations. But that wasn’t on the table.

Monroe County School Board Association President Jody Siegle says this process forces lawmakers to vote for an on time budget. Otherwise, the governor could begin to pass pieces of the budget in what are called “budget extenders” without legislator approval. “They can’t control the content of the extenders and there’s a lot of concern that they would lose complete control of the process at that point,” Siegle said.

Funke said he’s proud to see his Senate District receive nearly $47 million more in aid. He also supports the education package because it removes common core testing scores from teacher evaluations. “There is absolutely nothing, no language anywhere that requires or even suggests that students test scores should now count for 50% of the evaluation,” he said.

 “Just because our legislators only drank half the poison, and resisted the other half doesn’t get them my congratulations,” Quintero concluded.

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, Assemblyman Harry Bronson, and Senator Joe Robach also voted in favor of the budget.

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