Governor wants to lengthen school year

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In his State of the State, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about improving education. One of his ideas is extending the length of school days, and/or school years.

If schools move ahead with the governor's idea of increasing learning time by 25 percent, your child could spend approximately 225 days in school instead of the current 180.

Parent Sue McEwen said, "I don't agree at all. I think they can use their time wisely, in the time they have. They are kids, and they should have time off."

MORE | Cuomo also suggested making 15 grams of marijuana a violation, toughening gun laws, and increasing the minimum wage. Watch his full State of the State address or read the transcript here

Not everyone seems convinced that more time in the classroom means a better education.

"We have long school days already, and then with sports, it's going to be hard to get in all the homework that we get," said eighth-grader Kristin Palmer.

Hamburg high school senior James Lillin has concerns, too. "I would personally be more upset about the longer days, because it would mean less hours at work and less income for me. That's income I need... for my future."

Cuomo's proposal is based on a similar program Massachusetts started in 2006. Advocates there say adding 300 instructional hours to the school year has helped students improve their math scores by 20 percent, reading scores by 8 percent and science scores by 9 percent.

Parent Todd Fiore said, "I can't imagine how that wouldn't be true. You spend more time studying, I think you would do better. And we are ranked lower than we should be, in the world, in the last 20-30 years."

The governor also wants to set higher standards for future teachers by increasing admission requirements at the state's public colleges, having education majors do more student teaching, and re-writing New York's teacher certification test, much like the bar exam.

Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore said, "Let's face it. The crucible of the classroom is how you tell whether a teacher's going to be a good one. So you can have all the bar exams, and all the other exams, that you want. I don't see any of them that have ever been a predictor of a good teacher. Because you can do really well on an exam, and not really be a great teacher."

Lillin likes the idea of student teachers getting in more "real world" practice and experience.

"We have a friend who's a student teacher," he explained, "and he could definitely benefit, along with everybody else, with some more time underneath teachers who know what they're doing," he said.

Added Palmer, "I think that's actually kind of good. Because with past student teachers that I've had, they haven't taught things really well. I get kind of lost in the subject."

Rumore agreed, saying, "I think it should be earlier in their career, so that if you decide that you want to be a teacher - like, in your sophomore year - you should be going into a classroom."

The governor doesn't believe teachers' training should end when they receive their certification. He's suggesting a system of veteran teachers mentoring the up-and-comers.

Under Cuomo's proposal, those "master teachers" could earn $15,000 extra every year, for four years of teaching their less-experienced colleagues.

That idea gets very high marks from Rumore. In recent years, the Buffalo Public Schools have struggled to retain new teachers for more than a few years.

"We used to have a mentor-teacher program, where we had six teachers that were interviewed, and everybody said they were really top-knotch teachers. Their full-time job would be to spend a day or maybe two with the new teachers, to help them," Rumore noted.

"The best program that you can have for new teachers is support for them, by a veteran teacher. If they want to invest in that program, that would really -- that made a big difference, here in Buffalo, when we had it."

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New York (change)

 
Democrat Andrew Cuomo is Governor of New York.  Two Democrats represent NYS in the U.S. Senate, and NY has 29 representatives in the U.S. House: 21 Democrats and 8 Republicans.
 
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Governor: Andrew Cuomo
Attorney General: Eric Schneiderman

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