Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pardon One Offense, and You Encourage the Commission of Many

So saith Publilius Syrus, better known for "a rolling stone gathers no moss." It seems an apt quote today. And speaking of commissions, now that the Guv is under fire for hobbling his own Moreland Commission, maybe it's time to look at his other commissions for a moment. What ever became of the Education Reform Commission, notable for including no one who actually worked in public schools at a level below state union president? They issued a couple of reports calling for merit pay, more early education, better technology, raising the bar for entrance into teaching programs, and an extended school day. The extended day may apply to a handful of districts who could afford a grantwriter to do the preliminary work. The better technology may have led to the Smart Schools Bond Act, and the more early education to the UPK Expansion plan this year, both of which were ripoffs for upstate (more about that later). And what ho, Mandate Relief Council, whose Chair was none other than the very Lawrence Schwartz who stood between reform and the Guv's pals and office on the Moreland Ethics probe? Let's see. You enabled school districts to share superintendents and to transport kids based on "patterns of actual ridership." How'd you do on anything that might save a district or municipality more than a handful of dollars? And where are you now?

Here's how that Council went: It requested proposals for unfunded mandate relief. It received thousands. It allowed public comment on some. It selected a handful through magical means. It referred a percentage of those forward to be repealed or modified.

This was Dryden's list of most burdensome mandates as described by the administration in 2008:

1. Academic Intervention Services (AIS) 2. 3-8 testing (costs accrue for scoring [including substitutes to replace classroom teachers], printing, and reporting)

3. 504 Accommodation Plans

4. Response to Intervention (costs for committees and implementation of strategies)

5. School safety plans (costs for committee time and printing)

6. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

7. ID badges and fingerprinting

8. CPR and First Aid requirements for special ed aides and athletics

9. Mentoring program costs

10. Professional Development costs

11. Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) costs

12. Green product use

SPECIAL MENTION: Wicks Law, Taylor Law

Every one of these is still unfunded and still a burden. But the Mandate Relief Council has been and gone, so tough luck for Dryden, I guess.

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