Cuomo Commission: Longer School Day, Year

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -

A commission tasked with finding ways to improve New York’s public school system on Wednesday recommended longer teaching days and academic years, teacher competency exams, more pre-kindergarten, district consolidations and the recruitment of top high school and college graduates.

Many of the preliminary recommendations by Gov. Cuomo’s NY Education Reform Commission have been proposed before but have been blocked by politics or lack of funding, obstacles that still remain, Cuomo acknowledged.

Other ideas are already in place to some degree and should be expanded, commissioners said, including using schools to address health, mental health and other social needs.

“The problem New York confronts, we concluded, is how to replicate these examples of excellence in every school district in New York; how do we create a statewide system of public education that ensures that every child will have the opportunity to get an education that will enable them to achieve their true potential?” commission Chairman Richard Parsons wrote in delivering the panel’s interim report to Cuomo.

The report was drafted after 11 hearings throughout the state and testimony from more than 300 people.

Cuomo organized the commission of business leaders, educators and parents in April 2012, noting that New York spends more money per student than any other state but ranks 39th in high school graduation rates.