New York Education Officials Support More Charters

BUFFALO (AP) -

New York’s top education officials on Wednesday recommended that the governor and lawmakers allow more charter schools, particularly in New York City, and make it easier to fire ineffective teachers.

Weighing in on several issues at the request of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, the Board of Regents and the Education Department also recommended revising the statewide teacher evaluation system to prevent what happened last week, when virtually all teachers got high marks. They also suggested keeping New York City schools under mayoral control and making it illegal to assign students to low-performing teachers two years in a row.

“While New York state has done much to improve public education in recent years, we continue to face critical challenges,” read a letter to state Operations Director Jim Malatras.

The letter was signed by Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and soon-to-be acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin.

The letter cited a low percentage of high school graduates considered ready for college or the workforce and persistent achievement gaps between low-income and minority students and their more well-off peers.

Cuomo sought the input as he prepares what he said will be an aggressive legislative package for 2015. He announced Wednesday that his  2015 State of the State Address will be held at the Convention Center in Albany next week Wednesday.

Outside the governor’s mansion Wednesday, the teachers union staged a protest against what it said were “attacks on public education and teachers.” Cuomo supporters staged a counter protest.