Million Of Dollars For Educational Standards To Improve?

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A report which was featured in the New York Times last week, suggests that in order for New York State to help its students meet the new and rigorous standards set by other states in the US that an estimated $56 million will need to be spent, just in order to help schools and colleges equip themselves properly with the right scholastic materials such as text books for core subjects like English and Math.

However, there are worries that in a time of general austerity throughout the US that extends out not just from Education, but into other areas such as Defence and Health Care too, whether or not these massive costs be justified.

Common Core Standards

It’s been argued that this expenditure were not unexpected at all given that as far back as 2010, New York State signed up for the Common Core Standards scheme. This format, which has already been accepted and integrated by forty five US states sets a national standard for what youngsters should be learning, in terms of the two main subjects English and Math.

The standards were something which, according to the Common Core website were designed not only by the teachers in schools, but with input from parents and children too, so that everyone could work together and understand what was happening at every stage of the educational process for a shared goal.

It is not a curriculum which is set in stone, rather a guideline for teachers to follow in order that their pupils can set a benchmark for their own individual academic success which should help them succeed further on, into college and ultimately the workplace itself.

New system of testing for students

This is the first academic year in which students will be tested according to the Common Core and as early as next month children from third to eighth grade will start to take examinations in English and Math according to the new regimen. Older children who are attending High School will begin their tests according to the new standards next year.

Where does the money go?

According to City School Officials, the $56 million will be spent for the most part on common core educational materials in the subjects of English and Math, as well as providing other basic equipment too. Most of this will be spent equipping children from Kindergarten age through to eighth grade. City Officials said that thus far this year $13.3 million had already been spent on re-equipping many school libraries with text books as well as other materials related to the core subjects. State officials have also been at pains to point out that the $56 million figure is only an estimate, which is based on an expectation that seventy percent or more of schools throughout New York will adopt and maintain these core standards. However, concern has already been expressed from a number of sources as to how cost effective this all is and whether any of it needs to be done at all.

Michael Mulgrew who is the president of New York City’s teacher’s union is quoted as saying that the cost of buying all the new materials was of concern to him. He also questioned whether or not they would actually meet the common core standards or not and indeed whether they could all be bought and brought in, in preparation for the start of the new scholastic year.

Similarly, Meryl H Tisch, who is Chancellor of New York State’s Board of Regents argued that the costs were “not inexpensive” and that in many cases School curriculums that meet educational requirements are already being provided for free on a website called EngageNY.com and were available for teachers and other educators to download and implement in the classroom. However, she did also point out that school officials should be able to spend their money as they saw fit.

Other City School Officials such as Shael Polakow-Suransky have argued that the money was not going to be coming from City Tax payers alone, but would come from a number of different sources, not least a special state fund which was set up in order to pay for textbooks. School Officials have also argued that it has been longer than a decade since any new curriculums or updating of scholastic materials had been undertaken in New York and that these new common core ideals were much needed.

Good educational standards for our children are of supreme importance, and that cannot be argued against, but at a time in which major cuts are being made elsewhere, can $56 million really be spared?



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The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author.

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