Letter: Open education debate to all

Dr. John King Jr., commissioner of Education and Dr. John King Jr., commissioner of Education and president of the University of the State of New York (second from right) listens as Dick Ianuzzi, president at NYSUT talks about school system structure before members of the New York Education Reform during a public hearing at SUNY College at Old Westbury. (Oct. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

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Last week, SUNY Old Westbury hosted the New York State Education Reform Commission, appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, ostensibly to hear speakers present papers on innovative concepts and programs to reform the state's current antiquated and expensive educational system ["Evaluating teachers, tests," News, Oct. 12].

Long Islanders for Educational Reform (LIFER), a taxpayer group concerned about both educational quality and costs, submitted papers on the importance of classroom technological advances; more rigorous teacher certification requirements; mandate relief, especially Triborough Amendment reform; and an educational tax credit system promoting choice in education to improve quality through competition and lower taxpayer costs.

Unfortunately, LIFER was not given a chance to speak because of the overwhelming number of teachers and administrators who monopolized the meeting with an entirely different agenda. Speaker after speaker demanded more funding, less accountability to test scores, and more teachers, counselors and social workers -- in short, a return to a past where New York spends more than any other state on education.

One can only wonder why the hall was filled with teachers and administrators on a Thursday -- a school day. Did the pedogogues take a personal or conference day paid for by taxpayers? Most disturbing was that those submitting testimony on behalf of taxpayers were not allowed to address the commission. These questions should be answered before any commission properly calls itself an education reform commission.

Fred Gorman, Nesconset

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Editor's note: This letter was submitted on behalf of the LIFER executive committee.

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