200 Bills Signed Into Law and Counting

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed one of my bills into law today. Combined with the two he signed last night I now have 200 pieces of legislation that have been signed into law since I was first elected to the New York State Assembly. I am very proud.

Here are the releases we sent out for the bills.

SCARSDALE – Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) is proud to announce that A.474-A/S.1170-A, legislation she authored, was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

The legislation allows social services districts to offer recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) the option to complete a course in financial literacy and personal finance, with such instruction counting towards the 30-hour work activity requirement.

Additionally, the legislation authorizes social services districts to cooperate with the Department of Labor to provide workforce guidance and information regarding nontraditional careers for women to TANF recipients. This would help to encourage women to pursue and secure nontraditional careers, such as jobs in the trades, which pay above-average salaries.

The combination of promoting access to nontraditional careers and offering financial literacy courses will provide low-income women with the tools to attain greater economic security for themselves and their families.

“Encouraging women to pursue careers in higher-paying fields, that they may not have otherwise considered, can help these women to get out of poverty,” said Assemblywoman Paulin, “Similarly, the financial literacy course would provide helpful information for low-income women, particularly as they transition off TANF and into the workforce.”

SCARSDALE – Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) is proud to announce that A.2965/S.4172, legislation she authored, was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

The legislation amends current social services law in relation to forwarding reports of abuse. The law requires reports of suspected child abuse or maltreatment of a child be provided to the social services district charged with the care, custody or guardianship of such child when the child has been placed in a home under the care, custody or guardianship of an authorized agency which is not in the social services district that placed the child.

The care and custody of a child may be transferred by a social services district to an authorized agency and the child placed in foster care. There is no requirement that the authorized agency charged with the care and custody of the child and the child’s foster home be located in the same social services district that transferred the care and custody of the child.

Problems arise, however, when the foster home is the subject of a report of child abuse or maltreatment and the foster home is not located in the social services district that placed the child in the foster home. Under the previous law, notice of such report was not required to be provided to the placing social services district. Absent information that the foster home was the subject of a report of child abuse or maltreatment, the placing social services district could continue to place children in the care and custody of that foster home.

“We needed to close gaps in communication between and among authorized agencies and social service districts responsible for the safety and welfare of our children,” Paulin said. “Placing agencies must be informed of reports of suspected abuse or maltreatment involving homes in which they have placed children so that they do not unwittingly place additional children in a situation that risks subjecting them to further abuse or maltreatment.”

Patrick Gallivan (R-59) sponsored the bill in the Senate.

SCARSDALE – Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88) is proud to announce that A.7394-A/S.5990-A, legislation she authored, was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.

The legislation updates the municipal sustainable energy loan program, also known as property assessed clean energy or “PACE,” to enable municipalities to finance more renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects. Currently, PACE financing is only available for commercial properties.

The legislation addresses three barriers that have prevented the PACE program from growing and expanding into more areas of New York State. First, the current law requires that renewable energy must be “used primarily at such property,” which has prevented the use of PACE for remote net-metered and community solar projects. This legislation would update the law to remove this requirement and enable commercially owned property to use PACE for remote net-metered and community solar projects.

Second, under current law, the municipality is required to use federal grants or federal credit support to fund the loan program. However, federal assistance is not always available, or often has restrictions attached to it, which has prevented additional municipalities from participating in the program. This legislation will allow money from New York State or a state authority to be used.

Third, the law currently requires that the amount of the loan shall not exceed ten percent of the appraised value of the real property. While this is not a problem in areas of the state with high property values, in many upstate communities, this ten percent cap prevents valuable projects from moving forward. The bill would create a more flexible standard to apply only for commercially-owned property, which would allow more projects to qualify. This would enable more upstate communities to participate in the program.

“Addressing these three barriers will enable the PACE program to expand, financing more renewable energy and energy efficiency projects,” Paulin said. “It is a valuable tool for helping the State reach its renewable energy goals, and with these modifications, more commercial properties will be able to use it.”

Joe Griffo (R-47) sponsored the bill in the Senate.

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Wrapping Up Another Productive Legislative Session

The 2017 legislative session concluded last week, and I am pleased to announce several victories for the people of New York State.  I authored 16 bills which passed both the Assembly and the Senate, including my bill to end child marriage which has already been signed into law. Here is a closer look at the legislation:

Signed Into Law

Chapter 35 Ending Child Marriage

Prohibits the marriage of minors under the age of 17 and strengthens the process to obtain court approval for marriage of minors at least 17 but under 18 years of age.

Awaiting the Governor’s Signature

A.2093-B/S.5273-A Falsification of School Records

Prohibits unauthorized and false alterations and tampering of any official student records, files, or data maintained by the school or college.

A.1982/S.3295 Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act

Amends the public health law to make employee-only restrooms in places of business open to those in the general public who have an eligible medical condition, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, which requires immediate access to a restroom.

A.2965/S.4172 Notice of Child Abuse in Foster Care

Requires reports of suspected abuse of a child be sent to the social services district charged with the care of such child when the child has been placed in a foster home in a different social services district.

A.7198-A/S.5512-A Hate Crime Threats Against Community Centers

Amends the penal law to include community centers in the definition of a “public place” as it relates to bomb threats and other offenses against public order. I was spurred into action after bomb threats in February forced evacuations of two community centers in Westchester, including the JCC of Mid-Westchester, where my family and I are members. About 200 people were evacuated from the JCC of Mid-Westchester, including 100 children who attend the center’s early childhood program.

A.1112-B/S.2139-B Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans’ License Plates

Authorizes the issuance of distinctive license plates to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars or their spouses, bearing the words “Veteran of the Iraq War” or “Veteran of the Afghanistan War.”

A.288/S.3745 Electric Car Charging

Requires utilities to offer customers the option to purchase electricity solely for the purpose of charging an electric vehicle. This would enable the utility to offer cheaper time-of-day or off-peak rates for charging, encouraging customers to charge their vehicles at times that are most beneficial for the grid.

A.464-B/S.2098-B Elephant Protection Act

Prohibits the use of elephants in any type of entertainment act. This will protect elephants from the physical and psychological harm caused by the living conditions, treatment and cruel methods necessary to train them to perform in entertainment acts such as circuses.

A.2750-A/S.2392-A Attorney’s Fees in FOIL Cases

Awards attorney’s fees to a prevailing party who has gone to court to challenge an agency’s refusal to provide records requested under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), when the court finds that the agency had no reasonable basis for denying the records.

A.474-A/S.1170-A Financial Literacy Course for Public Assistance Participants

Allows social services districts to offer participants in public assistance employment programs the option to complete a course in financial literacy and personal finance.

A.7394-A/S.5990-A Municipal Sustainable Energy Loan Program

Updates the municipal sustainable energy loan program, also known as property assessed clean energy or “PACE,” to enable municipalities to finance more renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

A.473/S.2516 Disability Coverage for Probation Officers

Authorizes counties to provide disability coverage for probation officers injured in the line of duty.

A.6571/S.5190 Energy Storage Deployment Program

Directs the Public Service Commission to set a target number of energy storage installations and create programs to encourage more energy storage systems to be installed. Energy storage enables renewable energy to be used continuously which reduces the need for energy produced using fossil fuels.

A.7793-A/S.6749 Domestic Violence Voter Confidentiality

Enables victims of domestic violence to vote safely, by making it less burdensome to apply for a court order to keep their voter registration records confidential. The bill also expands the scope of the court order to include other records with respect to an individual in addition to the registration record itself. This will ensure that any records containing the voter’s address will not be made available to the public.

A.3198-A/S.2911-A Combat Veterans’ Paid Leave for Healthcare Services

Grants additional paid leave to combat veterans who are state employees for healthcare related services.

A.260/S.4069 Property Tax Exemption for Fuel Cells

Provides that micro-hydroelectric energy systems, fuel cell electric generating systems, micro-combined heat and power generating equipment systems, and electric energy storage equipment and systems are eligible for the real property tax exemption which is currently available only to solar, wind and farm waste energy systems.

My Child Marriage Bill Was Signed Into Law

I am proud to announce that my  bill (A.5524-B/S.4407-B) raising the minimum age to marry to age 17 was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in a Tuesday-afternoon ceremony in the Red Room of the New York State Capitol. The law prohibits the marriage of minors under the age of 17 and strengthens the process to obtain court approval for marriage of minors at least 17 but under 18 years of age.

I am thrilled that the Governor has taken this historic step and signed the bill into law. His unwavering support went a long way toward getting this done. Children who are 14 and 15 years old should be worrying about their schoolwork and spending time with their friends, not whether they have to get married. Girls marrying much older men are being abused physically, mentally and emotionally.  Marriage at such a young age destroys the lives of young girls. I am relieved we have changed this outdated law so that we can end this intolerable practice.

Senator Andrew Lanza, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, and I were on hand for the signing.  Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women of New York and a staunch advocate for the bill, was in attendance as was Safia Mahjebin, who had become the poster child for ending child marriage in New York.  Mahjebin has courageously spoken out about her own experience as a young woman from a traditional community in which girls are pressured and threatened to comply with the practice and are often subjected to abuse if they resist their parents’ demands. Keerthana Nimmala and Jenise Ogle from Sanctuary for Families, advocate for victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence, and a tireless proponent of the legislation, also attended.

“With the signing today of the law banning child marriage, New York State has taken an important step forward to end a human rights violation,” said Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families. “Sanctuary for Families has seen firsthand that young girls who are forced to marry are more likely to suffer domestic violence and are much less likely to complete their education.  We thank Governor Cuomo, Assemblywoman Paulin and Senator Lanza for their leadership and for standing with us against gender inequality and child exploitation. Marriage is now a milestone of adulthood, not childhood.” 

The minimum age to marry in New York State under previous law was fourteen. A 14-or 15-year old could marry with parental consent and court approval while a 16- or 17-year old could marry with parental consent. Prior law enabled children to be forced into marriage by their parents who brought their children before the court or the court clerk to provide their “consent”. In reality, the consent was a sham as the parents had forced their child to marry, threatening the child with ostracism, beatings or death if the child refused.

According to Fraidy Reiss, executive director and founder of Unchained At Last, nearly 4,000 minors were married in New York between 2000 and 2010 and more than 84 percent of those children were minor girls married to adult men. Unchained At Last is the only nonprofit in the U.S. dedicated to helping women and girls leave or avoid arranged/forced marriages. 

“This is an important first step toward ending the human rights abuse of child marriage in New York State,” Reiss said. “I applaud Assemblywoman Paulin for her leadership.”

The court approval process to authorize the marriage of 14- and 15-year olds under prior law did not provide adequate protections against abuse or fraud by the parents or guardians to force a child to marry.  The newly signed law strengthens the court process which will now apply to marriages of persons who are between 17- and 18-years old.  The new law requires, among other things, the appointment of an attorney for the child who has received training in domestic violence that includes a component on forced marriage, as well as requires the court to hold an in camera interview, separately with each minor party, and make specific written findings.  The law also provides that if the court approves the marriage, each minor party will have all the rights of an adult, including the right to enter into a contract, except for specific constitutional and statutory age requirements. 

“New York has recognized child marriage as a human rights violation,” Ossorio said. “We urge the rest of the country to follow suit.”

Heading Towards Summer In The 88th Assembly District

Dear friends and neighbors,

Summer officially begins as we head into the last full weekend of June. The cities, towns and villages of the 88th Assembly District have plenty of movies, music, presentations and more to help make the weekend more enjoyable.

Here’s a closer look at some of the events that are taking place in the 88th. Have a good weekend and remember that if you have an event that you’d like me to include in the coming weeks, send the information to Paulina@NYAssembly.gov.

THURSDAY

  • The White Plains Noon Day Concert Series continues at Renaissance Plaza (Main Street and Mamaroneck Avenue) from noon-2 p.m. Ivan Polanco will perform this week. Visit cityofwhiteplains.com for more information.
  • The Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services will host a guidance program on county services for seniors at the Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.
  • The White Plains BID will host the “Summer SoulSTICE Concert from 5-9 p.m. at Church and Main Streets as a way to celebrate the longest day of the year. The New Review and Shayna Steele are scheduled to perform. There will be food, drinks and more. The concert will be held rain or shine. Visit wpbid.com for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Opera will present “The Merry Widow” at The Ursuline School (1354 North Avenue, New Rochelle) at 8 p.m. There will also be shows on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 3 p.m. Visit nropera.org for more information.
  • Monroe College and the New Rochelle Police Department will host “Coffee With A Cop” from 10 a.m.-noon at The Barnes & Noble Café (33 Lecount Place, New Rochelle). Join friends and neighbors for a casual conversation with members of the city’s police force. Visit newrochellenny.com for more information.
  • The Westchester County Mobile Passport Program will be at Bronxville Village Hall (200 Pondfield Road, Bronxville) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit villageofbronxville.com for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) will present “Build a Better World” as it kicks off its 2017 Summer Reading Program at 1 p.m. Visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.

FRIDAY

  • The New Rochelle Down to Earth Farmer’s Market will take place at Huguenot Park at the corner of North Avenue and Eastchester Road at 8:30 a.m. and will stay open until 2:30 p.m. There will be produce, baked goods, cheese and more. New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Visit downtoearthmarkets.com for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Recreation Department will host its first of three “Parties in the Park” at Chase Park (32 Chase Road, Scarsdale) from 6-8 p.m. There will be live music and other entertainment. Visit scarsdale.com for more information.
  • The Westchester Reform Temple (255 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale) will host “Baby Boomer’s Sha-Ba-Baque” following summer services. There will be a barbeque dinner, wine and more. Visit wrtemple.org for more information.
  • Almost Queen will perform at The White Plains Performing Arts Center (11 City Place, White Plains) at 8 p.m. Almost Queen is considered one of the most authentic Queen shows performing today. Visit wppac.com for more information.
  • The Westchester County pools and beaches open full-time for the summer. They include Croton Point, Playland and Glen Island beaches; Playland, Saxon Woods, Tibbetts Brook and Willson’s Woods pools. Visit westchestergov.com for more information.
  • Bob Stewart and The Jazz Men will perform at Alvin & Friends Restaurant (14 Memorial Highway, New Rochelle) from 8:00-11 p.m. Visit alvinandfriendsrestaurant.com for more information.

    Cool Out With The New Rochelle Cops

  • Beth-El Synagogue Center (1324 North Avenue, New Rochelle) will host “Kabbalat Pride Shabbat” at 6 p.m. Alyx Bernstein, a storyteller from Mosaic of Westchester, will speak. Visit bethelnr.org for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Police Force will host “Cool Out With The Cops” from 6-8 p.m. at The Barnes & Noble Café (33 Lecount Place, New Rochelle). Meet and greet the New Rochelle police officers and members of The P.A.C.T Unit. Visit newrochelleny.com for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Library (54 Olmstead Road, Scarsdale) will show “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse, with Cary Grant, as part of its “Afternoon Movies For Adults” Series at 1:45 p.m. Visit scarsdalelibrary.org for more information.
  • The Eastchester Public Library (11 Oakridge Place, Eastchester) will show “Silence”, with Liam Neeson, as part of its EPL Film Series at 1:30 p.m. Visit eastchesterlibrary.org for more information.
  • The Pelham Library (530 Colonial Avenue, Pelham) will kick off its summer reading program with a performance by “Bash the Trash” from 3:30-5 p.m. Visit pelhamlibrary.org for more information.

 SATURDAY

  • The New Rochelle Grand Market Downtown will take place at 1 Library Plaza at 9 a.m. The market, which will remain open until 2 p.m., will feature fresh produce, baked goods, honey, crafts and more. Visit newrochelledowntown.com for more information.
  • The Bronxville Farmer’s Market will take place at Stone Place at Paxton Avenue from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Visit bronxvilleframersmarket.com for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Police Foundation Benefit will take place from 6-10 p.m. at the home of Anthony and Carmen Paolercio (56 Wildcliff Road, New Rochelle). Contact Barbara Cabrera at 914-573-9115 for more information.
  • Sarah Lawrence College (1 Mead Way, Bronxville) will host The 4th Annual Publish and Promote Your Book Conference from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Visit sarahlawrence.edu for more information.
  • New York State will allow free fishing on Saturday and Sunday in any of the state’s fresh or marine waters for anyone without a license. Visit dec.ny.gov/outdoor/89821.html for more information.
  • The Leslie Pintchik Trio will perform at Alvin & Friends Restaurant (14 Memorial Highway, New Rochelle) from 7:30-11 p.m. Visit alvinandfriendsrestaurant.com for more information.
  • The New Rochelle Library (1 Library Plaza, New Rochelle) will host its “Summer Reading Kick-off Celebration” at 11 a.m. Visit nrpl.org for more information.

 SUNDAY

  • Bicycle Sunday will take place on the Bronx River Parkway from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. between the Westchester County Center in White Plains and Scarsdale Road in Yonkers. The 13.1 mile loop will be open to bikers and clo

    Janifer Lighten

    sed to car traffic. Visit westchestergov.com for more information.

  • The Tuckahoe Farmer’s Market will take place in Depot Square. The market is open every Sunday through the end of November from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit tuckahoe.com for more information.
  • The Eastchester Farmer’s Market will take place in the parking lot of Country Markets of Westchester (344 White Plains Road, Eastchester) from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The Farmer’s Market will run through mid-October. Visit facebook.com/EastchesterFarmersMarket for more information.
  • The Dedication of the New Rochelle Boys and Girls Club Janifer Lighten Teen Learning Center Reception and Naming Ceremony will take place from noon-2 p.m. at The Remington Clubhouse (116 Guion Place, New Rochelle). Visit bgcnr.org for more information.
  • The Scarsdale Teen Center (862 Scarsdale Avenue, Scarsdale) and The American Red Cross will offer a babysitting training program from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Visit scarsdaleteencenter.org for more information.

 Please visit www.burbio.com/lists/district-88-events for more information about these and other area events.

Hoping For Recovery, For Steve Scalise And The Rest Of The Country

I was saddened upon learning that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others were shot this morning on a baseball field in Virginia.

I hope that he and the other victims of this heinous, senseless act recover quickly. I was left wondering how this could happen and how easily people can become targets, seemingly in this case because of the victims’ political party affiliation.

The fact that this happened to Congressman Scalise, a duly elected representative in the United States government, left me shaken. I am an elected representative of the 88th Assembly District in New York State. My job allows me to shape the laws in New York, as well as to work closely with the public and my constituents.

As elected representatives, one of the most important parts of our job is to be close to our constituents whenever possible. This shooting was an attack on our democratic values and upon our tradition of politicians being accessible to the public. No person, whether elected or not, should become a target simply because another disagrees with their political beliefs.

Today’s events should give us all a reason to pause. We need to do more to work together so that the differences we have can be resolved civilly and not escalate into senseless acts of violence.

I hope that Congressman Scalise and the other victims will make a full recovery and by the time they do, perhaps we will have turned our attention to making sure that something like what happened today never happens again.

Putting An End To Child Marriage In New York

One of the most important pieces of legislation on which I am working concerns ending child marriage in New York State. This is a disgusting, dirty and ugly practice of which not many people are aware. But it is happening in New York. Help me to bring an end to this horrible practice. Share this powerful video that UNICEF put together and spread the word. Let children be children.

Rendition courtesy NPR

Rendition courtesy NPR

 

Weddings are supposed to be beautiful, but these are terrifying

Working To Change Standardized Testing

I, along with Assemblymen Tom Abinanti and David Buchwald, sent a letter to Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch of the New York State Board of Regents yesterday. The purpose of the letter was to let the Chancellor know that we believe the Common Core is flawed and that is something that needs to be addressed. Here is a cop of the letter.

October 21, 2013

 

Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch

NYS Board of Regents

89 Washington Avenue

Albany, New York 12234

 

Dear Chancellor Tisch:

 

We believe the current testing program has the potential of doing more harm than good for both students and teachers. While we support the new Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) and recognize that it must include an assessment component, we believe the shift in the assessments to measure the CCLS is not working. For the following reasons, we urge you to discontinue the current use of the Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) and math assessments and develop and pilot an assessment program that will improve the quality of teaching and learning in our schools.

1. The current ELA and math assessments are not a valid indicator of college or career readiness.  This year, most school districts saw a passing rate inconsistent with the expected achievement of their students. If you looked at the passing rate on the 8th grade math and ELA scores you would conclude that most students will do poorly in high school and struggle in college. Historically, this has not been the case. For example, Pelham, a school district that has spent the past two years diligently aligning instruction and curriculum to the CCLS, saw its scores drop by about 20% in ELA and math, leaving the impression that its students are not prepared for a challenging curriculum. However, a similar cohort of students have traditionally performed very well on the algebra and English regents and have been successful throughout their high school career, taking advanced placement and college level courses, engaging in scientific research, and excelling in academic competitions.   This past year, 95% of Pelham’s seniors were accepted into four-year colleges, 66% of which are ranked as “most,” “highly” or “very” competitive.

The only conclusion we can draw is that these new tests are not a valid measure of whether a student will succeed in college or in a career.

2. The new tests are not improving learning. The shift to align the assessments with the common core curriculum has led to longer tests (i.e. an increase in the number and complexity of multiple-choice questions on the ELA tests).  Also, teachers have reported that many of the questions were too vague and did not align with the common core curriculum/content.  Students who do not have the stamina to take longer tests or who get frustrated when faced with new material often just give up (which could be skewing the results).  While students everywhere are exhibiting test anxiety, we are especially concerned about low performing students who get frustrated more easily. This could result in an antipathy toward learning.

These recent test results have presented our schools with an additional significant challenge.  Academic intervention services (AIS) were historically provided to any student in grades 3-8 who scored below proficiency on math or ELA. This year, districts reported that there just was not enough money in their budgets (nor was any forthcoming from the State) to cover the rise in the number of students eligible for AIS.  Further, districts’ staffing needs were established during last year’s budget process. There is no way they could have anticipated the additional staffing needs required to support the many more students who now need AIS.

Granting school districts greater leeway in determining which students should receive remedial help by setting a “threshold” score begs the questions: if the tests are a valid measure of student achievement then why do districts need to manipulate the scores and why are we denying low-scoring students the support services they truly need?

3. The new tests are not improving instruction.  Currently, teachers are not allowed to see the completed tests for each student; they receive only an aggregate score. Districts require more than just sampling or model questions to improve instruction. Individual test items must be provided so that meaningful programmatic adjustments can be made for each child and for the entire class. Also, as it stands now, teachers receive the test results well into the following school year denying them the opportunity to adjust lesson plans for the entering class. Teachers need to receive the results before the start of the school year.

Just recently, we read that NYC schools had not received the new English and math text- books and other materials which match the tougher CCLS, presenting yet another reason to slow down the shift in assessments.

There is a lot at stake – a child’s self esteem and a teacher’s reputation and perhaps career path are tied to these tests, putting a lot of pressure on both teachers and students to do well. We feel that teachers need this valuable time to teach critical thinking skills in an unpressured, stimulating environment.

4. The new tests are not a reliable measure of a teacher’s ability.   While the aggregate number of teachers falling into the State’s “effective” and “highly effective” categories has remained constant for two years, the rating system is less reliable when applied to an individual teacher. Too many teachers who were rated “highly effective” or “effective” last year were rated “ineffective” this year.  Teachers do not change dramatically in one year.  Receiving a low grade, especially after receiving a high grade in the prior year, is demoralizing and is not a reliable indicator of performance.  Fortunately, most districts have adopted evaluation plans that minimize the impact of any one score.  However, once the information is made public, a teacher is branded.

5. The cost of testing is creating financial hardship especially on school districts with fewer resources.  Two districts, Locust Valley and Scarsdale, have estimated the cost of testing at between $2.5 and $2 million (includes the cost of data collection and lost teaching time), respectively. The cost may be higher for a larger district. While most school districts are struggling to stay within the tax cap, poorer districts have found it an even greater challenge and have already cut staff and programs, increased class size, and eliminated extra-curricula or enrichment programs.  Running out of options, they will have to dig even deeper to meet their financial obligations to the detriment of the students.

The mandate to use computers for on-line testing by 2015 is another financial and educational dilemma for most school districts.  Many districts, but especially the poorer ones, just do not have the technical capability nor the financial resources to implement this mandate by 2015.  Also, all districts will be forced to give up instructional time by using the computer lab exclusively for testing.  Schools and students have come to rely on computer labs for instruction, homework, and research assignments, all of which will be curtailed by this mandate.

We believe that State Education Department is moving too fast.  We urge you to take the time to design an exemplary testing program that will be used as a model for improving teaching and learning for many years to come.

Thank you for your consideration and for all that you do for the students of New York State.

Sincerely,

 

Amy R. Paulin                          Thomas J. Abinanti                              David Buchwald

Member of Assembly               Member of Assembly                Member of Assembly

 

 

 

Cc:  Vice Chancellor, Anthony Bottar

Dr. James Dawson

Dr. Geraldine Chapey

Harry Phillips, 3rd

James R. Tallon, Jr.

Roger Tilles

Charles R. Bendit

Dr. Betty Rosa

Dr. Lester W. Young, Jr.

Dr. Christine D. Cea

Wade S. Norwood

Dr. James O. Jackson

Dr. Kathleen M. Cashin

Dr. James E. Cottrell

T. Andrew Brown