One way in which our society is unequal? Education.
(Page 2 of 2)
It’s no secret that there are too many school districts in New York state. Study after study by smart people points to the fact that there is no reason for a tiny school district with 800 students to be independent when it could be merged with an adjoining district. But parents and students want to have school identity, and won’t give up their sweatshirts with local logos for a modern, consolidated school district.
The next issue is the formulas for the distribution of education aid. Some of the neediest school districts get next to nothing in new aid, while the land-wealthy districts do much better. The governor’s Race to the Top program, which rewards better-performing schools with more money, is a great idea. But for the past 50 years, everyone has been talking about revising the way we distribute aid, and nothing ever happens.
Some of my friends on Long Island think that parents in New York City are getting a better deal because they pay very little to support education. Because of poor long-range planning, the city lacks a sufficient number of public schools to accommodate its population, and parents turn to private schools. Private-school tuition in almost any school I can think of is now over $40,000 a year, which is an impossible burden for the average hardworking family.
There is no doubt that New York state is blessed with many brilliant and dedicated teachers, and we graduate many very promising students. But overall, the system is hurting badly, and so far no one has come up with a way to give every student an equal chance at getting a good job and having a meaningful life.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.