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Five Things to Listen For in Cuomo Speech

Wednesday, January 04, 2012 - 08:29 AM

In an annual Albany tradition, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will signal his priorities for this year in his state of the state address on Wednesday, including his proposals for schools and education. The address, at 1:30 p.m. in Albany, will be live streamed on City Room, The Times's Metro Desk blog.

Here are five things to listen for:

1. New Education Commission: He is expected to convene a blue-ribbon group of educators to try to improve student achievement and hold schools accountable for performance. Who will he choose to lead the commission? If he is serious about making changes, look for members to be chosen from outside education groups rather than state agencies.

2. Financial Incentives: Mr. Cuomo has emphasized the need to “incentivize performance by school districts” by rewarding those that make strides in boosting student achievement. The state is already moving ahead this year with a $250 million competitive grant program, called the School District Performance Improvement Awards Program. Will Mr. Cuomo expand upon that idea by tying more state money to performance measures?

3. Increase in State Education Aid: The governor has said that he plans to increase overall state education aid by four percent, or about $755 million more than what is being spent in the current year. The increase was promised by Mr. Cuomo and Albany leaders last year, and would partially reverse a decline in state education spending since 2008.

4. Mandate Relief: After successfully pushing through a statewide cap on local property tax increases, will Mr. Cuomo follow up on his pledge to provide relief to financially troubled school districts facing unfunded — and in many cases, outdated or unnecessary — state mandates?

5. Teacher Evaluation System: Will Mr. Cuomo flex his considerable political muscle to help the state education department implement a tough new teacher evaluation system that was promised under the state’s application for the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program?

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