Back in September we informed you about the harmful, inequitable, and unconstitutional decision made by the New York Board of Regents to approve a request from the New York State Education Department to eliminate the right to additional instructional support (see p. 11) for many thousands of students who were unable to pass the new state exams this past spring.
As we described, because larger numbers of students did poorly on the tougher new statewide tests, the state ed. department asked the Regents for permission to limit the number of students who would be eligible for academic intervention services (AIS)—extra support to help students meet demanding new standards—to the same number of students who received such support last year. As we said, at a time when the state claims to want to raise standards, this makes no sense.
Why would the New York’s educational leadership deny so many students their right to extra academic help? Purely because providing these needed instructional supports would impose extra costs on already cash-strapped schools and school districts. This proposed policy shift is yet another example of how basic educational resources and services are currently being jeopardized by inadequate state funding for schools.
The good news is that it is not too late for the Regents to change their mind and restore these important supports to students who need them. It turns out that the Regents’ decision in September was only a temporary, emergency amendment. To make the decision permanent, a final vote must be taken during the Regents’ regularly scheduled two-day meeting in Albany on December 15-16, roughly three weeks away.
At its November meeting, the Regents agreed to allow SED to continue denying New York students the right to more help this school year if they failed the new tests last spring. And it is likely they will continue this inequitable and unconstitutional action In December unless New Yorkers send them a clear message that they oppose this clear violation of our children’s educational rights.
There are many ways to express your views to the Regents and the state ed. department, to your state representatives, and to the governor. You can also raise this issue at your neighborhood school, throughout your personal and professional networks, and at every education-related public meeting (e.g., school board, community education council, government hearings on education) you can attend between now and December 15th.
Working together, we can ensure all of our children the educational opportunities they need in order to succeed in school and to which they are entitled under the state constitution.