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Gov. Paterson: In a “perilous” time, schools must improve

David Paterson, via Flickr

David Paterson, via Flickr

At a time when he has proposed cutting education spending by $2.5 billion, Governor David Paterson was necessarily short on education policy proposals during his State of the State address today.

The annual address, which Paterson delivered today for the first time, is typically a forum for the governor to announce new initiatives. Paterson did propose a substantial new loan program to help high school graduates afford college.

But in a sign of the lean times, the other two programs Paterson singled out for attention both shift at least some of the burden of paying for educational services onto private providers. One, the early college high school model, partners colleges with public schools so students earn college credits during high school. Paterson also highlighted Say Yes to Education, a national foundation that supports low-income children throughout school and college; Say Yes currently works with several schools in Harlem and upstate in Syracuse.

Paterson said the state needs schools to improve without additional resources. “The road to economic competitiveness and renewal runs right through our schools,” he said. “However, during this downturn, we simply cannot spend more — so we must spend more effectively.”

Below the jump, Paterson’s full remarks on education:

Another way we can protect our children and build a brighter future is to ensure that every child in New York receives a good education. This current crisis should teach us that the only way to restore our long-term economic competitiveness is to build the world’s best system of education. We can do it, but we have a long way to go. Today, three in ten New Yorkers do not graduate from high school and don’t even have a chance to go to college. The numbers are even worse for children of color and children from low-income families. We must do better. We must ensure that every child is prepared for college — and that every child can afford to go. Innovative educational models have raised high school graduation rates and prepared our most disadvantaged children for college. This year, through public-private partnerships, we should work together to establish new early college high schools throughout New York. And we must expand the SAY YES program, which offers free college tuition to students who meet educational standards. Yet we must do more than just prepare our children for college; we must help them afford it. When private lenders refuse to lend to our students because of tight credit markets, we must step in. That is why I propose we establish the New York State Higher Education Loan Program, which will provide more than $350 million in affordable loans to students in need. I have always fought for more resources for our schools. The road to economic competitiveness and renewal runs right through our schools. However, during this downturn, we simply cannot spend more — so we must spend more effectively.