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Commission recommends broad overhaul, with few specifics

The high-profile commission charged with overhauling New York’s public schools released its first set of recommendations today, endorsing several popular education reform policies but shying away from declaring a position on others. The full report, titled “Putting Students First,” is below the jump.

Governor Cuomo, who created the commission, stopped short of endorsing its recommendations, but did express early support for several ideas, including teacher performance pay and the community school model of using schools to offer supports beyond academic preparation.

Other recommendations include expanding pre-kindergarten for students in poor districts, strengthening teacher and principal preparation programs, and extending the school day and year.

The commission did not address some prickly issues, such as teacher evaluation. Chairman Richard Parsons said that was by design, citing a recommendation from State Education Commissioner John King that the commission wait to take up the topic until its next report, scheduled for next fall.

The commission includes supporters of tightening teacher evaluations and overhauling work rules, such as Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, as well as Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, whose New York City local has opposed evaluations that rely heavily on student test scores as a measure of teacher performance.

The report also avoids specifics. Governor Cuomo and members of the commission who presented the findings at a cabinet meeting this morning stressed that the recommendations were purposely broad. The 25-member commission will return to work in the next year to hone the recommendations, a process they said would result in more specific — and more controversial — details.

The release comes more than a month after a Dec. 1 deadline by which Commission Chair Richard Parsons was required to submit recommendations. Several sources familiar with the commission’s proceedings but who weren’t authorized to comment on the record said that Parsons met the deadline, but Cuomo’s office waited to announce the plan’s details.

At the meeting, Parsons said that report was written with the following idea in mind: “Get them sooner, keep them longer and do more with them when you got them,” he said.

The commission has been on a nine-month fact-finding tour of New York State regions and districts to come up with its recommendations. During that time, the commission held 11 meetings and heard from 300 people who testified.

Education Reform Commission Report FINAL.pdf (1)