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Superintendent Nolan: 'I'm Guarded' About Cuomo's Proposals

After Gov. Cuomo's State of the State address, Sachem Superintendent stays positive, but cautious about extended school years or lengthening school days.

Sachem Superintendent James Nolan said he was going to stay positive, but was "guarded" by Governor Andrew Cuomo's suggestion to extend the academic school year or lengthen school days, if it is intended to be a "quick fix."

"I don't think there's a cure, or remedy, or quick fix to any educational problem," Nolan said in an interview with Patch. Governor Cuomo's State of the State Address encompassed educational issues all across the entire state. "I can't compare my own children to one another, so I can't see how anyone can compare inner city schools to rural schools, to suburban schools, to schools in higher economic areas, to schools in lower economic areas..."

Nolan said Cuomo's "broad brush" with which he paints the challenges in education is difficult to abide by, and ignores the role demographics play from school to school. In some cases, longer school years might be beneficial, but in others it may not be necessary, Nolan said.

"Do some students need more time? Absolutely. But I'm not sure that school [extensions] will solve anything, and I'd like to know what we're solving."

Nolan added that the district is continually open to suggestions and ways to improve. "But I'm somewhat guarded when people have a quick solution."

Additionally, Cuomo's suggestion would have a significant and immediate impact on labor negotiations, salary increases, and increased expenditures for the buildings. Calls for comment to John Troise, president of the teachers union at Sachem, were not returned. However, Nolan examined the cost and was puzzled by Cuomo's committment to fully fund any changes to the academic calendar. Namely, he was curious to know that if Cuomo had funds to cover these initiatives, why aren't those funds available immediately for current budget shortfalls?

"We're struggling right now," Nolan said. Currently the district has a roughly $20 million budget gap for 2013-14. "I'm just a little curious about that. If the state is willing to fund the resources for [Cuomo's ideas], fantastic. But we're begging for that right now."



Brian January 15, 2013 at 05:55 AM
Also keep in mind, the national teacher turnover rate after 3 and 5 years is the highest in ANY profession. By 5 years, nearly 50% of new teachers have left the profession. Higher in urban areas. Something is not working.
Kat Lee January 15, 2013 at 07:31 AM
Brian, I come from a family of teachers, I am not one, but my Aunt was a principle in the private sector, my Uncle was the Principle of one of the Islips schools. ;My sister and my brother in Law are teachers. I understand the frustration of just wanting to teach the kids. It's no wonder we lose them right away when their dreams lay in tatters on the the classroom floor along with the future of the children they have worked so hard to teach. The few that are still involved in the system now are beyond frustrated. They are not educating children they are teaching them how to pass a test.There is a huge difference.The only thing the Educational system is missing is that eventually the account runs dry, when you make no deposits; you can't make withdrawals. Making kids stay in school longer than they already have to is as the old adage says "throwing good money after bad." Throwing more time and assuming children are going to get play time and socialization is a very long shot. I don't know about Finland or any other country for that matter. I know that I was well educated in my early school career.I know at that time we were up there with if not ahead of the other countries. Fixing this system no matter how expensive is got to be a better idea and the least expensive one for our children and their children than making this a bigger mess than it already is.This society , this system is so screwed up and no one really wants to do what needs to be done to make this right.
Brian January 15, 2013 at 02:34 PM
@Kat, at the time you and I were educated, we were not in a global economy. Our kids, my kids, now have to compete with that. So you better bet that our educational system needs to be on par with that of the other top nations. While it is great to be able to look back and say, hey we did ok and we got by fine, why can't the kids now be more like that. The world has changed and the advances in technology in just the last 10 year alone has opened up huge gaps college readiness, the employment market, and the workforce alone. I studied education, was a teacher, and admin and now work in higher ed. I, too, come from a family of educators. Yes, the system is broken. Part of the broken system is the minimal length of the day. I am not sure how up to speed you are with a Sachem elem school day, but you might want to see how they cram the disciplines into these tidy time blocks that are not nearly long enough for the kids to learn, digest, absorb, and apply the newly acquired knowledge. You said you did 45 minutes of HW a night? It is nearly double that now for the typical elem age kid who might be struggling a bit to keep up. Yes, all at the hands of testing and 'results'. Yes, that part of the system is royally screwed up now (follow the money trail). I want a longer school day and year, but not in the current system. http://www.infoplease.com/world/statistics/school-years.html
Bill Morin January 15, 2013 at 08:09 PM
So go live in Finland, S. Korea or Japan...This is AMERICA which too many people forget....
Tom Calabrese January 31, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Extend school year? You really think Nolan wants to go up against the teachers union on this one. It really doesn't matter though. For all practical purposes the school year ends as soon as state testing is over. June is a Joke academically.


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