The “New” New York Education Reform Commission met in Albany last week for the first of its 10 public hearings planned around the state. The 25-member commission is tasked with reexamining the state’s public education system “through the lens of what is in the best interest of students.”

The commission’s mandate is to explore solutions to long-standing policy debates surrounding teacher retention and evaluation; the imbalance in support between high- and low-needs schools; and increasing parent engagement; among other issues. Gov. Cuomo has asked the panel to develop a blueprint for making the state’s system a national model.

The commission’s report, which Cuomo will receive in December, is expected to help set the governor’s education agenda for the 2013 legislative session.

The commission’s next meetings are scheduled for Buffalo on Wed., July 18, New York City on Thurs., July 26 and Binghamton on Wed., August 8. [Link to the full meeting schedule.]

We not only have a great deal of work to do in terms of ensuring that our tax dollars are being spent properly, but we also need to do better in terms of ensuring that school funding is fairly distributed throughout the state. The National Report Card, which looks at fairness in school funding throughout the nation, shows that Westchester and Long Island have some of the highest funding levels in the nation, while upstate cities and rural areas receive dramatically lower school funding despite often having to address much higher levels of student need.

Upstate New Yorker’s are entitled to a fair school funding formula, and we urge the Governor’s Education Reform Commission to fix this fundamental inequity.