Lawmakers are wrong to reject Hochul’s mandate for high-quality tutoring

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Gov. Kathy Hochul, the first New York mom to be our governor, did the right thing by dedicating millions of dollars in funding for high-impact tutoring in her 2023-2024 budget. New York lawmakers, however, oppose mandating the funding for high-impact tutoring, a major investment that would benefit New York’s most vulnerable kids.

Ashara Baker

According to the latest data, New York ranks 46th nationally in fourth-grade math performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and there is a 26-percentage point (math) and 24 percentage point (ELA) gap between the proficiency rates of economically disadvantaged students and non-economically disadvantaged students. What is most alarming is that parents like me saw the acute learning regression even before COVID-19, and the learning gaps of minority children have only widened post-pandemic.

It’s no secret New York is quickly losing its position as a state known for a high-quality education system, as kids across the state, like my 6-year-old daughter, continue to struggle with academic milestones. Although tutoring costs are astronomical—about $4,000 for 80 hours in Upstate New York—the stakes are too high not to act. Like other parents, I have to make sacrifices to hustle and drive my daughter to a tutoring center so that she can spend an extra two hours every week for ELA tutoring support.

The state Assembly and Senate have chosen to be on the wrong side of history by flatly rejecting the governor’s proposal to fund and require high-impact tutoring in schools by setting aside $250 million in Foundation Aid—the main formula used to provide state funding for New York school districts. Although the rejection does not mean Hochul’s proposal is dead, the unanimous disapproval emanating from both houses is deeply concerning.

This shouldn’t be the case for families who often rely on one source of income and for kids who are often considered economically disadvantaged.

Research has found that students perform better in school when they’re tutored frequently in small groups. We know that tutoring is accessible only to those who can pay unless it is paid for in our state budgets. Not only is investing in tutoring the most impactful thing we can do to make up for learning loss, it is also a commitment to equity.

As we consider how to help kids catch up in the next year, we know two things to be true: We know that we cannot catch kids up by relying on a traditional seven-hour school day; and second, we know that families who are struggling with costs of everyday goods and services need schools to provide free, high-quality tutoring for our kids.

It is critical that state lawmakers agree to the terms of the governor’s budget—which is due for passage by April 1—as it relates to tutoring options. New York kids are behind in life-altering ways and we need aggressive, research-based action to help them catch up.

Removing the governor’s mandate for a dedicated fund for high-impact tutoring options leaves room for error within district spending. We have seen all too often how Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds go to waste with school districts throwing money at projects without significant oversight and accountability.

If high-impact tutoring funds are mandated, it could be a key component in ensuring families are getting the support they need. Lawmakers need to wake up and do the right thing to address learning gaps and immediately dedicate resources to support our children.

Ashara Baker, of Rochester, is co-founder of the New York State Charter Parent Council and the New York State director for the National Parents Union, a grassroots national advocacy group dedicated to empowering parent voices and increasing the quality of education in public schools.

6 thoughts on “Lawmakers are wrong to reject Hochul’s mandate for high-quality tutoring

  1. Josh I’m with you. Perhaps you’ve misread what I wrote.
    It’s usually not the teachers, it’s the methods.
    Urban kids can learn to read, but it often requires a variety of methods.

    • Appreciate the response. Governor Hochul’s recommendation for this “high quality tutoring” is an admission that our current effort isn’t working. Why not fix the current effort? Why keep going in a direction that has failed the urban community for decades? Why keep applying “band aids” to a system that needs major surgery? I don’t get it. It’s as plain as the nose on my face and I just checked that fact before I wrote it. (A little humor is important to stay focusses and sane.)

    • High impact has more to do with additional funding than “high impact tutoring.” All this technical conversation can be eliminated by teaching kids the way they learn in the first place . The system has failed them for decades. Unless, Donald Bartalo, you are of the opinion that some kids are uneducable. I happen to think that the urban kids can do as well as the suburban kids. It may require a different approach, but all kids have innate skills or gifts. The K-12 journey needs to help them explore and find their niche in society. That simple. But currently, the system fails them. NOT the teachers, the system.

  2. “It’s not the teachers”….and that would be correct. It’s the system. That system has failed the kids for decades, period. Extending class hours is only going to have kids get fed up and drop out. We need quality education from day one. Rescue programs don’t work, are costly and if we did the job of teaching our kids the way they learn from day one….guess what? But we don’t, we refuse. We have refused to that for decades. Yet, we expect different results. That is the definition of insanity. The RCDSD system owns the educational failure.

  3. I’m sorry to have to disagree with what you say: “We know that we cannot catch kids up by relying on a traditional seven-hour school day; and second, we know that families who are struggling with costs of everyday goods and services need schools to provide free, high-quality tutoring for our kids.”
    +++We can catch kids up in a regular school day. Students can be caught up both during school hours and after with use of the right teaching methods and all the people who work in schools. It’s NOT THE TEACHERS—IT’S THE TEACHING METHODS.
    +++Families who are struggling with costs should not have to pay anything for a free public education.

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