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An educator's insight on state policies regarding students, teachers and schools

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The State Legislature overnight approved a 2015-2016 budget that includes new education policies.  The reforms sought by Governor Cuomo in recent weeks linking state aid, teacher evaluations and standardized testing for students proved to be very controversial.

With details of the new budget plan still emerging, WBFO's Jay Moran spoke with Kenmore-Tonawanda School Board President Bob Dana about the direction the state is taking on education.

The Ken-Ton School Board recently voted to "seriously consider" boycotting state standardized tests for students in grades third through eighth. Ken-Ton Board Members hoped other school boards would join their protest, but Dana says that didn't happen. He says those that expressed an interest didn't on the legal advice of their counsel.  The State Education Department had warned boycotting state tests could result in the loss of federal funds and the removal of members of the school board. 

On the issue of teacher evaluations, Dana says there are a number of ways to determine whether teachers are effective.  He says he taught for more than 30 years and contends state tests are not one of those ways.

Dana says he doesn't believe Governor Cuomo is getting the best advice from his advisors on education policies.

"It's about the children, it's all about the children and that's all it should be," says Dana. "Children need to be challenged, children need to be provided opportunity. Children need to be nurtured and to have an opportunity to grow and learn.  When you talk about having every teacher evaluated the way they have been for the last year or two, you added a tremendous amount of time and effort into every administrator that takes them away from other duties. It takes them away from the hands on duties that they need to have to make sure that their teachers are performing in a way that they should be."

Dana adds, "I got into teaching for the right reasons. I'm so glad that I retired 15 years ago. I'm not sure I would recommend to anyone to get into teaching these days."

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.