May 8, 2020
Statement From Assemblyman Palmesano:
“During a press conference this week, the governor expressed skepticism about students returning to the classroom and wondered aloud whether it was a viable long-term option. He announced that he has tasked Bill Gates with “reimagining” New York state’s education system.
“Emergency restrictions on gatherings were sold to New Yorkers as temporary measures to stop the spread of the virus, not radical, permanent changes to everyday life. Our kids learn so much about social interaction in school- how to make friends, how to resolve conflicts, how to collaborate. Our special needs children receive an array of life-changing services in the classroom setting. That in-person interaction is critical to student growth, learning and achievement. And while the hard work and dedication our educators have put in to get distance learning off the ground so quickly is a credit to their ingenuity and skill, there’s no replacing the organic experience of learning in the classroom. In addition, many students and families, particularly in our rural communities, do not have access to a reliable internet connection and other needed technologies. This problem was evident before this crisis and clearly manifested during it. Technology is meant to be a tool to help provide assistance in educating our children, not a replacement for actual teaching and learning in the classroom.
“Unfortunately, both the governor and Bill Gates have promoted a senseless emphasis on standardized testing and the disastrous Common Core Program, focuses that have consistently stifled the creativity of teachers and the authority of local school districts. Instead of trying to score some headlines by working with Bill Gates, the governor should be reaching out to our teachers, our principals, our school superintendents and our parents if he wants to fix our schools and improve outcomes for our kids.
“Let me be very clear: students and teachers belong in school and in the classroom, period.”