Speaker names Benedetto to key Education Committee post
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BY ALEX MITCHELL
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto
has some homework to do before heading
back to Albany in January.
He was recently appointed as the new
chairman on the Assembly’s Standing
Committee on Education, replacing Assemblywoman
Catherine Nolan of Long
The fi rst issue that Benedetto will
be facing as chair is allocating proper
funding in the state budget, which is
always determined in the fi rst months
of the new year. Second to health, education
takes up the most sizeable
chunk of the NYS budget at roughly 25
“What we’re looking to determine
now is which education programs in the
state are in need of funding the most,”
Benedetto said, mentioning he has a lot
to look into as far as where the money
needs to go.
His guidance for that decision will
come from meetings with both NYS
Education Department Commissioner
MaryEllen Elia as well as NYC Schools
Chancellor Richard A. Carranza.
After the money is sorted out, another
issue that Benedetto and his committee
aim to tackle is the criteria in
which teachers are evaluated.
“Evaluation is not easy,” the chairman
said, mentioning how it’s diffi cult
to fi nd a balance between tipping the
criteria’s scale from principal observa-
tion to standardized testing.
He went on to explain how the bias of
a principal should not over weigh-in on
a teacher’s evaluation. On the other side
he also admitted that not all students
learn and perform in a standardized
“It’s something we have to look into,
trying to create a one-size-fi ts-all formula
is foolish and almost impossible,”
Being that he spent 30 years as a
Bronx educator, including the early
years at Our Lady of Assumption in
Pelham Bay, with the bulk working
with disabled students at P.S. 160 in Coop
City, his understanding of teacher
evaluations come from fi rsthand experience.
Even though he retired 14 years ago,
Benedetto intends to reinvestigate the
changes in special education and its
At the time, P.S. 160 had one of the
city’s largest special education units.
“Now there seems to be a merging
of special and general education and
that’s something we’re going to look
more into,” he said.
Other issues facing the education
of the state’s studentds are the future
standing of the city’s eight specialized
schools, two of which are in the Bronx.
These public schools handle enrollment
through the Specialized High
Schools Admissions Test, which is the
one and only way for students to apply
to these prestigious, taxpayer-funded
Critics claim that the entry tests
discriminate against student diversity,
which is also something Benedetto
wants to examine.
One item that was a major issue
when it was originally unveiled is the
common core curriculum, he said.
“It had issues with its initial application,”
Benedetto said, suggesting it was
rolled out too abruptly.
“But it had it’s moment and I see it
as a dead issue at this point in time,” he
Between budgeting, teacher evaluations,
special and private school equivalency,
and general education, Benedetto
willingly admits that he will have to hit
“It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m
eager to take it on,” the assemblyman
now is which
programs in the
state are in need
of funding the