Don’t blame State Ed employees

To the editor:

The editorial in Friday’s paper, “Is State Education up to the task …” is unfair to the beleaguered employees of the State Education Department.

The truth is that the department has, for years, been the whipping boy for many administrations wishing to cut costs. I personally know of two offices at the department that have gone from between six and 12 workers 20 years ago to one per office. One. And it’s not like those offices were bloated with political appointees; they were hard-working civil servants whose jobs were obliterated by politicians who know that voters will never see the cuts that happen behind the walls of State Ed.

The department is trying to make the grading of assessments as objective as possible, because it is through these assessments that the effectiveness of schools is calculated. Yet they have to outsource the testing to Questar, because State Ed does not have the infrastructure to administer them. Prior to Questar, Pearson did the tests, and was harshly criticized for the quality of their tests. Questar promised to (and did, in fact) include teachers in every step of exam preparation.

If a school district contracts with a bus company to transport students but has a 20% failure rate, do you blame the school district or the bus company? Responsibility here lies with Questar, who has a $44 million, five-year contract to deliver assessments in New York state.

Emmett Hoops

Saranac Lake