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If Education Means More Learning At Home, Cut School Taxes, Too

Parents who have had to add the title of teacher over the past two months have gained a new appreciation for teachers.

Those parents — particularly those who have tried to teach their child while still working their full-time jobs — desparately want to see school buildings reopen in the fall.

But at what price?

We’re not talking about COVID-19, by the way. We’re talking about the actual price of education.

Anyone who has paid a property tax bill knows that educating New York’s children isn’t cheap, but New York state is bound and determined to see how much a public school education can cost before parents decide the system is no longer worth it. Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual survey of the nation’s school spending. And, leading the way in per-pupil spending was New York state at a new record of $24,040 per student, 91% more than the national average. The state ranks in the top five in spending per pupil for total spending, spending from local sources, spending on instructional salaries and spending on employee benefits.

Clearly, something needs to change at the very time when parents and children need teachers and, by extension, their public school system the most. One thing that would be nice is if, during this period of distance learning and parents as teachers, parents received some sort of break on their school taxes. That’s especially true in a state where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is creating a blue ribbon commission made up of hyper-rich technology barons to reimagine schools. If this reimagining includes fewer teachers and more teaching at home, there had better be a corresponding decrease in the cost of public education.

A better solution would be reimagining schools as a place where children learn, both educationally and emotionally, at a cost that isn’t approaching the cost to send a child to college each year. If there are savings to be had with mergers and consolidations, find them. If there are ways to share administrators across districts, do it. If there are burdensome regulations that do little than add paperwork to people whose time would be better spent working with children, end the regulations.

We understand there is bound to be some change to education when schools reopen in the fall. But those changes shouldn’t result in parents acting as both de facto teachers while also paying ever-escalating state and local taxes to pay for schools. If the governor wants to reimagine education, start there.

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