Getting Back-To-School: Dealing With Rising Costs And Common Core

With Labor Day Weekend over, reality finally sets in for students and parents – it’s time to get back to school. Most schools in the Finger Lakes region open up next week, and getting kids ready gets a little more challenging every year. Between Common Core and back-to-school costs for families, things certainly aren’t the way they used to be.

The Common Core testing standards have generated a great deal of attention and frustration since their implementation. A year ago, the Assembly Minority Conference held more than a dozen education forums across the state to hear the concerns of students, parents and teachers. I was proud to join my colleagues in proposing education reforms within the APPLE Plan (Achieving Pupil Preparedness & Launching Excellence). Part of this plan calls for a two-year delay in the tests until we get the program fixed.

Our efforts led to some important changes to Common Core. Students from kindergarten to second grade will no longer take the tests, and test scores are no longer considered in teacher evaluations. But this year we will continue our fight for a delay in the testing. Nothing is more important than the education of our children, and taking time to get things on the right track is the least we can do for students, teachers and parents in New York State.

AS THE COST OF EDUCATION RISES, NEW YORK MUST RESPOND

Sending our kids back to school has gotten much more expensive. A recent national story lists the average cost of school supplies, electronics, clothes and shoes as $670 for each child, and for those with big families, that adds up quickly. For the nuts-and-bolts supplies like pencils, markers, notebooks and folders, the average cost is $100 per student, up 12 percent from last year. The cost of sending a child to school is increasing too fast. In New York, this unfortunate situation is worsened by the massive tax burden already incurred to educate kids in the public school system and the lack of relief taxpayers get elsewhere. You can check out the story here: http://www.today.com/parents/school-supplies-average-cost-tops-100-1D80069506

This is no small expense, considering all the other things hard-working families in New York are up against. The Tax Foundation recently released a report showing the purchasing power of $100 relative to each state. New York is third-worst at $86.66. With the new school year upon us I am renewing my call on the Governor and the Assembly Majority to get serious about lowering costs for New York families. They deserve nothing less.

LEGISLATION GIVES NEW YORKERS A FAIR CHANCE

There are ways to ease the financial burdens for New Yorkers. I have sponsored and supported measures that give families a much-needed break on back-to-school costs and everyday expenses. As a Conference, the Assembly Minority has always been committed to legislation that puts more money in the pockets of hard-working New Yorkers. Some of those measures include:

* providing a $500 tax credit to teachers who contribute or purchase supplies, pay for field trip costs or help with student expenses (A.4777, Palmesano);

* establishing college supplies as a tax-deductible expense (A.1564, Kolb);

* eliminating the state sales tax on everyday items like gasoline, car seats, bike helmets and hygiene products to make necessities more affordable (A.1574, Kolb); and

* creating two sales tax-free weeks on education-related purchases as well as computer and software (A.9184, Palumbo).

Today’s back-to-school costs remind us how important it is to give New Yorkers a deserved break from rising costs, and should remind Albany lawmakers that we need to make it a priority.

What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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