There's certainly been a lot of talk in New York State about our failing schools; so, how bad is it really?  The answer might just surprise you, especially after all of the rhetoric coming over the last several months from Governor Andrew Cuomo who is on a mission to fix New York's broken schools.

Smart Asset recently released a study on the best schools in the United States and in particular, which states had the best schools. The results seemed to have a lot to do with how much money each state invested into education.

America's Best States for Education

  1. Connecticut
  2. New Jersey
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New York
  5. Virginia

The study showed that many of the best states for education are in the northeast.

Good schools in the northeast. Led by Connecticut, each of the top four states in our study is located in the northeast, and seven of the top ten are on the east coast. Most notable among these states was the high rate of college-attendance. In New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut, over 70% of high school graduates attend college within 12 months of graduating.  -Smart Asset

New York spends $20,376 annually per student, the second highest in the nation, and the report specifically claimed that the investment is paying off.

The state of New York invests $20,376 annually for every student in its public education system, second only to Vermont. That investment is paying off. It has the sixth-highest college attendance rate of any state in the country, with 71% of high school graduates attending college within 12 months of graduation. -Smart Asset

This message is far different than the one being conveyed by Governor Cuomo.  During his State of the State address, he presented New York's public education system as one that was in crisis.  He criticized the new teacher evaluation system calling the numbers 'baloney' because too many of the teachers were classified as 'effective' when a higher number of students scored poorly on the assessment tests.

Currently, the Governor is threatening to hold back funding for schools if the state legislature fails to adopt his new rules on schools which would add more charter schools, revise teacher evaluations (so that 50% of their score was based on their student's score on state tests) and change the rules on teacher tenure.

The president of the New York State United Teachers told Syracuse.com that Cuomo's education proposals were off base.

The president of the New York State United Teachers, Karen Magee said Cuomo's education proposals were off-base.

" New York has one of the strongest public education systems in the nation," Magee said. "Governor Cuomo should be celebrating that excellence. Instead, today we get intellectually hollow rhetoric that misrepresents the state of teaching and learning. Students, parents and teachers, who know better, aren't buying this agenda, which everyone knows is driven by the governor's billionaire hedge-fund friends. The truth is, there's no epidemic of failing schools or bad teachers."

Dr. Rick Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium in Syracuse said in a video response to Governor Cuomo's approach to education and the so called failing schools, that new mandates, Common Core standards and new, more difficult state testing have played an obvious role in the decline of student scores.   Timbs also challenged the actual numbers showing New York paying the second highest amount per student in the country annually because the averages don't offer a fair cross section of what schools are actually spending.

”When we take a look at national averages we’re averaging in South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida; very low expenditure states and their scores show it,” he said.  He also shows a graph that shows the difference between the wealthy districts, some of which spend $90,000 per year per student versus poorer school districts (such as those in the Mohawk Valley) that spend $11,000 per student per year.  Additionally, the poorer school districts often times face high levels of poverty and students who are classified ‘English Second Language.’

The budget is required by law to be passed by April 1st.

Get the complete study from SmartAsset here.

See Dr. Rick Timbs Video response here.

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