Assemblyman Santabarbara’s Student Cabinet Holds Hearing on Teacher Evaluations

Students from across the 111th Assembly District met at our state Capitol for Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara’s (D-Rotterdam) second meeting of his Student Cabinet, which included a hearing on teacher evaluations with testimony from education experts.

“Students have a lot to say about the issues affecting their education and our Student Cabinet meeting provided a unique opportunity for them to weigh in on teacher evaluations, which directly impact their classroom experience. I was encouraged by how students from across our community embraced the challenges of a legislative hearing and drafted interesting proposals that will provide insight from a student’s perspective on this critical issue,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam).

The students acted as state legislators at a legislative hearing, taking testimony and asking questions of education experts regarding the implementation of new teacher evaluation systems. Following the hearing, the students worked in groups to propose their own broad guidelines for evaluating teachers based on what they heard in the hearing. The students then had the opportunity to present their findings during a subsequent hearing and took questions from their peers.

In addressing the issues of teacher evaluations, students touched on the role of testing, measures for student performance, factors for evaluating teachers, different grading for teachers and the role of evaluations.

“Today’s experience with the Student Cabinet provided a glimpse into the challenges and responsibilities of Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. I also appreciated having the opportunity to voice my opinions about teacher evaluations and work with students from across the region,” said William Schmitt, a senior at Schalmont High School, who served as chairman for the hearing.

“Being here helped open my eyes,” said Kait Isaac, a senior at Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville High School.

"It was an honor and a privilege to speak before Assemblyman Santabarbara's Student Cabinet this morning. I am so proud that we have students who care deeply about the issues facing public education today. I hope these student leaders understand that the future of quality public education is at stake when we model our teacher evaluation system after a failed Washington DC model that saw teacher turnover rates approach 83%." said Chad Radock, Statewide Campaign Coordinator for the Alliance for Quality Education and expert witness for Tuesday’s hearing. "Students understand better than anyone how education policy impacts our schools, since they live in that world every day."

Testimony was given by representatives from the New York State United Teachers, New York State Council of School Superintendents and Alliance for Quality Education. Students at this meeting of Assemblyman Santabarbara’s Student Cabinet came from school districts in Schenectady and Montgomery counties.

The Student Cabinet was assembled by Santabarbara to give students from the 111th Assembly District a voice in the critical issues affecting their education, including school funding, Common Core and testing. In their first meeting, students worked in groups to draft school budgets and then allocated state education aid based on those proposals.