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Maffei says federal education initivatives are not working in central New York

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Education was on the mind of Syracuse-area Cong. Dan Maffei this week at a roundtable involving teachers, parents and administrators, and he got the sense that the current federal education policy is not working in schools in central New York.  

Maffei spoke specifically on the Race to the Top program, which pits states against each other in order to get federal funds, and he had some issues with it.

"There's a lot of well meaning things about it, but we need to have more flexibility in school districts in order to meet the goals that are set. That's an important thing, and I'll be bringing that to the Secretary of Education and others in the administration and see if we can't change it," said the Democratic congressman.

Maffei would like to see the Obama administration more flexible on this issue, and says he'll bring that message to Washington.

"I think it too often tries to apply one-size-fits-all to various states. The idea that you would do competitive funding in a way that really ties the hands of school districts and teachers, I think doesn't work."

The congressman also agreed with some educators that the difference in a public education between poorer and richer communities is ultimately a civil rights issue.

"Everyone deserves a certain level of public education in order to be everything they can be. Just because of who your parents are, doesn't mean you don't deserve a really good public education and right now there's too much of a disparity."

There is also frustration among educators about what happens to those federal dollars, which the state government distributes, some contend in an inequitable manner.