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NYS education commissioner visits two very different school districts

Ellen Abbott

It was a tale of two distinct school districts in Onondaga County as State Education Commissioner John King visited central New York today during a new school year swing through the state. While there are big differences between the Fayetteville-Manlius and Syracuse City School Districts, he found some similarities especially when it comes to attacking the new rigorous common core standards.

According to the latest numbers from New York state, the graduation rate in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District is almost 94 percent. In the Syracuse City School District it's 48 percent. Federal numbers reveal less than five percent of F-M students qualify for free or reduced price lunch, compared to the about 85 percent in Syracuse city schools who qualify for that same benefit.

The extremes in public education in New York state were evident during King’s visit, but so were some commonalities.

"In some ways it shows that the fundamental challenge is: how do you provide the right supports for teachers so they can provide the richest possible instruction in the classroom? And both the superintendent here at F-M and the superintendent in Syracuse are giving a lot of thought to how to create an environment that supports teacher professional development and principal professional development," King said.

King says professional development is the same when it comes to teaching the new curriculums. He says the difference lies in the out of school challenges city students face. King applauded  to the new iZone school strategy in Syracuse, which he says offers those city school district students some of the out of school supports that the suburban students get, as a way to bridge the gap between the two schools.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.