Thomas Golisano, the Independence Party candidate for governor, said here today that failing urban school systems -- including Buffalo's -- should overhaul their curriculum and lengthen both the school day and the school year.
Speaking at a morning news conference to kick off his campaign, Golisano said the state's city school districts are spending an average of about $11,000 a year per student, yet getting poor results.
In Buffalo, he said, fewer than two-thirds of the students who enter high school actually graduate.
"We're spending the money for a miserable result," he said.
Golisano said he was not "picking on" Buffalo, since results are similar in Rochester, Syracuse, New York City and Yonkers.
"The educational system in our urban areas is in a lot of trouble," he said. "We cannot continue to plod along with these very dismal results."
Golisano, who said he will issue more detailed position papers on education prior to the November election, called for longer school days and school years. That proposal gets considerable support among local school administrators, but they stress that both proposals likely would result in sizable increases in compensation to teachers and other staff members, whose work hours generally are set by contract.
Golisano, a Rochester businessman, also said that curriculum in schools has largely remained static, and that too many students "just aren't getting it."
The candidate, who received 4 percent of the vote in the 1994 governor's race, also renewed his call for the elimination of Thruway tolls and for a reduction in fuel taxes that would result in lower gasoline prices at the pump.
Thruway tolls, he said, delay traffic, are an annoyance, and harm New York's business climate.
Laureen A. Oliver, the Independence Party's candidate for lieutenant governor, said she and Golisano are giving voters a choice.
The Independence Party, which has about 140,000 members, is allied with the Ross Perot-inspired Refrom Party. Its leaders say it stands for fiscal conservatism and social libertarianism.