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How do New York's students measure up?

During his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama told the country that the key to "winning the future" was a quintessentially American trait: innovation. The key to that innovation, he said, is a greater emphasis on education.

"If we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas — then we also have to win the race to educate our kids," Obama said.

At Thursday's community forum at Erie 1 BOCES in West Seneca, New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner said America isn't winning the race. In fact, it's not even in the top ten.


The U.S. was 2nd worldwide in college graduation rates in 1995. Now (with data from 2006), it has sunk to 15th.

But New York State Regents Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett said that while he believes America's schools need to improve, global comparisons are not necessarily relevant.

Listen to Bennett talk about the State of the Union's education message:

"There’s an equity issue here about performing students and we've got to work on getting all students," Bennett said of the challenges posed in President Obama's address. "That’s why comparing to other countries is nonsense, because they select their students, we don’t. All of our kids we expect high things from."

Bennett went on to say that Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are making "appropriate and proper changes" in expecting more out of teachers and administrators. He said he believes the reforms in place and those mentioned in today's Buffalo News article are a good step toward progress.

"We're on top of that," Bennett said. "I think that New York can show probably way more progress than most other states in the nation about what's on our table, and I think they know that, too, otherwise, we wouldn’t have gotten Race to the Top [funding]. We were the second-highest ranked state in the nation."

What do you think? How do you feel America's students are stacking up across the nation, and the globe? And what do you think of Steiner's proposed reforms?

-Charlie Specht

E-mail me at or e-mail education reporter Mary Pasciak at Follow me on Twitter @CharlieBuffNews. Check out the Buffalo News' education page at

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