Karen Magee, president of Néw York State United Teachers, has called for a mass opt out from state testing. Her protest is in response to Governor Cuomo’s hostile actions towards teachers and public schools.

Magee said (correctly) that test-based evaluation is an unreliable measure of teacher quality.

“New York State United Teachers president Karen Magee hinted on Monday that the powerful statewide union would launch a campaign to further encourage parents to have their children “opt out” of state-administered, Common Core-aligned exams in order to undermine the use of test scores as a component of teacher evaluations.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Magee said the union has posted information on its website instructing parents on how to have their children refuse the third through eighth grade English and math exams, which are required by the federal government and will be administered next month.

“I’m a parent,” said Magee, who lives in Westchester. “My child is in 11th grade at this point in time. Had he been a third to eighth grader, he would not be taking the test. The tests are not valid indicators. The American Statistical Association has said there is no direct link to tie these tests to student performance or teacher evaluation. Let’s look at tests that are diagnostic in nature, that actually inform practice in the classroom, that actually work to serve students who are directly sitting in front of the teacher for the year as opposed to what we have in place right now.

“At this point in time, yes, we are encouraging parents to opt out,” she said. “We will be taking further steps to make parents aware of this…..”

“Magee admitted that some level of opt outs could hurt teachers in this way, but said, “Statistically, if you take out enough, it has no merit or value whatsoever.”

“When asked whether it was her goal to impact the validity of the exams, the union president responded: “At this point in time it’s the best way to go.”

Cuomo sought the most punitive possible evaluation approach to teachers. Despite the evidence against tying teacher evaluation to test scores, Cuomo demanded that 50% of each teacher’s evaluation be based on test scores.

He never explained his plan to evaluate the 70% of teachers who do not teach tested subjects.

He also has insisted that the views of an independent evaluator count more than that of principals, but has not explained the cost of hiring thousands of evaluators or why the judgment of a drive-by evaluator should have greater weight than that of the principal.

His hostility towards teachers is palpable. Future leaders will have to repair the damage Cuomo has done through his blatant disrespect for teachers, all teachers. Who will want to teach?

Ali Gordon, a school board member in the Comsewogue school district on Long Island, Néw York, believes that it is time to stand up and speak out. For her dedication and courage, I name her to the blog’s honor roll.

 

She writes:

 

This is my fourth year serving as an elected trustee of the Comsewogue School District Board of Education. Trustees are elected by their community. The position is voluntary- there is no pay. There are no hidden perks, no allowances. It is time-consuming, with multiple meetings and events monthly, dozens of documents to review in preparation for the meetings, as well as correspondence between trustees and administration and of course with the community. In order to fulfill these responsibilities, I miss out on time at home with my husband and four children.

 

It is stressful- particularly as we work to develop an annual budget. No matter what decisions we make as a board, there will always be someone disappointed. But I love every minute of it because I love my community- and I take very seriously the responsibility entrusted to me by the community.

 

I’ve been talking about the issues facing public education for a long time, but it’s not enough to talk. I am suggesting practical solutions could be implemented now.

 

At this point, I want to make clear that the opinions I express here are mine alone- I do not speak for the Comsewogue School District, or the rest of the Board of Education. I can’t stay quiet for fear of retribution from NYSED anymore. I have been warned that a Trustee who speaks out could be removed by the State Education Commissioner. But this is too important: our schools, our children, OUR FUTURE depends on those of us who were elected to represent the best interests of our communities doing exactly that.

 

This is a particularly difficult time for public education, especially in New York. Governor Cuomo and the Board of Regents are pushing ahead with education policy in which the ends do not justify the means. There has been tremendous criticism of Governor Cuomo, and his recent decision to withhold state aid runs and extort the Legislature to pass his education reforms. Our legislators are stuck between agreeing to terrible reforms, and getting more funding for their local schools, or refusing the Governor, which would lead to a late budget and a potential loss of millions of dollars for those schools.

 

The reforms Cuomo is pushing on public schools are disingenuous, dangerous, and wrong. He is working out of the privatization handbook- attempting to dismantle unions, turn the public against educators, and make us believe our schools are absolutely awful. He uses inflammatory statistics to support his claims. In the process, our students are the ones suffering. The obsession with standardized testing has taken on a life of its’ own. It seems the federal and state government cannot think of any other way to move forward in education.

 

But they are not the ones who were elected to determine what happens within your school district. Governor Cuomo was not on the ballot last May when you voted for your local district budget and elected your Board of Education Trustees. Each of Cuomo’s education policies reflect a desire to remove local control from schools. The reason for local control is simple- those who have familiarity with a community are better situated to determine its’ strengths and weaknesses, and to know what works.

 

The needs of an urban school in a high poverty area will differ from that of a rural school upstate. Even on Long Island, schools not far from one another have very different needs. Governor Cuomo and the Board of Regents are searching for a one size fits all answer to a million different issues. They will never work for every community. In the meantime an entire generation of students are being sacrificed for testing data.

 

Case in point, Gov. Cuomo is now insisting on an investigation into the evaluation procedures (APPR) of Long Island districts, because he thinks the system is skewed to favor teachers. He is demanding NYSED look into these evaluations, because he cannot believe so many teachers were rated effective, or highly effective. Those APPR plans were negotiated (as per labor law) and submitted for approval to NYSED. So the very entity which approved the plans is now asked to investigate them. Here is the point Cuomo cannot fathom: teachers on Long Island were rated highly effective or effective in large numbers because they are effective.

 

If Long Island was a state, we would rank #1 in the nation for high school graduation rates, with 90.8% of our students receiving their diploma. In addition, Long Island would rank #1 in Intel Semifinalists and #2 in the nation in Siemens Semifinalists, behind California. Cuomo prefers to ignore these statistics because they do not fit his narrative.

 

So what is the answer? It’s not enough to complain. Name calling isn’t helping. We must propose an alternative vision for our public schools. There are several things than can and should happen now in order to stop the destruction of public schools with misguided education policy.

 

First, Governor Cuomo must separate his education reforms from his Executive Budget Proposal. If he believes strongly enough in these reforms he should be willing to let them stand alone as legislation and allow a healthy debate in the process. The Legislature would then be tasked with evaluating these reforms based on their merit, through committee hearings, and public input. Our democracy has three branches of government in order to prevent one person from having too much power. Cuomo should not be allowed to circumvent the separation of powers established in our Constitution.

 

The Legislature should ensure that new appointees to the Board of Regents have knowledge of, and experience in public education. There are four Regents whose terms are expiring, and interviews are being held now, with Legislators expected to vote in early March. The Board of Regents establishes education policies for the state, and it is imperative that they understand public education in order to fulfill these responsibilities.

 

Parents must educate themselves as to what is happening in their schools. They should ask questions, attend Board of Education meetings, local education forums, and contact their representatives. Every parent must make an educated decision regarding state testing in grades 3-8. This will be the 3rd year my children have refused to take the state exams. I believe this is the strongest weapon parents have in the fight to save public education. As the number of test refusals grows, the reforms dependent upon those numbers will falter. We will starve the testing machine.

 

School districts must respect a parent’s right to refuse testing on behalf of their child, and Boards of Education must adopt a policy to outline what accommodations will be made for students who are not taking the tests. A sit and stare policy is cruel and unacceptable.

 

Every one of us has a vested interest in public education. It’s not just cliche to say that these students are our future- it is reality. We must work together in order to move forward and find solutions to elevate public education without destroying things that are already working. I can’t sit by quietly anymore and hope that someone else will make it happen. I have a sworn duty to represent the interests of my community, and that includes speaking out against policies and people who endanger the well- being of our students and faculty.”

Indiana and some other states have enacted or plan to enact laws legalizing discrimination against same-sex couples. Blogger and teacher Kenneth Bernstein sent me this excellent article by Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, who is openly gay. Here is Ken’s reaction.

Cook writes:

“There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.

“A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.

“Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law….

“America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement….

“This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.”

Andy Borowitz, the humorist who writes daily at the Néw Yorker, put it another way:

“INDIANAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—In a history-making decision, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has signed into law a bill that officially recognizes stupidity as a religion.

“Pence said that he hoped the law would protect millions of state residents “who, like me, have been practicing this religion passionately for years.”

“The bill would grant politicians like Pence the right to observe their faith freely, even if their practice of stupidity costs the state billions of dollars.”

MORE from Borowitz: Pence Stunned to Learn How Many People Have Gay Friends

Breitbart News reports that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has entranced some conservatives with his success at crushing labor unions, but has tried to distract their attention away from his incoherent position on Common Core and Common Core testing. Some Republicans–like Jeb Bush and Susanna Martinez–are strong supporters of Common Core. Others–like Bobby Jindal–once supported it but now oppose it. But Scott Walker has everyone confused. He is both for the Common Core standards and against them. He is in favor of the federal tests and against them.

 

But on one issue, Republicans appear to be united. Many are eager to cut the funding of higher education to balance the budget, and to avoid raising taxes on the rich. (There may be some Republican governors who are supporting higher education; I invite readers to tell me their names.) Scott Walker (who dropped out of Marquette University) has proposed slashing $300 million from the University of Wisconsin, which is one of the finest higher education systems in the nation (or has been until now). UW campuses are preparing for the worst, with some planning to eliminate entire majors or to reduce faculty by as much as 25%. In Illinois, newly elected Governor Bruce Rauner, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School) has proposed a $400 million cut in higher education funding. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (a graduate of Brown University and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar) wants to cut higher education funding by $200 million in a state that desperately needs more intellectual capital. Doug Ducey, the new Republican Governor of Arizona (a graduate of Arizona State University), proposed (and the Legislature passed) a $99 million cut to the state’s universities, as well as eliminating all state funding from several community colleges.

 

This is a display of free-market fundamentalism at its most extreme. These governors (and there are undoubtedly others) would rather cut the funding of colleges that educate the professionals and brainpower of the state’s future than raise taxes on the wealthiest in their state. Or is this just an example of someone who succeeded and then decides to pull the ladder up so that no one else has the same opportunities unless they are born rich?

Paul Rosenberg, writing at Salon, is outraged that many super-wealthy people–and their apologists at the NY Times–blame poverty on the lifestyles of the poor.

He writes:

“There they go again. Conservatives are back again with their “war on poverty,” which is to say, their war on poor people and any liberals, or sympathizers, who try to help them.

“Unlike Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, which despite 50 years of demonization and policy reversals has cut U.S. poverty by 40 percent (see No. 3 here), the conservative version has little hope of doing anything about poverty. But that’s not the point. Neither is attacking poor people and liberals, for that matter. The point is defending the obscenely rich, and the massive upward redistribution of wealth America has seen going on since the 1970s. At the same time the broad-based increase in affluence of the early post-World War II era has been decisively shut off.

“IRS data compiled by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saenz and their colleagues at the top incomes database shows how stark America’s shift from a broad-based prosperity model has been. From 1947 to 1973, the average incomes of the bottom 90 percent increased 99.2 percent, compared to 88.9 percent for the top 10 percent, and a mere 7.4 percent for the top 0.1 percent. But from 1973 to 2008, the average incomes of the bottom 90 percent fell 6.1 percent, while the average incomes of the top 10 percent continued rising by another 70.8 percent, and average incomes of the top 0.1 percent skyrocketed an astronomical 706.4 percent.

“With the bottom 90 percent losing ground, on average, and the top 0.1 percent gobbling those losses up like candy, it makes perfect sense to try to distract attention by finger-pointing at the poor—as well as those who might be inclined to help them. Whether it actually makes sense or not is irrelevant. All it has to be believable—for those with a powerful-enough motive to believe.

“A case in point is the recent David Brooks Op-Ed blaming poor folks for their poverty, which Salon’s Elias Isquith wrote about here recently, along with a disturbingly similar poor-bashing piece by neoliberal Nicholas Kristof. Given his high-profile perch at the so-called liberal New York Times, Brooks drew some rather pointed data-informed responses, including ones by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig at the New Republic (“Poor People Don’t Need Better Social Norms. They Need Better Social Policies. What David Brooks doesn’t understand about poverty,” Connor Williams at Talking Points Memo, who argued that “David Brooks Is Mistaking Poverty’s Symptoms For Its Causes,” and Noah Smith who responded with a short blog post, providing the links to make his point that “Americans are better behaved than ever.”

All the references are linked to their sources in the article.

How does this connect to education? The leading funders if the charter school movement are billionaires and multi-millionaires who are beneficiaries of income inequality. Their spokesmen, like Governor Cuomo say that money is not the answer to the problems of education. He refuses to pay the schools the billions of dollars the state owes after losing the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. He imposed a tax cap so districts can’t raise taxes to cover rising costs unless it is approved by 60% of voters in the district–59% won’t do.

His answer to the needs if districts: open charter schools. That satisfies his patrons, but drains the budgets of public schools even more.

Skeptics suspect that the 1% prefer charter schools as a means of avoiding discussion of taxing the 1% to reduce inequality. When hedge fund managers show as much interest in fully funding the public schools as they do in privatizing them, the skepticism will disappear.

As long as they continue to treat privately managed charters as society’s best (and cheapest) way to fight poverty, they will appear to be paraphrasing the old line misattributed to Marie Antoinette: “Let them Eat Charters.”

One of the mantras of school choice advocates is that “the money”–whether federal, state, or local–“should follow the child.” It should be stuffed in a backpack that he or she can spend wherever they choose. The claim is made both for charters and vouchers, and behind it is the assertion that the money somehow belongs to the child, not the community that paid taxes.

Peter Greene here shows what a fallacious claim that is.

He writes:

“I’ve resisted this notion for a long time. The money, I liked to say, belongs to the taxpayers, who have used it to create a school system that serves the entire community by filling that community with well-educated adults who make better employees, customers, voters, neighbors, parents, and citizens. But hey– maybe I’ve been wrong. Maybe that money, once collected really does belong to the student. In which case, let’s really do this….

“Does she want to go to the shiny new charter school? Let her go (as long as they’ll take her, of course). But why stop there? Travel has long been considered a broadening experience– what if she wants to take the voucher and spend it on a world cruise? Why not? It’s her money. Perhaps she wants to become a champion basketball player– would her time not be well spent hiring a coach and shooting hoops all day? Maybe she would like to develop her skills playing PS4 games, pursuant to a career in video-game tournaments. That’s educational. In fact, as I recall the misspent youth of many of my cohort, I seem to recall that many found smoking weed and contemplating the universe to be highly educational. I bet a voucher would buy a lot of weed….

“Heck, let’s really go all in. Why use the odd fiction of a voucher at all– let’s just collect taxes and cut every single student an annual check for $10,000 (or whatever the going rate is in your neighborhood). Let’s just hand them the money that we’re asserting belongs to them, and let them spend it as they wish. Maybe they’d like a nice couch, or a new iPad, or a sweet skateboard, or a giant voucher party, or food and clothing for themselves and their family. ….”

Whose money is it?

Dozens of teacher associations have endorsed a strong resolution against high-stakes testing.

These groups include:

Amityville Teachers’ Association
Associated Teachers of Huntington
Babylon Teachers’ Association
Baldwin Teachers Association
Bay Shore Classroom Teachers Association
Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers
Bellport Teachers Association
Bethpage Congress of Teachers
Brentwood Teachers Association
Brockport Teachers Association
Camden Teachers Association
Carmel Teachers’ Association
Center Moriches Teachers’ Association
Central Islip Teachers Association
Clarkstown Teachers Association
Commack Teachers Association
Connetquot Teachers Association
Deer Park Teachers’ Association
East Williston Teachers’ Association
Elwood Teachers Alliance
Farmingdale Federation of Teachers
Freeport Teachers Association
Fulton Teachers Association
Garden City Teachers’ Association
Glen Cove Teachers’ Association
Half Hollow Hills Teachers’ Association
Hamburg Teachers Association
Hauppauge Teachers Association
Hastings Teachers Association
Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association
Hicksville Congress of Teachers
Ichabod Crane Teachers Association
Islip Teachers Association
Kingston Teachers Federation
Lancaster Central Teachers Association
Lake Shore Central Teachers’ Association
Lakeland Federation of Teachers
Lawrence Teachers’ Association
Levittown Teachers Union
Lindenhurst Teachers Association
Little Flower Teachers Association
Locust Valley School Employees Association
Lynbrook Teachers Association
Merrick Faculty Association
Middle Country Teachers Association
Middle Island Teachers Association
Miller Place Teachers Association
MORE Caucus (NYC)
New Hartford Teachers Association
New Paltz United Teachers
New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees
New York Mills Teachers’ Association
North Babylon Teachers’ Organization
North Bellmore Teachers Association
North Merrick Faculty Association
North Rockland Teachers Association
North Shore Schools Federated Employees
North Syracuse Education Association
Oceanside Federation of Teachers
Oneonta Teachers’ Association
Orchard Park Teachers Association
Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers
Plainedge Federation of Teachers
Plainview-Old Beth Page Congress of Teachers
Port Jefferson Teachers Association
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association
Ramapo Teachers Association
Rocky Point Teachers Association
Rockville Centre Teachers’ Association
Rome Teachers Association
Sauquoit Valley Teachers Association
Sherburne-Earlville Teachers’ Association
Smithtown Teachers Association
Spencerport Teachers Association
Springville Faculty Association
Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association
Three Village Teachers Association
Troy Teachers Association
United Teachers of Harborfields
United Teachers of Seaford
Valley Stream Teachers Association
West Babylon Teachers Association
West Canada Valley Teachers Association
West Genesee Teachers’ Association
West Hempstead Education Association
West Islip Teachers’ Association
West Seneca Teachers Association

This is the resolution they support:

Resolution to Support “The I Refuse Movement” to Oppose High Stakes Testing

WHEREAS, the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives, not solely prepare that populace for college and career; and

WHEREAS, instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

WHEREAS, the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice; and

WHEREAS, high quality education requires adequate resources to provide a rich and varied course of instruction, individual and small group attention, and wrap-around services for students; and

WHEREAS, the state assessments are not transparent in that–teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available; and

WHEREAS, the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards – including the political manipulation of test scores – are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators; therefore be it

RESOLVED that NYSUT opposes standardized high stakes testing that is currently pushed by the Federal and State governments, because this testing is not being used to further instruction for children, to help children, or to support the educational needs of children; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT advocates for an engaged and socially relevant curriculum that is student-based and supported by research; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT will embark on internal discussions to educate and seek feedback from members regarding standardized high stakes testing and its impact on students; and be it further
RESOLVED, that NYSUT will lobby the NYS Board of Regents to eliminate the use of high stakes testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT will ask that all of its members have their own children refuse to take the Grade 3-8 assessments: and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT will organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to high stakes testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution will be sent to the NY State Board of Regents, the Governor of NYS, and all members of the NYS legislative branch; and be it finally
Resolved, that if after this resolution is passed at the 2015 NYSUT RA, the resolution be sent to the NYSUT Board of Directors for the purpose of having the NYSUT Board of Directors craft an appropriate version of the resolution that the NYSUT Board of Directors can vote to send to the American Federation of Teachers for consideration at the AFT July 2016 Convention.

Please encourage your members to purchase/replicate these bumper stickers/magnets to support test refusal as a way to stop corporate education reform.

http://www.cafepress.com/nysalliesforpubliceducation

Sorry to bombard you with emails about the budget deal but this is a big deal. Cuomo didn’t get everything he wanted–such as more charters (he may get that later) and tax credits for private and religious schools (aka vouchers), but he seems to have won some victories in his battle to grind teachers’ faces into the ground. Anyone who knows the research on teacher evaluation knows that Cuomo’s plan for “independent evaluators” (people from outside the school who spend a few minutes observing the teachers) and tying teacher evaluations to test scores has no basis in research or experience. It is not clear what the teacher evaluation plan will look like, because the budget deal is leaving it to the bureaucrats at the State Education Department to iron out the details.

 

This is what was just reported:

 

Assembly Democrats balked at a number of the education reform measures Cuomo had pushed.

 

But as the details emerge of the agreement from a senior administration official, Cuomo does appear to have won the inclusion of some of the education proposals, albeit with changes.

 

The agreement includes a new teacher evaluation criteria that will include both state-based tests as well as principal and independent observation. School districts can opt for a second test for teacher evaluations developed by the state Department of Education, according to an administration official.

 

However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Sunday night said the deal would vest more power in the Department of Education to set the evaluation criteria.

 

Fully fleshed out details on the evaluation criteria are expected to be included in budget bills.

 

Teacher evaluation criteria would be tied to tenure: Three out of four years a teacher must be given a rating of at least “effective” in order to receive tenure.

 

On the inverse, teachers that are deemed to be “ineffective” for two years in a row could be removed within 90 days. Teachers rated ineffective for three years in a row could be removed within 30 days.

 

School districts must implement the new evaluation criteria by November and doing so is linked to state education aid, the administration official said.

 

An administration official insisted on Sunday evening said the new evaluation criteria would need to be included in new contracts between teachers and districts, but would not be subject to collective bargaining with local units.

 

“It’s in the law,” the official said.

 

The budget includes a plan for school receivership. Schools deemed to be struggling or “failing” have a school district put forward a turn around plan to the state Department of Education, which could either approve the plan or have the school taken over by an independent monitor.

 

A city official briefed on the plan pointed some local control components for the city education chancellor.

 

The first batch of schools up for review would have to be deemed “failing” over the last 10 years, with the second batch deemed “failing” for the last three years.

 

The fight over education policy in the budget was one of the more pitched in recent years, as Cuomo tangled with the highly organized teachers unions both in the city and statewide.

 

Both the New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers accused Cuomo of strengthening charters at the expense of public education and as way of rewarding the deep-pocketed campaign contributors who also support charter networks.

 

Governor Cuomo, who did not attend public schools and whose children did not attend public schools, who has never been a teacher and who knows nothing about how to evaluate teachers, is wreaking his vengeance on the state teachers’ union for failing to endorse his re-election. It does not reflect well our society when elected officials make decisions about how to run schools, how to reform schools, how to evaluate teachers and principals, and when to close schools. There are not qualified to do so.

 

 

The Wall Street Journal reports on some details of New York’s just concluded budget deal:

 

 

The centerpiece of the budget, an ethics overhaul, will require state lawmakers to disclose sources of outside income exceeding $1,000 a year, as well as the services they perform to receive it. And it will force those who work as lawyers or in other client-based jobs to disclose the identity of their clients, with exceptions to be approved by the state ethics agency…..

 

The governor’s push to overhaul public education, partly through instituting a new teacher-evaluation system, was one of the most contentious holdups. The budget agreement puts the job of refining the teacher-evaluation process in the hands of the state education department, and ties it to teacher tenure, which will be available after four years instead of the current three.

 

A joint statement released Sunday by the governor’s office and legislative leaders noted that the deal boosted school aid by $1.4 billion—to $23.5 billion—without specifying changes that the governor said in his budget request that he would require as a condition of increasing school funding.

 

But the spending plan contains few other major policy initiatives—a consequence of the governor’s insistence on including the package of ethics overhauls.

 

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared to sacrifice leverage on other agenda items when he prioritized ethics overhauls, saying he wouldn’t sign off on a budget deal that excluded that package. The bulk of it did end up in the budget.

 

But cut out of the spending plan were many other items Mr. Cuomo highlighted in his combined state-of-the-state and executive budget address this year, including raising the cap on charter schools; mayoral control of schools, which New York City Mayor Bill de Blasiohas advocated; a measure that would bar minors from being tried as adults; and a plan for an independent monitor for police-brutality cases.

 

There are two court cases challenging teacher tenure, one brought by TV journalist Campbell Brown, the other by New York parent Mona Davids. The change in tenure from three years to four years puts New York in a very different position from California, where the Vergara decision overturned a tenure period that was only 18 months long (two school years of nine months each) before teachers were eligible to receive the right to due process.

Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a budget agreement.

Everyone patted each other on the back. We will learn the details in the next few days. Many unanswered questions. Did Cuomo gain new power to take over low-performing schools? Who will decide about teacher and principal evaluations? Stay tuned.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127,559 other followers