Archives for category: Cuomo, Andrew

A teacher wrote this little essay and dedicated it to Governor Andrew Cuomo:

“There is a man in Albany, who I surmise, by his clamorous paroxysms, has an extreme aversion to educators. He sees teachers as curs, or likens them to mangy dogs. Methinks he suffers from a rare form of psychopathology in which he absconds with our dignity by enacting laws counterintuitive to the orthodoxy of educational leadership. We have given him sufferance for far too long. He’s currently taking a circuitous path to DC, but he will no doubt soon find himself in litigious waters. The time has come to bowdlerize his posits, send him many furlongs away, and maroon him there, maybe Cuba?

She added:

I’m not supposed to say this, but all these insanely hard words appeared on the 4,6, and 8th grade tests last week.

Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the Néw York Board of Regents, has delayed implementation of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s draconian and misguided plan to evaluate teachers by test scores.

When Néw York sought Race to the Top money, it promised that test scores would count for 20%. Under pressure from Governor Cuomo, the proportion rose to 40%. Cuomo was angry when almost every teacher was rated effective or highly effective. He wanted to fire teachers. Tisch wrote a letter to Chomo agreeing with his demand to raise the testing proportion to 50%.

The legislature caved during budget negotiations and passed a “matrix” that implies 50% but left the final determination to the Regents. Tisch decided more time was necessary and extended the deadline.

The sad part of this drama is that no one ever refers to research. Numerous studies and reports have refuted the validity of test scores for measuring teacher quality. Start with the American Statistical Association’s statement on VAM. There are too many variables that the teacher does not control that influence test scores.

The current dispute seems to be about whether to misjudge teacher quality sooner or later.

Sadly, Governor Andrew Cuomo was unable to give the keynote speech at the fund-raising dinner for Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter chain because he was leading a trade delegation to Cuba, but the charter chain still raised $9.3 million from her supporters in the hedge-fund community.


Education activist Leonie Haimson reports a story that appears behind a paywall at Be sure the read the report embedded at the end of the story below, about the hedge-fund managers and conservatives who support Success Academy. The report was compiled by the “HedgeClippers,” a group that calls itself “dark money’s newest nightmare.” The report lists the 50 hedge fund managers, spouses, and allies who contribute to Success Academy.


by Jessica Bakeman, Eliza Shapiro and Conor Skelding


SUCCESS ACADEMY’S $9.3 M. NIGHT—Capital’s Eliza Shapiro and Conor Skelding: “The Success Academy charter school network raised $9.3 million at its third annual spring benefit on Monday night, according to an attendee, up from $7.7 million at last year’s benefit. The figure was announced by Dan Loeb, a hedge fund manager who serves as the chairman of Success’ board of directors. The event was held at Cipriani in midtown Manhattan. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries delivered the keynote address at the benefit, in lieu of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was slated to give the keynote before his trade visit to Cuba was planned for the same day.


“Jeffries, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, is a longtime supporter of charter schools. ‘I stand here because I unequivocally support quality public education and that’s what Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy provide,’ Jeffries said during his speech, according to a quote posted on Success’ Twitter account. ‘It’s easier to raise strong children than it is to repair broken men,’ he also said.


“Television host Katie Couric, Weekly Standard founder William Kristol, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Gregory Meeks of Queens and former Department of Education chancellor Joel Klein also attended the benefit, according to the attendee and Twitter posts. Loeb, philanthropist Eli Broad, and Campbell Brown, the television anchor turned education reformer, spoke. Brown sits on Success’ board of directors. Success’ controversial founder and C.E.O. Eva Moskowitz addressed the crowd, asking audience members to ‘visit our schools and become an ambassador for education reform,’ according to Success’ Twitter feed.” [PRO]


—Meanwhile, “an advocacy group affiliated with the Alliance for Quality Education, a teachers’ union-backed organization, has released a report on the donors and board members of the Success Academy charter school network. The report, released by the group HedgeClippers, details the well-documented support the controversial network has received from hedge fund managers in particular. HedgeClippers describes itself as ‘dark money’s newest nightmare’ and is backed by the Strong Economy for all Coalition, which is, in turn, partially funded by teachers’ unions, including the United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers.


“The report argues that ‘many of Success Academy’s hedge fund board members contribute to political causes that harm the population that Success claims to serve’ by supporting various conservative causes. … Success C.E.O. Eva Moskowitz has responded to criticism about the network’s donors by pointing to the long history of philanthropic giving to education causes, and noting that hedge fund managers also give to organizations that support parks, museums and domestic violence centers.” Capital’s Eliza Shapiro:

Andrew Cuomo can put one notch on his belt. Carol Burris is stepping down. He better have a very big belt because his hatred for teachers eill drive out many from the profession. who will replace? Does he care? The much-honored principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center decided to retire early because of Cuomo’s punitive law. Morally and ethically, she could not continue to work in the environment he has created.

She said:

“We are now turning our backs on the very experiences that build on our children’s natural strengths in order to pursue higher test scores in this era of corporate reform. We have become blind to indicators of quality that can’t be demonstrated on a scan sheet.

“The opinions of billionaires and millionaires who send their own children to private schools awash in the arts hold more sway than those of us who have dedicated our lives to teaching children. In the words of our chancellor [Merryl Tisch], we who object are “noise.”

“Much to the dismay of Albany, the noise level is on the rise since the passage of a new teacher evaluation system that elevates the role of testing. I am not sure why I was shocked when the legislature actually adopted the nonsensical evaluation plan designed by a governor who is determined to break the spirit of teachers, but I was. What is even more shocking is the legislature’s refusal to admit what they did, which was to create a system in which 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on test scores. Whether that denial comes from ignorance or willful deceit doesn’t matter. It is inexcusable.

“What will happen to our profession is not hard to predict. Since the state has generated student “growth” scores, the scores of 7 percent of all elementary and middle school principals are labeled ineffective. Likewise, 6-7 percent of Grades 4-8 teachers of English Language Arts and math received ineffective growth scores. That is because the metrics of the system produce a curve.

“Based on the law, we know before even one test is given that at least 7 percent of teachers and principals, regardless of their supervisors’ opinion, will need to be on an improvement plan. They will be labeled either developing or ineffective. We have no idea what growth scores for high school teachers and teachers of the arts will look like — that has been, in the words of Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, “punted” to a State Education Department. Yes, they [state lawmakers] have turned the football over to the folks whom they publicly berate for the botched rollout of the Common Core.

“Well, the legislature has woken a sleeping giant. Around the state today parents are saying “no more.” The robust opt-out movement, which began on Long Island, has now spread across rural and suburban areas in upstate New York as well. Over 75 percent of the students in Allendale Elementary School in West Seneca refused the Common Core tests today. In the Dolgeville district, the number is 88 percent. Over 70 percent of the students in the Icabod Crane Elementary and Middle School refused. On Long Island, 82 percent of Comsewogue students, 68 percent of Patchogue Medford students and 61 percent of Rockville Centre students opted out of the tests. And that is but a sample.

“This is happening because the bond between students and teachers is understood and valued by the parents we serve. They have no stomach for the inevitable increased pressures of testing. Through opt out, they are speaking loud and clear.”

“She is not going away. She was already a leader in the battle against corporate reform. She has written many posts for Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog at the Washington Post. She will write more. Now she is joining the fight to save children and public education from corporate raiders full-time. Hers will be an experienced, wise voice in the fight for democratic public education.

Long Island, Néw York, is indeed the epicenter of opt out. The numbers are coming in, and they are historic. Never before have so many parents withheld their children from state testing to protest the overuse and misuse of testing.

The Long Island Press continues to be the best source of information for LI activism, and its reporter Jaime Franchi continues to provide excellent coverage (by contrast, the Néw York Times had not a single word about the statewide and national opt outs, but a front-page story about the Atlanta educators who were sentenced to jail). The corporate-owned Newsday has a larger circulation but has been consistently hostile to teachers and opting out. This is odd because the populous island that is mostly suburban has some of the best public schools in the state.

Franchi writes:

“With day one of three controversial Common Core ELA (English Language Arts) examinations for grades three through eight completed in New York State, the total score of students refusing to take the tests continues to rise exponentially.

“Compiled by Jeanette Deutermann, founder of anti-Common Core Facebook group “Long Island Opt Out” and a founding member of New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of 50 parent and teacher organizations who oppose the standardized tests, Long Island school officials—including Board of Education members, administrators and educators, she says—are reporting an astounding number of test refusals.

“As of press time, her preliminary unofficial count from more than half the 124 school districts on Long Island had already tallied more than 62,000 students opting out—more than last year’s total figure for the entire state and double the 30,000 students from across Long Island who refused the tests last year—according to a Google Drive spreadsheet on Long Island Opt Out’s Facebook page. Comsewogue School District, home base of vocal public education advocates including Dr. Joe Rella, its superintendent, and Beth Dimino, an eighth grade science teacher and president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, who stood as a “conscientious objector” earlier this year and vowed to refuse to administer Common Core exams to students, saw 82 percent of their eligible students refuse the test–a new record for that district.

“Sisi Wong Townson, co-president of the Plainedge Middle School PTA, reports that a record-shattering 74 percent of Plainedge students opted out of the test yesterday, including an entire third-grade class. A vocal opponent of high-stakes standardized testing, she testified against Common Core before New York State legislators two years ago drawing upon her personal experience as a student in Hong Kong.”

Patricia Fahy, a member of the Néw York State Assembly, tries to explain her vote on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget bill. The worst part of the budget, she knew, was his demand to make 50% of teachers’ evaluations dependent on test scores. If no budget passed, Cuomo could impose his plan by fiat. Democracy, anyone?

The Assembly got the Governor to agree to allow the state Board of Regents to make the final determination on teacher evaluation, although they still must rely on an “independent evaluator” (an unfunded mandate) and test scores. Fahy refers to the Regents as “education professionals.” That is true of some, not all, of the Regents.

Readers in Néw York, how many Regents are “education professionals,” people who have had careers in education? To the credit of the Assembly, they recently elected four new members who are education professionals. In the past, that has not been a requisite. (Several years ago, my name was suggested as a candidate for the Regents. I talked to elected officials in Brooklyn, and they encouraged me to meet with the Speaker of the Assembly, whose word was determinative. Accompanied by an elected official, I was interviewed by Speaker Sheldon Silver’s top assistant. After half an hour of questions, she told me I knew too much to be a Regent. Unbelievable but true.)

From Fahy’s article:


“In the final few days of the budget negotiations, the most contentious part was the teacher evaluations (APPR) linked with excessive testing – an issue which has been debated for the last three out of four years in the legislature. I had and continue to have serious misgivings about this final bill language and have been actively advocating to ensure the most flexible interpretation of the language along with amendments where needed. While the language was troubling and rushed, one positive was delegating the evaluation issue away from the legislature and the Governor to the Board of Regents, who are the appointed education professionals. Despite having strongly opposed some of the previous work of the Regents with regard to testing and implementation of the common core standards, we have a slate of new Regents, who have been given parameters to work within.


“We need to change the conversation about education. We can no longer look at the very people who can help our children – our teachers – as the scapegoats for problems in education. We can no longer continue to value a standardized test that is so flawed parents are more concerned about their children taking it than passing it. We can no longer focus on underperforming schools and expect the teachers and staff to correct every social ill of the community and society. The solution must be multi-pronged and go beyond the school doors.


“I understand the frustration and the concern, I share it, and have already reached out to the Regents and more to begin work to maximize flexibility and seek changes where needed. This omnibus bill was not an easy vote and our work does not end with this vote.”

When Governor Cuomo’s budget was passed by the Néw York State Senate, it included mandates for test-score based evaluation of teachers and other provisions that teachers found insulting. Here is the State Senate’s Wall of Shame and Wall of Fame, identifying those who voted for and against this anti-teacher legislation. I previously posted a similar chart for the New York Assembly. Save this list for the next election if you live in New York.






A reader recommends the two videos below, which were made during the debate about the New York state budget. Assemblyman Jim Tedesco, a Republican, spoke out against the anti-teacher, anti-public education bill devised by Governor Cuomo. In the second video, he dares the Governor to take the fifth grade math test! Mr. Tedesco has served in the New York State Assembly since 1983. In the legislative chamber, he stands out because he has a graduate degree in special education, was a teacher and a guidance counselor. For his defense of a noble profession and common sense, he joins the honor roll of this blog.



New York is circling the drain. But this guy belongs on the honor roll! Jim Tedesco. Republican and an ex teacher. He shouldn’t have said he was an ex educator, like saying I used to work at Enron. After this he dared the Governor to take the 5th grade exam.


The second video is more entertaining than the first.

Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, has proposed that high-performing districts be exempted from the harsh and punitive teacher evaluation program proposed by Governor Cuomo and passed by the Legislature. This would create a two-track system: one for affluent districts, the other for the less fortunate.

Behind the proposal, I suspect, is a strong desire to defang the Opt Out movement. Divide and conquer. Mollify the angry suburban moms and saddle everyone else with a harmful regime.

Daniel Katz predicts that Tisch’s proposal would destroy the careers of large numbers of black and Hispanic teachers. The plan will devastate many teachers, wherever it is fully implemented. Why focus the harm on the poorest districts?

Mark Naison of Fordham University writes:

When Democracy Died in the New York State Assembly

Something inside me died tonight in the New York State Assembly. Democratic legislator after Democratic legislator, some who claimed to be lifelong friends of public education, some who were once teachers themselves, caved in and voted for a bill that was going to add to the test burden on the already over tested children of the state, subject teachers to more scripting and more intimidation than they already had to endure and strip power away from principals and local school districts.

Many knew what they voted for was wrong. Many said so in their remarks. But they caved in and voted for a measure that was going to make the lives of their constituents miserable, our of fear, cowardice and a refusal to consider how their actions might look in the broad sweep of historical events

And their actions alerted me to something I had feared for some time. That the voices of ordinary citizens had become so smothered by the power of great wealth that all social policies were now held hostage to the pursuit of private gain. That political leaders, irrespective of political party, no longer felt a moral imperative to consider the “public good;” that they could pay lip service to that ideal in communicating with constituents, but when the chips were down, they would always vote for the interests of the rich and powerful.

I had used certain language, I once though loosely, to describe our current predicament. Words like “Oligarchy” and “Plutocracy.”

Tonight, I realized that those terms were rather precise descriptions of our current political arrangements

The interests of the children, the families, the teachers, the principals and the elected school board of our state were treated as impediments to a vision of educational transformation that handed power and funding over to private interests whose contributions filled the campaign coffers of officials of both parties. That such a give away of power and money took place in a Budget bill that included “ethics reform” made it all the more ironic

This was one of the most blatant displays of political cynicism and political corruption that I have seen in my lifetime.

It was quite literally sickening

I mourn for the children. I mourn for the teachers. I mourn for the principals. I mourn for the schools that will be closed; the school districts that will be taken into receivership.

And I mourn for the democratic spirit, which has disappeared from the political culture of the state and nation in which I live.

I will never accept this as the norm. I will never accommodate to cowardice and evil

And I will not be alone.


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