Archives for category: Cuomo, Andrew

Jamaal Bowman wrote a powerful and important letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Bowman is a Néw York City middle school principal.

Please read and share. Help it go viral. It is an incisive critique of corporate reform. When did it become “liberal” to attack unions, career teachers, and public education? This used to be the agenda of the far rightwing of the Republican Party.

He writes:

“I hope this letter finds you and your family in good health and good spirits. I write not only to you, but also to those who share your view of public education….

“I also want to personally thank you for allowing me to provide testimony to the common core commission at the College of New Rochelle…..The work of the commission, along with your hiring of Jere Hochman as Deputy Secretary of Education, has me very excited about the direction in which we are moving.

“My excitement turned to devastation however as I watched your November 17th interview with David Gergen at the Harvard Kennedy School of Public Leadership [link to video is in Bowman’s post]. As an education practitioner for sixteen years, it was both frustrating and disheartening to watch the two of you pontificate about public education in what I consider to be a dangerous and irresponsible manner.

“Your discussion was wide ranging; covering topics from police reform to the new construction at LaGuardia Airport. As the conversation shifted to education, you told the audience that you are in constant conflict with the teacher union. You shared that your “unabashed” support for charter schools, to which you refer to as “laboratories of invention,” as well as your teacher evaluation mandate, are two of the causes of this conflict. You also went on to share your excitement around the possibilities of technology as a means to help circumvent the “machine” of the teacher union bureaucracy.

“Mr. Gergen, to whom you refer to as one of the experts and craftsman of his generation, recklessly framed the conversation in a way that greatly mis-categorizes the public education narrative. Mr. Gergen stated that teacher unions don’t want “young smart” people from Teach for America entering the profession. He then went on to praise charter schools as places that provide “24/7 support to children and families,” and “really work with the children themselves.” While Mr. Gergen made these comments, you nodded your head enthusiastically in agreement.

“There are two things that are incredibly careless about this conversation. First, it lacks a valid and reliable research base. Second, the two of you have a platform to really shape public discourse. As such, you must take extra special care to avoid facilitating misinformation regarding public education or any other topic. If you don’t, the perpetuation of child suffering will continue in schools throughout the state — as it does in schools all over the country.

“What does the data tell us about these widely discussed topics? First, public schools as a whole “outperform” charter schools. I place the word outperform in quotes because of our narrow view of what it means to perform in public schools today. The few charter schools that are celebrated for closing the alleged “achievement gap” have faced extreme criticism and scrutiny for their draconian test prep and recruitment practices, and boast incredibly high student and staff attrition rates. Some may argue these practices are the price to pay for achievement, but consider these questions:

“Are we ready to accept the instability and emotional trauma that comes with schools designed around draconian test prep practices?

“Does high performance on standardized assessments truly equate to what we all mean by achievement?
Research shows otherwise: In 2003, the “gold standard” of charter schools, KIPP, had a graduating class that ranked fifth in New York City on the math standardized tests. Six years after entering college, only 21% of that cohort had earned a college degree.

“In the landmark book, ‘Crossing The Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities,’ former college presidents William G. Bowen and Michael S. McPherson found that student high school G.P.A. was more predictive of college success than S.A.T. scores.

“As you can see Mr. Governor, high performance on standardized tests alone do not equate to a quality education. What research identifies as a determinate of quality schools, lies in a well rounded curriculum inclusive of both academic and adaptive skills, where students get to solve problems creatively, work with their peers, and experience both teacher and student centered pedagogy.

“As to your comments regarding charter schools serving as “labs of invention,” allow me to remind you that some of the most innovative schools in the country are public schools right here in your state. From the NYC iSchool, to Westside Collaborative, to Brooklyn New School, to Quest to Learn, there is amazing work happening in unionized public schools that we all can learn from. Charter schools that promote silent breakfast, silent lunch, silent hallway transitions, and have teachers walking around with clipboards to give demerits to students who misbehave, do not sound like labs of invention to me — they sound like labs of oppression.

“Your statement related to wanting teacher evaluations because “right now we have none” is categorically false. Teachers have been evaluated throughout my entire career. With regard to the new evaluation system, the issue isn’t that teachers are averse to evaluations, they just want evaluations that are fair and just. An evaluation that is 50% aligned to invalid and unreliable tests, created by a 3rd party for-profit company, aligned to new standards and curriculum with minimal teacher input, is both unfair and unjust. What makes matters worse is by continuing to turn a deaf ear to the research on child and brain development, we continue to have an achievement gap that will never be closed by an evaluation system tied to test scores.

“Furthermore, why are charter schools exempt from your teacher evaluation plan? That also doesn’t seem fair or just.

“Regarding Mr. Gergen’s comments, teacher unions aren’t afraid of “young smart” teachers entering the profession. On the contrary, that is what they want! Teacher unions oppose Teach for America (TFA) because the majority of TFA recruits leave the classroom within three years, with most leaving the profession entirely. This obviously creates a continued vacuum in our most vulnerable communities and has indirectly undermined the recruitment and stability of teachers via traditional pathways. Further, Teach for America has been around for 25 years and our so called “achievement gap” has grown. Their impact has been a net zero at best for the profession.

“Mr. Gergen also seems to think only charter schools support students and families 24/7. To this I say check my phone records, and the phone records of educators throughout the country. We all love our students as our own children and we are constantly in touch with families into the evenings and on weekends to support them with whatever they need. Mr. Gergen disrespects and undermines the profession with these nonsensical statements.

“Lastly, regarding your excitement for technology, technology is simply a tool to help us get things done more efficiently and effectively. It will not in and of itself “revolutionize public education” as you say. The education revolution begins with a paradigm shift driven by the needs and brilliance of the children we serve.

“If we really want to transform public education, Mr. Governor, we have to stop investing in purchasing, administering, and scoring annual assessments from grades 3-8. We know 3rd grade reading scores predict future outcomes, so let’s invest heavily in early childhood education, teacher training, and school support. Lets focus on birth to age eight programs, implement a strong literacy and Montessori curriculum, and institute portfolio based assessments and apprenticeships in grades 6-12. If we do this, you will have a model education system for the world to aspire to.

“Mr. Governor, you, like many of your elected colleagues, are lawyers, not educators. I am an educator. I have been throughout my professional life. I do not know the law, and would never try to speak with any conviction about what should happen in a courtroom. What’s most dangerous about the public education discourse is the fact that finance, tech, government, and the “elite” are all driving the conversation without educators included. They have the audacity, to make life-altering decisions for other people’s children, while sending their children to independent schools.

“The masses of people, which are our most vulnerable, continue to be handled without empathy or care. Empathy requires that we walk in the shoes of others; something that charter reformers, common core advocates, and Teach for America has never done.

“In closing, I want to turn your attention back to your announcement of the Common Core commission. Do you realize that in that speech you mentioned the word “standards” ten times, and the word “tests” fifteen times, while only mentioning the word “learning” one time? Standards and tests are meaningless if they aren’t grounded in learning. Learning is innate, natural, and driven by the needs of children. This is why we must change the conversation from standards and testing to teaching and learning. This fundamental flaw in ideology continues to lead our education system down a destructive path.

“Further, although you and Mr. Gergen discussed innovation as essential to moving the education agenda forward, during your Common Core commission announcement the words creativity, collaboration, and communication, which many experts believe are pillars of innovation, received a total of zero mentions. Innovation is not just about using a computer, tablet, or smartphone; innovation is a way of thinking, doing, and being.

“Thank you Mr. Governor for all that you do for our state. In the future please be mindful to handle the topic of public education with extreme care. Be weary of your pro charter school advisors. The charter school money train and gentrification plans are well documented. Our work isn’t about teacher unions, charters, or technology; our work is about children — and the future of our democracy.”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final say in reality.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Governor Cuomo couldn’t sleep, so he turned on a movie. It was scary. It was about machines talking back to people, machines smarter than people. Then he figured out that machines should teach children. Every child should have his or her own machine. That way, machines that are way smarter than people can teach children.


Makes sense? No.


Can someone please help Governor Cuomo get a good night’s sleep? What’s troubling him?

Fred LeBrun of the Albany-Times Union is the only journalist (to my knowledge) who gets the picture of the reform disaster in New York (especially after the NY Times mothballed the great Michael Winerip). 

He writes today:

Cuomo may have seen light on the Common Core mess

Fred LeBrun

Published 6:09 pm, Saturday, October 31, 2015 

Things are at long last looking up for beleaguered public education in this state, probably.


I’d like to say the likelihood of significant corrections coming to Common Core, excessive and inappropriate standardized testing, and a hard-wired connection between those tests and teachers’ jobs, is because the politician most responsible for the total mess we’re in, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has finally seen the light. 


His infatuation with data driven education ”reform,” fueled by millionaire political donors, has been a disaster, for him and for our children. It’s his law that’s codified the problem. It’s his law that needs amending.


But I have a hunch closer to the truth would be the sobering recognition by the governor that what desperately needs fixing and quick are persistently in-the-toilet poll numbers over his intrusive handling of education issues.


Voters get it. 


Especially with Judgment Day a mere five months away, when the next round of standardized tests are mandated in English and math for grades 4 to 8. That’s also about the time we are apt to see a parental opt-out uprising across the state of a scary magnitude if big changes aren’t already made or in the works.


So Cuomo needs to distance himself from his own mess pronto and be part of the solution rather than the problem for a change. 


He’s emphatically called for a ”total reboot” of the Common Core system while avoiding any mention of prior ownership or responsibility, and his new task force looking into it is remarkably different attitudinally than the last one Cuomo convened that delivered the Common Core manure heap as the divine word, with no dissent allowed.


This time, dissent prevails — and it’s about time.


The first public meeting of the governor’s Common Core task force last week at the College of New Rochelle in Westchester County heard presentations and comments from anti-testing activists and a leader of the opt-out movement calling for the immediate decoupling of student test scores from teacher evaluations.


Speakers also included those successfully working with Common Core standards, but still calling for changes, such as greater flexibility for school districts, more local control of the process, a diversity of approaches, and the building of trust among parents, teachers and school districts. What’s heartening is that the governor’s office, of course, controlled the panel process because that’s the way they operate, and the fact that divergent views were incorporated is striking. 


Nothing like that happened with the first task force. But, there was no public comment period in New Rochelle. 


Whether we’re witnessing just more window dressing from the governor or a meaningful attempt at fixing what’s broken will be evident Friday when simultaneous public hearings by the task force will be held all over the state, with public comment.


Perhaps the most encouraging sign of all is the governor bringing Jere Hochman, superintendent of the Bedford school district, into the administration as his top education adviser. 

Hochman has been a consistent critic of the administration’s policies, reportedly even tacitly encouraging opt-out. The lower Hudson Valley, where he’s from, has been a center of parental outrage over Common Core.


Again, whether Hochman is window dressing, or one of the architects of change, will be evident soon enough. 


The State of the State, at which Cuomo is expected to announce his recommendations for changes to his education ”reform” act, is a scant two months away.


The announced departure of state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch is also great news. 


It’s not just that she backed the wrong horses pushing for hurry-up implementation of Common Core before anyone was ready, and a perfectly idiotic teacher evaluation system, but in truth she was a prominent nag in that stable, a major player. 


Before you feel too sorry for her, remember that Tisch was more than willing to sacrifice a generation of our schoolchildren and the state’s teacher corps to her cause. Deliver us from the ideologues. So good riddance. Her leaving is favorable news for the future of the Regents, and for the anticipated recommendations from their own task force to the governor and Legislature for changes to Common Core and teacher evaluations. 


Without Tisch in the mix, significant ties are cut to the failed policies of President Barack Obama, outgoing U.S. Education Commissioner Arne Duncan, and former state Education Department Commissioner John King. King, meanwhile, has been booted up to the very top of the ladder as Duncan’s interim successor when he leaves at the end of the year But the operative word that fits like a blanket over that whole lot of them when it comes to education policy is failure.


Meanwhile, still another encouraging tea leaf is the state Education Department giving, as promised, more than three-quarters of the school districts in the state waivers from the draconian teacher and principal evaluation formulas built into Cuomo’s education reform law. The stage is set for change. School districts are taking a pass in anticipation that better times are coming.


Now, the devil remains in the details, and forgive the state’s teachers, educators — and parents — for being skeptical. The last five years has been a horror show. At the very least sole reliance on the flawed ”growth score” from standardized tests in evaluating teacher performance has to change. It’s written in the law. Student performance, and an appropriate level of teacher accountability, can be measured in a number of different ways, and alternatives need to be part of the dialogue. Common Core standards need new flexibilities, and a total rethink down in the lower grades where serious issues of developmentally inappropriate testing, questions, and frequency are recurring criticisms.


It won’t be all that hard to torque the law back to reasonable. Now let’s see it happen before we break out the confetti. • 518-454-5453

Richard Parsons, chair of Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Commission, works for a firm that invests in education technology and has contracts with the state, according to the Long Island Business News.

“One of the governor’s chief education advisers is employed by a firm that does millions of dollars of business with the state’s schools, although that has not been disclosed to the public.
“Richard Parsons, the leader of an earlier state education commission that recommended heavy investment in technology and head of a new education task force, works for a company whose principal holdings include an education technology firm that does a substantial business with the state.
“Parsons, the former chairman of Citigroup and CEO and chairman of Time Warner, was recently named the head of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force on the Common Core.
“Since 2009 he has been a senior adviser at Providence Equity Partners – whose principal holdings include numerous education technology firms. The state disclosed his position there, but did not indicate that Providence had any involvement in education technology firms.
“That definitely should have been disclosed,” said one education official who asked not to be identified. “I knew him from Time Warner….

“Providence owns Blackboard, a high-tech education firms whose roots go back to a consulting firm founded in 1997 to work with non-profit IMS Global Learning Consortium and merged with CourseInfo the following year.
“Venture capital firms and venture capital arms of companies such as Pearson, Dell, AOL, The Carlyle Group and Novak Biddle Venture Partners all took stakes in Blackboard, which went public in 2004.
“Investors led by Providence Equity Partners later bought Blackboard for $1.64 billion, taking the firm private. Blackboard remains one of Providence’s key holdings with contracts around the country, including New York State.
“Blackboard in December of 2011 obtained a $6.8 million contract for the State University of New York system, according to state records, in 2012 obtained another $1 million contract and in 2014 obtained a $7.5 million contract.
The company also obtained a $5.9 million contract with the City University of New York in 2012, followed by an additional $1 million contract over the next two years.
“Blackboard has been building its New York business, even as Parsons has risen to a high rank among the state’s education advisers.

“Allison Breidbart White, a critic of the Common Core and of the task force Gov. Andrew Cuomo created, said there is “no doubt, lots of conflict of interest on that panel, not just with Parsons.”
“He also served as the head of the governor’s 2012 committee to reform education that recommended heavily investing in technology.
“The state indicates that the New York Education Reform Commission that Parsons led “played an instrumental role in developing a blueprint to improve the quality of education for all students through its final report in January 2014.”
“The New York Education Reform Commission under Parsons focused heavily on the benefits of and need to spend heavily on rolling out more technology.
Read more:

Tim Farley, principal of an elementary/middle school in upstate New York and founding member of New York State Allies for Public Education, writes here that the new Obama testing policy might increase the time spent testing students.

Andrew Cuomo, governor of Néw York, was quick to applaud the Ibama plan and to note with pride that New York had already enacted a 2% cap on testing time.

Farley writes:

“In New York, as Cuomo has reminded us, we already have a 2% cap on time spent on standardized testing. What does that actually mean? In New York we have 180 school days and an average school day runs about 6.5 hours. If one does the math that’s 180 x 6.5 x 2% = 23.4 hours of testing. So, by law, we cannot exceed 23.4 hours of standardized testing in grades 3–8.

“This begs the question — How much time do kids in grades 3–8 spend on the state tests in English Language Arts and math? If you are a general education student, you will spend roughly nine hours in a testing room for both the ELA and math tests. If you are a student with a learning disability (SWD), and you have a testing accommodation of “double time,” you get to sit in a testing location for eighteen hours. As insane as that seems, it is still 5.4 hours short of the time allowed by law. A 2% cap isn’t a step forward, it’s a giant leap backward.

“How much testing is too much? I don’t know the magic number that will give the state education departments and the U.S. Department of Education the data they supposedly need in order to determine the effectiveness of the schools, but I do know that nine hours of testing is too much for a nine-year-old, eighteen hours is abusive for nine-year-olds with a learning disability, and 23.4 hours of testing for a child at any age is criminal.”

A reader sent this article about the remarkable and surprising career of Richard Parsons, the businessman who will chair the Cuomo Commission to review the Common Core standards and assessments.

Parsons, the article says, is a glorious exemplar of “failing up,” something that happens only in the business world. He dropped out of high school and got a GED. He dropped out of the University of Hawaii. Nonetheless, he entered the corporate world and moved up and up. He was chairman of the Dime Savings Bank, which failed. He was chairman of AOL Time Warner, which was a disastrous merger. He then became chairman of Citigroup. That did not end well either.

Last month, shareholders finally rebelled against Citigroup, the worst of the Too Big To Fail bailout disasters, by filing a lawsuit against outgoing chairman Dick Parsons and handful of executives for stuffing their pockets while running the bank into the ground.
Anyone familiar with Dick Parsons’ past could have told you his term as Citigroup’s chairman would end like this: Shareholder lawsuits, executive pay scandals, and corporate failure on a colossal scale. It’s the Dick Parsons Management Style. In each of the three companies Parsons was appointed to lead, they all failed spectacularly, and somehow Parsons and a handful of top executives always walked away from the yellow-tape crime scenes unscathed.

This past April, for his final act as Citigroup’s chairman, Dick Parsons made sure that Citi’s top executives were handsomely rewarded for their failures. He arranged a pay package for CEO Vikram Pandit amounting to $53 million despite the fact that Citi’s stock plummeted 44% last year, and has woefully underperformed other bank stocks even by their low standards.

Citigroup, as you might recall, got the largest bailout of any banking institution, larger than BofA’s– $50 billion in direct funds, and over $300 billion more in “stopgap” federal guarantees on the worthless garbage in Citi’s “assets” portfolio. Those are just the most obvious bailouts Citi received—this doesn’t take into account the flood of free cash, the murky mortgage-backed securities buyback programs, the accounting rules changes that allowed banks like Citi to decide how much their assets “should be worth” as opposed to what they’re really worth on their beloved free-market, and so on…
So just as Dick Parsons stepped down as Citigroup chairman last month, shareholders finally rebelled, suing Parsons, CEO Pandit and a handful of executives for corporate plunder.

How to explain his miraculous rise to the top?

Dick Parsons’ biography can be summed up in two phases of his life: before meeting Nelson Rockefeller, and after meeting Nelson Rockefeller.
Before meeting Nelson Rockefeller, Dick Parsons was a self confessed clown from a middle-class African-American family in Brooklyn. “Left to my own devices, I don’t feel any compulsion to strive,” he told to the New York Times. Race was never an issue with Parsons either: ”I don’t have any experience in my life where someone rejected me for race or any other reason.’

So Parsons dropped out of high school with a “C” average, earning a GED certificate. He enrolled in the University of Hawaii for reasons he could never really explain, joined a frat, and became their social chairman. As one of Parsons’ frat brohs recalled to journalist Nina Munk, “Here’s this guy who’s at the bar sixty-seven days in a row and, as you can imagine, he did very poorly in school.”

Parsons did worse than poorly: He flunked out of U. Hawaii. Without earning a degree.

And then slacker Dick Parsons met oligarch Nelson Rockefeller, and from here on out, Parsons lived out a Cinderella fairytale for the One Percenters. As luck would have it, Dick Parsons’ grandfather was once a favorite groundskeeper at the famous Rockefeller Compound in Pocantico Hills and lived in a hut on in the shadow of the oligarchs’ mansion. Soon, Dick Parsons and his wife would move into one of those same groundskeepers huts under Nelson Rockefeller’s patronage.

As Parsons later admitted, “The old-boy network lives…I didn’t grow up with any of the old boys. I didn’t go to school with any of the old boys. But by becoming a part of that Rockefeller entourage, that created for me a group of people who’ve looked out for me ever since.”

Just the right person to lead the Cuomo Commission on the Common Core standards and assessments. Especially given his deep knowledge of standards, assessment, and curriculum.

Leaders of the Opt Out movement are disgusted by Governor Cuomo’s appointment of a commission that ignores parents of the 220,000 children who opted out of state testing. Does the Governor expect to get fresh thinking or a serious curriculum review from the chairpersons of the Senate and Assembly Education Committee? Or from the President of the State University of New York, who has a full-time job (and is a strong supporter of Common Core)?

Here is a full list of Commission members.

Jeanette Deutermann, leader of Long Island Opt Out, did some research on some of the educators and parents who are members of the Cuomo commission. She was assisted by parent leader Michele Trageser.
She shared it with me and allowed me to post it here.

The chair of the Commission is Richard Parsons.

Richard Parsons – appointed chair of the task force. His bio states he is Chairman of the Board of Citigroup, in addition to being senior Advisor of Providence Equity Partners. He left Citigroup in 2012 to focus on a new jazz club an Italian vineyard, and various board memberships. He has been CEO of the LA Clippers since 2014. Mr. Parsons was also head of Cuomo’s previous Education Reform Commission in 2012. You know the one that recommended expanding charter schools to Pre-K. The one that said NY should “promote increased access to educational opportunities by encouraging school district restructuring and consolidation. He must like Charters considering he spent time on the advisory board of Deborah Kenny’s Charter network, Harlem Village Academies.

Here are sketches of some of the other members:

Mr. Geoffrey Canada – founder of Harlem Children’s Zone and who was the “star “, along with his ed reform agenda of Waiting for Superman. A New York Times Article called the Harlem Children’s Zone, “One of the most ambitious social policy experiments of our time”. In April of 2014, Governor Cuomo appointed Mr. Canada as one of three members of the Smart Schools Commission, who were charged with advising the state on how to best invest the $2 billion Smart School Bond money.

Constance Evelyn – Superintendent of Valley Stream District 13 on Long Island. Ms Evelyn has made no secret of her love for Common Core up until now. In a piece on the engage NY website on December 2013, she states that the implementation has been difficult, but is worth it. She then proceeds to state what teachers and students say they the like and are different (aka better) with common core. She claims teachers say that with common core, students “read like detectives”, “respond to difficult text with details and dig deeper into the text”, and “collaborate with peers and think critically”. Again, are they saying that these things are because of common core, and that they didn’t happen before? In a response to a memo from John King, Ms Evelyn stated “ We must challenge our students differently than we have in the past. The Common Core represents a necessary and dramatic shift that strengthens both the call and case for rigor. These standards focus our attention on learning targets that systematically integrate skills in reading, literacy, writing, and higher order thinking. I’m excited about the doors that will be opened by the new standards for my child and every student that has the good fortune of living in a state that made the decision to adopt them.”

Ms. Heather Buskirk – . In addition to being a national Board Certified Teacher of physics and math , she is one of the 2015 America Achieves NY Educator Voice Fellows: The people who get paid a stipend to promote Common Core . The Fellowship website states the educators in the fellowship need to write and publish op eds, and utilize social media to “positively communicate and elevate the conversation in support of college and career ready standards” aka the Common Core Standards.

Carol Conklin Spillane – Principal of Sleepy Hollow High School. While she has spoken out against linking student performance to accountability , it was more along the lines of it happening too fast. She stated, “In my opinion, the move to Common Core is a good initiative that is unfortunately mired in the multiplicity of political agendas (Race to the Top).

Kishayna Hazelwood – third grade teacher from PS 156 in Brooklyn. No info aside from her task force bio is available.

Carrie Remis – listed as Rochester area parent. A former Catholic School administrator and head of the Parent Power Project. She also served on a member of Cuomo’s previous Education Reform Commission. She also serves on several boards including the Opportunity in Education Coalition, the National School Choice Week Coalition, and the Center for Educational Justice. The Opportunity in Education Coalition lobbied alongside Campbell Brown for the Education Investment tax credit this past spring. The National School Choice week partners include Students First, The national Alliance for Public Charter Schools, The Fordham Institute, etc… In her testimony as head of the Power Parent Project before the State Senate Ed Committee hearing in October 2013, she stated that she believed parents opposed to the Regents Reform Agenda were in the minority. (Her son at the time was a sophomore in “one of the best” high schools and given his age was not ever affected by Common Core ). She also stated that “special interests-namely the New York State United Teachers and their surrogates——are expertly taking advantage of parents who feel excluded, amplifying our concerns and distorting the truth”. She also said that school district officials were deliberately misinforming parents about Common Core so that it seemed Common Core was “replacing NCLB as the new education boogey man”.

Sam Radford – Buffalo parent. Head of the District Parent Coordinating Council of Buffalo. In the past he has said that teachers should be evaluated on student growth or lack of it. “ A teacher should be evaluated on some scale for every student they teach”, he said in an interview. A February 2014 article featuring him in the Buffalo news said people either see him “as a champion for educational equality and accountability, or as a self promoting dissenter more focused on causing trouble than finding answers”. Mr. Radford is married to an “educator who runs a charter school.” His 14 children have attended public, Catholic and charter schools. He “pushes for the rights of parents to transfer their children out of struggling schools and into better ones, be they public, charter or private.”

Like Fox News might say: Fair and balanced.

Parents in the Hudson Valley of New York are outraged by Cuomo’s commission to review the Common Core standards and tests.

This is a region that encompasses both high wealth and high poverty. It had some of the highest opt out numbers in the state.

Here is a large sample:

After conceding that “evidence of failure is everywhere”, Governor Cuomo recently announced his fifteen member 2015 Common Core Commission. Billed as an opportunity to cure an “implementation” problem, the commission is notably lacking in any representation of elementary school parents, let alone critics of the Common Core. Parents across the Hudson Valley reject yet another pointless commission that ignores the concerns of parents and educators.

“A panel of advisors hand picked by Chancellor Tisch made recommendations about the Common Core Learning Standards to the Regents in February 2014 and the Governor himself was responsible for putting together a Common Core Implementation Panel who made recommendations in March 2014. Now, over a year and half later, the Governor admits that “failure is everywhere”. The Governor keeps asking for time to make common core work but my children have no more time to give. Their most formative years are being wasted and abused by this deeply flawed and developmentally inappropriate education reform which focuses on standardized testing and eliminates authentic teaching” said Joanne Tumolo, Mahopac public school parent and co-founder Putnam, Northern Westchester, Southern Dutchess Refuse the Tests.

Failure of the experimental Common Core Learning Standards comes as no surprise to the 220,000 families of public school children who chose to refuse NYS Common Core tests in the spring of 2015. While state education officials claim that the appointment of new test maker, Questar will address the public concerns, parents know that this is simply more of the same. Until New York State takes action to scrap the Common Core Learning Standards and halts the invalid use of discriminatory test scores to evaluate schools and teachers, opt out will grow.

Christine Zirkelbach co-Administrator of Hudson Valley Parent Educator Initiative said: “The Governor continues his charade of listening to the parents of New York State students by appointing a commission to review Common Core State Standards where the majority of the members are not professional, life time educators at all. Parents are not going to be appeased by another commission or rebranding of CCSS. Parents will continue to advocate for our public schools until local control is restored and the Governor and NYSED no longer mandate the corporatization of our children’s education.”

Bianca Tanis, Ulster County Public School parent and co-founder of New York State Allies for Public Education said “While the task force includes business leaders with no pedagogical knowledge, it does not include a single parent of an elementary school child. And of the 15 person panel, there are two teachers, only one of whom is an elementary school teacher. The panel is a sham and disgrace. Union leaders and politicians claiming to support the best interest of children should refuse to participate until the parents and teachers of the young children harmed by these experimental learning standards are represented.

“The Governor’s selected panel is very disappointing. There is not a single member who is an expert or a teacher of Math or English. The exclusion of parents of Special needs students and Special Educators is alarming. This task force is a farce and it’s another failed attempt by the Governor to mend a system that is failing miserably” said Suzanne DiAngelo Coyle, Rockland County public school parent and administrator of Stop Common Core Rockland County.

Who on this commission will actually do the work of reviewing the standards and the tests? This appears to be yet another “Cuomo commission” that has lots of sound and fury, amounting to nothing.

The Néw York State Allies for Public Education, representing more than 50 grassroots groups across the state, denounced Governor Cuomo’s commission to review and revise the Common Core standards and tests. Yet th Cuomo commission includes no parent who opted out, no early childhood educator, but many who served on Cuomo’s last, failed commission.

NYSAPE describes the commission as”donor-driven,” chaired by the same banker who chaired the last Cuomo commission on standards and tests.

Opt out leaders promise to refuse the tests next spring.

“The Cuomo Commission consists of many members from his first unproductive Commission and will again be led by the same businessman, Richard Parsons, despite the public’s outcry for an educator-led process. Parents know the Common Core standards and the Common Core exams are damaging their children’s education, not because they are “confused”, but because the standards themselves are invalid.

“Governor Cuomo cannot use a political task force to get politics out of education. Until our children’s education is once again under the direction of real education experts and classroom teachers, parents will not comply. Continuation of an unreliable teacher evaluation system tied to test scores, inappropriate and untested Common Core curriculum in our classrooms and inappropriate exams will not be tolerated. A task force devoid of critics is pointless.” –Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out.

“If the governor really wanted to fix this mess, he would have called back the legislature for a special session to undo the laws that got us here in the first place. It is time to get back our real learning in our kids’ classrooms and to local control by elected school boards. Without a fundamental improvement to the Common Core standards, the state exams and the way test scores are being unfairly used to stigmatize schools, teachers and students as failures, the number of parents opting out is guaranteed to sharply rise again this year.” –Lisa Rudley, Hudson Valley public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“Governor Cuomo is not trying to fix the problems with Common Core and testing. He is trying to make it salvage his reputation and his poll ratings, to make it ‘look like’ he is fixing these problems. These problems are not difficult to fix. Start by disconnecting tests from teacher evaluations to the extent allowable by Federal law, and then totally redo the standards and the exams by allowing New York teachers to rewrite them. But it appears that the Governor does not really want to do what is best for our children.”–Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“Cuomo claims Common Core is headed for a total reboot. Oddly enough, he has chosen 15 individuals as members who never had a problem with the standards to begin with. It is not often that you ask a bull to clean up the mess it has created in the china shop.” –Kevin Glynn, Long Island public school parent and educator.

“Governor Cuomo claims he is listening to parents, yet he has established another group that contains many of the same members as his previous commissions, which totally failed to provide answers to the education crisis created by the corporate reform movement. Polls show that the public is opposed to the Common Core, over-testing our children, and tying teacher evaluation to assessment results, yet the vast majority of Cuomo’s latest task force support the very policies rejected by New York families.” – Chris Cerrone, Western NY public school parent, school board member and educator.

​“For too long the majority of NYS Regents led by Chancellor Merryl Tisch have failed to provide the leadership necessary to protect children from harmful reforms. While the tide is changing with six Regents representing kids, the parents of Central NY see that Vice Chancellor Bottar has failed to protect kids and will call for his ouster.” –Jessica McNair, Central New York public school parent and educator.

“To show how off-base Cuomo is, in his speech he bragged about the teacher merit pay system he has imposed on the state. Teacher merit pay has never been shown to work to help kids learn, and this is one more sign of his willingness to waste millions of dollars of our taxpayer funds on untested or even damaging programs, in place of proven reforms like class size reduction.” –Lori Griffin, Northern New York public school parent and educator.

“Parents don’t just want politics out of their kids’ education. They want Andrew Cuomo and his political contributors to stay out of their classrooms. Parents across the state have vowed to continue refusing these harmful tests and practices to protect their children and their schools.”

Join NYSAPE. Help them resist political manipulation of our children and our schools.

Governor Cuomo announced his commission to revise the Common Core standards and it includes not a single parent leader of the opt out movement. The reason for the commission was to respond to the opt out movement, but no one on the commission speaks for the parents and guardians of the 220,000 students who did not take the test.

If you look at the members of the commission, you will see MaryEllen Elia, the state commissioner, plus the chair of the Senate Education Committee and the House Education Committee. The commission will be chaired by Richard Parsons, a respected banker. The commission includes some educators, but they all have day jobs.

Read the responsibilities of the commission. It is supposed to review the standards and the tests, among many other assignments. Here is the title of the press release:

Task Force to Perform Comprehensive Review of Learning Standards, Instructional Guidance and Curricula, and Tests to Improve Implementation and Reduce Testing Anxiety

Does anyone seriously believe that this commission has the expertise or the time to do what they are supposed to do?

Can anyone explain why there is no one on the commission to speak for the parents who opted their children out of the state testing?


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