Archives for category: Cuomo, Andrew

Leonie Haimson includes in this post a summary of the latest Quinnipiac poll about public reaction to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s education proposals. The long and short of it is that they are so unpopular that they have dragged down his overall rating.


28% approve his proposals while 63% reject them.


The Quinnipiac poll shows that Cuomo has dropped to his lowest rating ever–50%, and the poll connects his declining popularity to his ferocious attacks on public schools and teachers. He doesn’t seem to understand that most people like both and can’t understand why the Governor wants to destroy them. They have a low opinion of all his plans to “improve” them by raising the stakes on testing. This should be a warning to other politicians who think they can attack public education without arousing public antagonism. Most Americans–say, 90%–went to public school and presumably have good memories of their teachers and schools. Why would the governor or any other politician want to send public money to private and religious schools?

Alyssa Katz is a member of the editorial board of the Néw York Daily News, which has been a reliable cheerleader for the Common Core, high-stakes testing, and all of Governor Cuomo’s bad ideas to punish public schools, teachers, and children.


But Alyssa Katz has a singular advantage over most editorial writers: she is a parent of a child in public school. She has seen what Common Core looks like and how confusing the sample questions on the tests are.


She understands why Cuomo’s popularity rating has plummeted and why it is rock bottom among public school parents. He has only a 50% approval rating. 28% approve of his education ideas, as do only 21% of public school parents.


Since Cuomo has asserted his education leadership in a state where he has no legal authority over education (he does not appoint the state board or the state commissioner), parents will blame him for incoherent Common Core assignments and for the failure of their child on Common Core tests. If favorite teachers are fired for low scores, it will be Cuomo’s fault.


Katz has had it.


She writes:


“With kids prepping for April tests, anxieties are again mounting. At least, that’s the view from my dining-room table, where my third-grader grapples with hair-tearing homework , and where her guiding inspiration for writing assignments is a laminated card drilling “RADD” — for Restate, Answer, Detail, Detail.


“If the questions on kids’ homework and, by extension, their standardized tests, are tough to understand, how does it make sense to base high-stakes teacher employment decisions on those tests?


“Take this math assignment: “Draw an array. Then write a fact family to describe your array.” The sound you hear is sweat trickling down my husband’s face.


“The question that follows asks whether it’s correct to surmise that a family whose members have 14 legs consists of 7 people. One kid answered — it became an internet meme — “Yes, because 14÷2 = 7, but not everyone has two legs. Go to”


“My breaking point came with a math problem asking kids to combine Grover Cleveland’s electoral votes won in 1884, 1888 and 1892, a sum that would mean nothing to even the most obsessive presidential historian.”

This letter was sent to the blog as part of a comment:



Dear Governor Cuomo,


I have a problem and I hope you can help. Last week, my child decided to stay up all night and binge watch Gossip Girls on Netflix instead of studying. As a result, she failed a test she had the next day. I’m struggling with exactly how to word the letter of complaint to her teacher, because clearly, this is his fault. Were he an “effective” educator, she would have made a different choice. Where did he go wrong? How can I make him understand that he needs to do a little better if he wants to keep his job?


The above might be funny if it weren’t so close to the absolutely appalling plan you have proposed for evaluating teachers. You can’t be serious. I have to believe you know it’s a terrible plan as well, or you wouldn’t feel like you had to hold school districts’ funding hostage in order to get it passed.


I am a parent, a school board member, a taxpayer, and a registered Democrat. (I’m ashamed to say I even voted for you, twice.) I’m also a product of NYC Public Schools, and even without standardized testing, the Common Core and APPR, I managed to be the first person in my family to attend college.


You’re missing an important part about kids in your plan: they are not widgets. You can’t standardize them. I have three children, and they’re all different. They all make different choices. I don’t care how they perform on your tests. I care that they remain intellectually curious, that they are confident problem solvers and that they spend their days with teachers who have the freedom to academically challenge them while honoring their differences. Is it possible that you and Regent Tisch really don’t see how you’re ruining that for them and for all the children of New York State? Our teachers need more freedom, not less. Our districts need more flexibility, and more funding – not less.


Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a Q&A session with our local legislators and was asked what alternative I would propose to the APPR if I disliked it so much. Here’s my answer: LEAVE US ALONE. Our district, like many others across the state, is the best judge of our teachers, our students, and the education we provide. If you feel like you want to help, let me suggest you appropriately fund our districts and put an end to the Gap Elimination Adjustment. You might want to take a look at the real issue impacting education in this state: educational inequality. My son has 18 children in his 5th grade class. In a similar classroom less than 3 miles away, there are 32. Do something about that. Maybe then I could feel proud to have voted for you.


Today, I’m rating you ineffective.




Elizabeth Soggs
New Hartford School Board Member, Parent, Voter and Taxpayer
New Hartford Central School District

Teacher and blogger Ralph Ratto says that New Yorkers must rally to support public education:



“All across the Empire State thousands upon thousands of parents, students, business leaders, and teachers are standing up and speaking out for public education. The message is clear. We will not let Governor Cuomo destroy public education in New York.9/11 Memorial Run/Wall in Manhattan


“Andrew Cuomo, our ‘self-proclaimed student advocate’, is holding school funding hostage in his maniacal quest to sell off public education to the highest bidder. An integral part of his plan is to falsely proclaim our schools and teachers as failures.


“We have all witnessed Cuomo do the following;


“shift needed funding towards the private sector.


hand over public schools buildings room by room to privately own charter schools.


wrenched local control away from communities.


demanded unfunded mandates that are driving public school districts into fiscal distress.


destroyed teacher preparation programs.


whittled away at teacher education centers.


demanded standards that are not age appropriate for students.


forced children to undergo hours and hours of abusive high stakes tests.


labeled public sector unions as an evil force.


Let’s not forget, Cuomo was not endorsed by the New York state AFL-CIO and NYSUT. There is a reason this Democrat was shunned by labor. His agenda is anti-labor and is driven by his hedge fund millionaire campaign donors. That’s why he lost just about every county and every region in the state except for where his hedge fund millionaires poured in tons of cash.


His agenda is quite clear, he has a vendetta against those who turned their backs on him and squashed his presidential aspirations. He is willing to sacrifice the futures of the children, of the Empire State, all the while handing parts of a multi-billion dollar public asset to privateers.


As evident in his decisions to end any oversight on ethics he has ordered all of his administrations e-mail and correspondence to be purged on a regular basis. Cuomo is counting on a world of darkness and despair as he slams the door on open government. We are on to him, and he won’t get away with this.


Cuomo wants us to believe the sun in New York State Seal is setting on the era of public education and open government. It is time to stand up and speak out and tell the governor that the citizens of the Empire State will not allow that sun to set on our most important assets, our children and our public schools.Seal_of_New_York.svg


Stand Up, Speak out for public education. Let the sun shine as we share the successes of public education in New York. Nassau County’s forum- “Stand Up and Speak Out for Public Education” is on March 12 at Westbury High School.



More information can be found at #allkids need you to be there.

This is a great discussion, in which Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” interviews Juan Gonzalez of the NY Daily News about the big money pushing charter schools. The discussion is based on this article.

“New York Hedge Funds Pour Millions of Dollars into Cuomo-Led Bid to Expand Charter Schools | Democracy Now!

In his latest column for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González reports on the tens of millions of dollars in hedge fund donations behind the push for charter schools in New York state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the single biggest recipient, hauling in $4.8 million. After winning approval for up to $2,600 more per pupil for charter school facilities, Cuomo is calling on the state Legislature to increase the state limit on charter schools.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, before we move on with our first segment, you have a very interesting piece in the New York Daily News today, “Hedge fund executives give ’til it hurts to politicians, especially Cuomo, to get more charter schools.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yes. Well, I wrote about an interesting symposium that was held at the Harvard Club yesterday, an all-day symposium titled “Bonds & Blackboards: Investing in Charter Schools.” And it was a meeting, basically, of hedge fund types sponsored by the Gates Foundation and by the Walton Foundation, basically—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Of the Wal-Mart family—basically enticing more investors to begin to see how they can make money off of charter schools. An all-day symposium with a small protest of parents outside. But it really has marked the enormous change that’s occurred in New York politics and, I think, around the country, as a new report showed that hedge fund executives over the last decade have poured nearly $40 million into political contributions just in New York state. The prime beneficiary over the last few years has been Governor Cuomo, who has received almost $5 million. We’re talking about Carl Icahn, you know, the famous “corporate raider”; we’re talking about Paul Singer of the vulture fund, hedge fund guy; we’re talking about Julian Robertson of Tiger Management—some of the richest people in New York City. And they’re also, most of them, also major backers of charter schools.

AMY GOODMAN: How do they make money from charter schools?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, that’s—I think a lot of it now is going to be coming in with the facilities financing that’s going to occur. aGovernor Cuomo pressed the Legislature, for instance, in New York state to begin providing what will be the equivalent of about $2,600 per child to build new facilities for charter schools, forcing Mayor de Blasio in New York City to share some of this cost. So there’s going to be a new revenue stream: In addition to direct funding from the state for pupil education, there’s now going to be a charter facilities fund that’s been set up. And, of course, the governor wants to lift the cap on charter schools to allow many more charter schools to be started in New York. And the amount of money is not just in the direct contributions; it’s also in money being given to new groups, the dark money that we’ve seen after the Citizens United case, where folks like Robertson and Dan Loeb have contributed as much as a million dollars apiece last year to a new group funding ads promoting Republicans for Senate seats in New York state, which would assure, again, support for charter schools. So it’s an enormous amount of money that’s being poured into these political campaigns specifically by hedge fund folks who are very close to charter schools. In fact, one charter network alone, the Success Academy, which I’ve reported on repeatedly, 19 members of the board of directors, or their family members, gave $600,000 to Governor Cuomo’s campaigns in the last—for his last two election campaigns. It’s an enormous amount of money, and it’s not getting much attention.”

It is hard to laugh about Governor Cuomo’s nonsensical proposal to demoralize teachers and destabilize public schools. He wants to change teacher evaluation so that 50% of their rating is based on their students’ test scores (he doesn’t realize that most teachers don’t teach reading and math in elementary schools); he wants 35% of their evaluation to be based on the drive-by evaluation of an independent person who doesn’t work in the school; and he wants the judgment of the principal, who sees the teachers regularly, to count for only 15%. He wants more charter schools and vouchers (he calls them “tax credits”) even though neither produces better results than public schools. It makes no sense but he won’t release funds due to public schools unless the Legislature passes his harmful proposals.


Cynthia Wachtell, a scholar at Yeshiva University, is a public school parent. She has written a hilarious analysis of Governor Cuomo’s plan. Among his other ill-informed ideas is a proposal to close down the schools whose test scores place them in the bottom 5% so their students don’t have to go to failing schools anymore. She gently offers a math lesson. Sorry, Governor, there will always be a 5%.


Therein lies the math problem. If a “school is designated as ‘falling’ if it’s in the bottom 5% of schools across the state,” then, by definition, Cuomo’s goal of “no longer … condemning our children to failing schools” is impossible. The children in the bottom 5% of NYS schools will always be in ‘failing’ schools. Math will be math. And that’s just how percentages work.


She tells Governor Cuomo what his state’s public schools and students really need:


Clearly we need to improve the education received by all of “our” children. And unlike the Governor, I actually have two children in NYS public schools. The way to help my sons and other NYS students is to reduce class size; shift away from high stakes testing; offer a well-rounded curriculum rich in the sciences, technology, physical education, and the arts; and evaluate teachers in a way that takes into consideration the unique challenges of each of their classrooms. I once sat as a parent visitor in a classroom of thirty-plus sixth graders working through an ELA test prep workbook. And, sorry Andrew, it did not make me happy.

Now will the charter lobby stop boasting that they have the answers to low test scores?

Two charter middle schools run by the Brighter Choice Foundation were closed by the state’s Charter Schools Institute. At one time, reformers claimed that Brighter Choice was “the Holy Grail” of charter schooling. No more.

The two schools–one for boys, one for girls–pleaded for more time, sounding like public schools. They didn’t get it. They will close.

But long-time columnist Fred LeBrun writes:

“I have a sneaking suspicion that money and financing at stake over bricks and mortar are as much of a motivator for keeping those charters alive as is serving the community. Regardless, about 440 students after this academic year may well have to find an alternative school.

“Students, and parents, who had put their hopes in charters, Brighter Choice in particular, now find themselves associated with failed schools as defined by the Charter School Institute.

“It was five years ago that Brighter Choice got into the middle-school business, with fanfare and swagger.
The same year Albany’s first charter school, New Covenant, one of the first in the state, finally gasped its last after 11 years of teetering. The failure of New Covenant was devastating to the city’s minority community, which had invested heart and soul in it.
The leaders of Brighter Choice at the time coldly wrote off New Covenant as exactly the way not to start and run a charter school.

“But now that Brighter Choice has seen its own limitations at the middle- and high-school levels, we are not hearing quite the same bravado anymore.
I’ll get an argument, I know, but I believe that in the long run Albany is not better off for being a heralded laboratory for charters.

“In fact, a word Albany school district spokesman Ron Lesko used a while back about the effect of charters on the school district comes to mind. They’ve been ”destabilizing.” The school district has been left to constantly adjust to the ebb and flow of a transient student population and its resources have been diverted in the name of ”choice.”

“Can we really afford that choice? What has it done for the kids?

“Albany taxpayers have taken a hosing from charters, a redundant school system that adds extra cost to public education a strapped city can’t afford. State aid by percentage has been dropping away and more and more it is the local property taxpayer who supports this vital service to the community. The Albany school district sends more than $35 million a year to charters, and as state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said, exactly where that money goes is not easy to figure out.

“The state is again at one of those crossroads over public education, with the governor’s unfortunate infatuation with this same charter movement.
For whatever reason, he continues to unfairly beat up traditional public education and those who serve it, and underfunds it to a deplorable degree. If he believes he’s preparing the way for charters as some sort of a rescue option, forget it. We’ve already seen that plan in action.

“Upstate, at least, there is zero reason for giving charters anything more than what they already have. Zero.”

Carol Burris has been an outspoken critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s baseless attacks on New York state’s educators. He is outraged that the current evaluation system rated 99% of the state’s teachers effective or highly effective. What he forgets, Burris reminds us, is that this is not an antiquated system: the current method of evaluation was created by….Governor Andrew Cuomo!


“Cuomo remains obsessed with teacher measurement and firing. Unhappy with the outcome of evaluations, he called them “baloney.” He forgets that when the Boars Head delivery arrived in Albany, he was driving the truck. The evaluation system he now mocks is the very one he insisted be put in place.


“In 2012, Cuomo called the new evaluation system, APPR, “one of the toughest in the country.” He referred to it as “groundbreaking” and “exactly what is needed” to transform schools. New York Students First, gave Cuomo credit for the teacher evaluation system—it was “because of the governor’s leadership” that this “groundbreaking agreement” came to be.”


Since the loudest complaints about Cuomo’s latest bad idea are coming from educators on Long Island, Cuomo has turned his hatchet towards them. But Long Island is home to some of the state’s most successful public schools:


“Part of the Cuomo strategy of reform is the shaming of districts and counties where teacher evaluations indicate a high-quality teaching force. The governor’s latest target is my region, Long Island. Cuomo’s aide, Jim Malatras, has called for an investigation of Long Island teacher scores, which he implies were deliberately skewed for success. There is no acknowledgement that the flaws in the system his boss rammed through left Long Island with an unworkable system. Malatras also ignores how comparatively successful Long Island schools are. Good teacher evaluations make sense.


“Long Island’s 2014 four-year graduation rate is 89 percent. The New York State rate is 77 percent.

“If Long Island numbers were not included, New York’s rate would drop to 73 percent, placing New York fifth from the bottom in national ratings.

“Not only are Long Island schools doing an overall good job in getting all students to the finish line—they do a better job than the state as a whole achieving equitable outcomes. Long Island is composed of two counties, Nassau and Suffolk. Unfortunately, the state Report Card website does not provide enough data to combine the counties on these measures, so I report them separately below. Here are three examples:

“Four-year graduation rate for students who are economically disadvantaged:

Nassau County: 80 percent

Suffolk County: 77 percent

New York State: 67 percent

“Four-year graduation rates for black students:

Nassau County: 81 percent

Suffolk County: 75 percent

New York State: 62 percent

“Four-year graduation rates for students with disabilities:

Nassau County: 70 percent

Suffolk County 67 percent

New York State: 50 percent

“The black/white graduation rate gap for the state is 25 points. For Nassau County, the gap is 14 points. Keep in mind that the New York State percentages include Long Island. Every one of the above state rates would drop without Long Island schools.”


Cuomo’s vendetta against the teachers’ union is payback for refusing to endorse him. His vendetta against Long Island teachers and public schools lacks a shred of rationality. He is like an angry little boy, stamping his feet and throwing his weight around, knowing that he can’t be reined in by “the little people.”

A new poll by Siena College finds that public supports teachers, not Cuomo.

“Consider what voters said when asked about what hinders education in New York: Little parental involvement (37 percent), not enough money in schools (18 percent), the effects of poverty (17 percent), ineffective state oversight (12 percent), poor quality teachers (10 percent).”

The public backs teachers by 48-36.

Governor Andrew Cuomo released a report which identified 178 “failing schools,” with more than half in Néw York City. His report was an implicit–if unintended–critique of mayoral control, since the schools in Néw York City have been under mayoral control since 2002.

Cuomo wants the state to take control of the schools he named and turn them over to private management organizations.

“The report aims to bolster Cuomo’s argument that the state should be allowed to seize control of the schools and hand them over to outside organizations. Cuomo’s takeover plan would allow “receivers” to restructure the low-ranked schools, overhaul their curriculums, and override labor agreements in order to fire “underperforming” teachers and administrators.

For another perspective, read Bruce Baker as he rips apart “Angry Andy’s” list of “failing schools,” most of which have been shortchanged by the state.

Baker writes:

“NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office has released a report in which it identifies what it refers to in bold type on the cover as “Failing Schools.”
Report here:

“Presumably, these are the very schools on which Angy Andy would like to impose death penalties – or so he has opined in the past.

“The report identifies 17 districts in particular that are home to failing schools. The point of the report is to assert that the incompetent bureaucrats, high paid administrators and lazy teachers in these schools simply aren’t getting the job done and must be punished/relieved of their duties. Angry Andy has repeatedly vociferously asserted that he and his less rabid predecessors have poured obscene sums of funding into these districts for decades. Thus – it’s their fault – certainly not his, for why they stink!”

“I have addressed over and over again on this blog the plight of high need, specifically small city school districts under Governor Cuomo.

“On how New York State crafted a low-ball estimate of what districts needed to achieve adequate outcomes and then still completely failed to fund it.
On how New York State maintains one of the least equitable state school finance systems in the nation.

“On how New York State’s systemic, persistent underfunding of high need districts has led to significant increases of numbers of children attending school with excessively large class sizes.

“On how New York State officials crafted a completely bogus, racially and economically disparate school classification scheme in order to justify intervening in the very schools they have most deprived over time.

“I have also written reports on New York State’s underfunding of the school finance formula – a formula adopted to comply with prior court order in CFE v. State.

“Statewide Policy Brief with NYC Supplement: BBaker.NYPolicyBrief_NYC
50 Biggest Funding Gaps Supplement: 50 Biggest Aid Gaps 2013-14_15_FINAL

“Among my reports is one in which I identified the 50 districts with the biggest state aid shortfalls with respect to what the state itself says these districts require for providing a sound basic (constitutional standard) education. Districts across NY state have funding gaps for a variety of reasons, but I have shown in the past that it is generally districts with greater needs – high poverty concentrations & more children with limited English language proficiency, as well as more minority children – which tend to have larger funding gaps.

“I have also pointed out very recently on this blog that some high need upstate cities in NY have had persistently inequitable/inadequate funding for decades……

“Personally, even I was shocked to see the relationship between my 50 most underfunded districts list and Angry Andy’s 17 districts that suck.
NY State has over 650 school districts, many of which may be showing relatively low test scores for a variety of reasons, including & especially due to serving high concentrations of needy students.”


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