Archives for category: Cuomo, Andrew

In New York State, a small group of Democrats in the State Senate flipped their allegiance to the Republicans, giving Republicans control of the Senate. Republican control of the Senate worked to the benefit of the 1%.

One of that group was State Senator Jeffrey Klein. He just won the endorsement of the New York State United Teachers.

This is bizarre. According to this blogger, Perdido Street School, Klein is pro-voucher and pro-charter. He supports evaluating educators by test scores.

Can anyone associated with NYSUT explain this endorsement?

As the New York Daily News put it, today was not a good day for Governor Cuomo.

First the New York State United Teachers decided not to endorse him or anyone else.

Then the Public Employees Federation endorsed Zephyr Teachout.

He still has $35 million in campaign funds, but a steamroller he is not.

He hoped to be re-elected with such impressive numbers that he would be seen as Presidential timbre. He forgot that New York Democrats are not traditionally a pro-business, pro-Wall Street, anti-labor, anti-public school party. He lined up the money brokers and forgot his party’s base. Bad idea.

The New York State United Teachers decided not to endorse Andrew Cuomo for re-election, nor anyone else.

NYSUT has 600,000 members and a strong get-out-the-vote operation. It did endorse the Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“Those who earn endorsements are friends of public education and labor,” NYSUT president Karen Magee said in a statement. “Over the last two years, they earned our support by advocating effectively for our public schools, colleges and health care institutions; listening intently to the concerns and aspirations of our members, and voting consistently the right way.”

Cuomo is a staunch advocate of privately-managed charter schools and has received large campaign contributions from the hedge fund industry, which supports charter schools. 3% of the state’s children are enrolled in charter schools. Cuomo is also a firm advocate for evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students, although he gives no sign of knowing that it has been tried and failed in many other places.

Zephyr Teachout, who is opposing Governor Cuomo in the New York Democratic primary, explained her strong opposition to the Common Core standards, which Cuomo supports.

She writes:

“Common Core forces teachers to adhere to a narrow set of standards, rather than address the personal needs of students or foster their creativity. That’s because states that have adopted the standards issue mandatory tests whose results are improperly used to grade a teacher’s skill and even to determine if he or she keeps their job. These tests have created enormous and undue stress on students, and eroded real teaching and real learning. What’s more, there’s sound reason to question whether these standards even measure the right things or raise student achievement. No doubt, many teachers have found parts of the standards useful in their teaching, but there is a big difference between optional standards offered as support, and standards foisted on teachers regardless of students’ needs.

“Widespread outrage from teachers and parents has led Gov. Cuomo to tweak the rules around the implementation of the Common Core and call for a review of the rollout. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not addressed the real problem with Common Core.

“The fundamental issue is not the technicalities of how the standards are implemented. It is not even that Gov. Cuomo allowed this regime even as he was stripping schools of basic funding, leading class sizes to swell and forcing schools to slash programs in art and extra help. The root problem with Common Core is that it is undemocratic. It is a scheme conceived and heavily promoted by a handful of distant and powerful actors. Here in New York, it was adopted with insufficient input from local teachers, parents, school boards or students, the very people whose lives it so profoundly affects.

“Bill Gates’ coup is part of a larger coup we’re living through today – where a few moneyed interests increasingly use their wealth to steer public policy, believing that technocratic expertise and resources alone should answer vexing political questions. Sometimes their views have merit, but the way these private interests impose their visions on the public – by overriding democratic decision-making – is a deep threat to our democracy. What’s more, this private subversion of public process has come at the precise time when our common institutions, starved of funds, are most vulnerable. But by allowing private money to supplant democracy, we surrender the fate of our public institutions to the personal whims of a precious few.”

Teachout concludes:

“As did the founding generation in America, I believe public education is the infrastructure of democracy. The best public education is made democratically, in the local community: when parents, teachers, and administrators work together to build and refine the education models and standards right for our children.”

A blogger has been looking for Governor Cuomo’s running mate. It seems she is a strong supporter of gun rights but not a friend to immigrants. The trick for Cuomo is to let her talk in conservative districts upstate but keep her under wraps in New York City and the liberal suburbs.

Perdido Street School writes:

“Where in the world is former US Rep. Kathy Hochul?

“The one-time Buffalo-area congresswoman known for her strong support of gun ownership rights and her fervid opposition to giving state privileges to illegal aliens has all but disappeared from public view since Gov. Cuomo picked her in May as his running mate for lieutenant governor.

“Key state Democrats told The Post that Cuomo has ordered Hochul “kept under wraps,’’ in the words of one, to prevent her more conservative views from upending his re-election campaign among liberal New York City Democrats, especially Hispanics.

“No extended interviews, no press conferences, no TV or radio appearances, no nothing. It’s like she’s under lock and key,’’ said a senior elected Democrat.

“Hochul, who received a top rating from the National Rifle Association when she ran for Congress and strongly opposed former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s efforts to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens when she was Erie County clerk, was chosen by Cuomo as part of his aggressive effort to win over Western New York voters.”

John Ogozokak, a high school teacher in upstate New York, ponders here which is the more meaningful task: to clean a septic tank or to grade a standardized test:

About a half dozen years ago the septic tank lurking beside our old farmhouse went kerflooey. I dug out the top of the rusty thing and it was clear something VERY wrong had happened. I’ll spare you the graphic details but suffice to say I had to rig up a temporary pipe until the experts could arrive days later. It was a smelly, nasty job. But as I was standing there, ankle deep in crap under a beautiful spring sky, I found myself wondering……would I rather be doing THIS or dealing with some of the nonsense I encounter every day in school -like inflicting mindless standardized tests on students.

I vote for the septic tank. And, not just mine. No, I’d pull over and help a random stranger who was dealing with a similar plumbing disaster if it would save me from grading yet another useless test. At least I’d be accomplishing something real.

I face a similar situation this morning. I woke up about a half hour ago thinking about the ridiculous test I was forced to give my 12th grade Economics students on THEIR LAST DAY EVER in school: an economics “post-assessment” created solely with the purpose of trying to calibrate if I am a good teacher. I have to go look at the results this morning. (I refuse to count it for anything against these kids.)

The test is crap incarnate. (Cue Paul Simon’s first line in “Kodachrome”….. that song just keeps ringing in my head)

To make a long, boring story short: my high school again outsourced the production of this “assessment” to our county’s Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES.) I could have gone and helped in the construction of this nonsense. I refused since I do not want to be co-opted by this whole process…… “yes, look, teachers participated……blah, blah, blah.”

Once again, the test is crap. Outdated trivia, textbook jargon, the same old supply and demand graph about socks. I was so pissed off that after I saw the thing I stopped to visit a friend of mine who owns a business. His family works out of an old storefront and you might have seen some of their handmade products in high-end catalogues. He’s not only a super smart guy but a person I respect for his integrity and common sense. He also knows a lot more economics than me so I ran a couple of the test questions past him.

Like, for example, how many federal reserve districts are there in the United States?

Huh? We both stood there and tried to guess. Eight? Twelve? Fourteen now? WHO CARES!

I mean, is this really one of the 50 essential facts that a young adult who is entering a our deeply dysfunctional economy needs to know? The test had not one question about the scandalous burden of student loans today; nothing about the near depression these kids lived through as they innocently went through school; not a mention of the growing chasm between the wealthy and the workers that support them in this nation. (Sorry, kids, soon to be YOU doing that backbreaking work!)

I’m disgusted.

And, so Governor Cuomo decides to give some public school teachers a temporary reprieve from having their career tied to these ridiculous tests. WHO CARES?

It’s time we stop giving kids tests when we all know that some of these assessments are crap.

Zephyr Teachout is running for governor in the Democratic primary against Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has collected more than $30 million for his campaign, much of it from Wall Street titans. At the convention of the Working Families Party last month, Cuomo won over the union leaders, who delivered the WFP endorsement to him over Teachout. She must gather 15,000 signatures on petitions by July 7 from across the state to place her on the ballot for the Democratic primary ballot on September 9.

Among other things, she wants to change the way political campaigns are funded. She says:

“Right now, the campaign funding system leads to politicians basically being beggars at the feet of oligarchs. It’s what the progressives of another era called the invisible government: the private power that sits behind public power. Politicians are not making decisions based on what they think their constituents want or even what they think is best for their constituents. They’re making decisions based on who is giving them $60,000; that’s more money than any middle-class person can afford.”

In this interview, Teachout explains why she is running and why she thinks she has a possibility of upsetting Cuomo. Her basic issues are public corruption, about which she is an expert; the environment (she opposes fracking and favors alternative sources of energy); economic development; jobs; a higher minimum wage; and education. Everyone who runs for office in New York promises to “clean up” the ethical swamp in Albany. Teachout means it.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2014
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education http://www.nysape.org

Parents Outraged by APPR Albany Deal that Ignores the Children

The deal reached today by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature regarding minimizing the impact of Common Core test scores on teacher evaluations is a slap in the face to parents across the state who have implored them to reduce the amount of testing that children are subjected to and to improve the quality of these exams and the learning standards.

“The deal does nothing to protect students or to address poorly constructed tests, abusive testing practices or concerns about the Common Core,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt-Out.

“While protecting teachers, this does nothing to protect our children who will continue to be subjected to the stress and damage from inappropriate curriculum, standards and exams,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

In light of this misstep, it is not surprising that Governor Cuomo and Commissioner of Education John King have lost the confidence of New Yorkers. The recent Siena poll shows that only 9% of respondents say they “completely trust” Governor Cuomo to act in the best interests of our students, and only 4% completely trust Commissioner King.

“Governor Cuomo and Commissioner King have made it clear they will not heed the concerns of millions of outraged parents across the state. Their arrogance is dangerous and will only continue to hurt our children, our teachers and our schools,” said Nancy Cauthen, NYC public school parent and member of Change the Stakes.

Many New Yorkers have expressed dismay that Governor Cuomo continues to ignore the growing number of unfunded mandates, insolvent schools, and increasing poverty that public schools face, while promoting excessive and developmentally inappropriate testing practices and flawed learning standards. He has also put the interests of his wealthy contributors who support charter schools that rob public schools of resources. “Neither testing nor the Common Core will help close the achievement gap or erase the inequitable funding and inadequate conditions that plague our public schools,” said Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent and General Manager of BAT.

“Let’s not forget that according to King and Cuomo, eight year old children will continue to sit for almost seven hours of testing over the course of six days, tests that no one can see or critique. Parents will not be fooled by token changes that do nothing to protect students from these abusive practices. Unless a moratorium directly reduces or suspends testing for students, our children will continue to suffer,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent.

Katie Zahedi, Dutchess County principal at Linden Avenue Middle School said, “As long as the NYSED and Cuomo’s education office are run by non-experts, beholden to forces bent on dismantling public education, our students will continue to be subjected to bad policies.”

“It’s time for a Governor that supports the priorities of parents, evidence-based teaching practices, and REAL learning for the students of New York,” said Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and co-founder of NYSAPE.

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) is a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator groups throughout the state.

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Governor Cuomo reached a compromise with teachers’ unions and legislators to protect teachers who received the lowest ratings on the Common Core tests. Such teachers will not be evaluated by the tests. Only 1% of the state’s teachers were rated ineffective. What this deal really means is that a meaningless and deeply flawed teacher evaluation system, cobbled together to get Race to the Top funding, is now rendered utterly meaningless.

Unfortunately for students, there is no relief from the many hours required for Common Core testing. Kids will continue to sit for three hours for each exam, plus dozens of hours of interim testing. Perhaps this is early preparation for the SAT or bar exams, starting in third grade.

Last week, I posted Dave Cunningham’s excellent response to an editorial writer at Newsday who voted against an increase in the budget of the West Babylon public schools in Long Island, where his own daughters got a great education and went on to outstanding colleges. The budget went down to defeat, and a new vote was scheduled for June 17. Because of Governor Cuomo’s tax cap of 2%, school districts need a supermajority of 60% to increase their budget to meet rising costs. One district in New York was supported by 59.9% of voters (which would be considered a landslide in an election for public office), yet the whole school district lost the vote because of the lack of a single vote to reach 60.0%.

In his letter, Dave Cunningham pointed out that the West Babylon schools had lost $4 million a year for four years due to Cuomo’s “gap elimination” program. The schools were hard-pressed to provide the same quality of education that the editorial writer’s daughters had received before in the era before budget cutting became the new normal.

The district budget came up for re-vote yesterday, and it passed easily, with a yes vote of 72.5%. Any elected official would call that a landslide. The budget that passed involved deep budget cuts: “West Babylon’s budget will raise spending 0.63 percent and taxes 1.36 percent. In trimming that budget, the district cut the equivalent of 9.9 teachers, 18 hall monitors and a number of off-site sports.”

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