Archives for category: New York City

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.”

Want proof that charter schools are not public schools? Public school principals would be fired if they closed their schools for the day and put the children on buses to the state Capitol to lobby for more funding. Imagine if NYC principals brought 1 million students to Albany to demand money for smaller classes, libraries, and the arts. It will never happen because it is illegal.

But next week, Eva Moskowitz will close her NYC charter schools and bring 9,000 children (mostly elementary ages) to lobby for more charters.

She may bring their parents as well. Certainly not to lobby for the children. They already attend a charter school. They can’t attend more than one.

The charters have chosen to lobby in the same day as the UFT. The UFT won’t produce their students; it would be illegal.

it is offensive to see children so callously used to promote “adult interests.”

Private schools can close their doors to lobby. Public schools can’t. The best private schools, however, would not use their students as political props. Their parents would never allow it.

Bloomberg News reports that Néw York City’s public employees’ pension fund is considering an investment in a hedge fund managed by one of Eva Moskowitz’s key backers.

“The board of the $54 billion pension for civil employees, including lunchroom workers and other school aides, plans a vote Tuesday on whether to invest in Joel Greenblatt’s Gotham Asset Management LLC, according to a copy of the executive agenda. Greenblatt is co-founder of Success Academy, New York’s biggest charter-school network. Its director, Eva Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman, helped block Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bid to cut aid to charter schools.”

Gary Rubinstein deconstructed the claim made by the NYC charter industry that 143,000 students are “trapped in failing schools.”

As Rubinstein shows, a billionaire-backed group called “Families for Excellent Schools” decided arbitrarily that any school where less than 10% passed the new Common Core test was a “failing school.” He points out that only 30% “passed” the Common Core tests (including charter schools, which had the same pass rate as public schools). If Families for Excellent Schools had used a 20% pass rate instead of 10%, he notes, then FES could have bemoaned the “Forgotten Three-Quarters.”

Rubinstein discovered that 90% of the parents in the 371 schools arbitrarily labeled “failing” would recommend their school to other parents. Obviously, the parents don’t believe their children are “trapped.”

The claim about “children trapped in failung schools” comes from a “report” by the Walton Family-funded “Families for Excellent Schools.” This is the same group that hastily raised and spent $5-6 million last year to stop Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to charge rent to charter schools using public space. With money spent so freely on the airwaves and in Albany, Governor Cuomo adopted charter schools as his cause (only 3% of the state’s students attend charter schools). With his support, the Legislature passed a bill requiring NYC to provide free space in public schools to charters and to pay their rent if they located in private space.

Chalkbeat uses state data to report on high suspension rates at many charters, where strict discipline is prized.

“New York City charter schools suspended students at almost three times the rate of traditional public schools during the 2011-12 school year, according to a Chalkbeat analysis, though some charter schools have since begun to reduce the use of suspensions for minor infractions.
Overall, charter schools suspended at least 11 percent of their students that year, while district schools suspended 4.2 percent of their students. The charter-school suspension rate is likely an underestimate because charter schools don’t have to report suspensions that students serve in school.

“Not all schools had high suspension rates. One-third of charter schools reported suspending fewer than 5 percent of their students, and many schools said they did not give out any out-of-school suspensions. But 11 charter schools suspended more than 30 percent of their students — a figure likely to draw added scrutiny amid a nationwide push to reduce suspensions and a debate over allowing more charter schools to open statewide.”

Bruce Baker of Rutgers University here analyzes the claims of a charter advocacy group called “Families for Excellent Schools.” Its latest “study” argues that New York City wastes money on low-performing schools as compared to high-performing schools. Baker points out that the “low-performing schools” have higher proportions of children with disabilities and others with high needs, as compared to the high-performing schools to which they are compared. Baker says the FES “study” is “totally bogus.” He has a few other choice phrases to describe this politically motivated analysis.


It is useful to bear in mind who the “families” for excellent schools are. Last year, this group spent $5 million or more to attack Mayor Bill de Blasio while demanding legislation to protect charter schools and to open more. This suggests that these are not your ordinary charter-school families. It is not that easy to raise $5 million in a few days or weeks. The “families” are the Walton family, the Eli Broad family, and the families of other extremely wealthy people. One may safely assume that none of these families has their own children in public schools or in charter schools.

Advocates for Children, a nonpartisan civic group in Néw York City, conducted a study of discipline policies in Néw York City’s charter schools. Every school had its own rules, and many of those rules violate state and/or federal law. If charter schools are public schools, they should abide by the law; if they are private schools, they can continue to diverge from state and federal law. As matters stand, when children enroll in charters, they check their rights at the door.


Here is a summary of the study that appeared in the NY Times.


Here is the executive summary:


Ms. Lopez rejoiced when her daughter, Mia, was accepted to a local charter school for kindergarten. Ms. Lopez believed that this school would provide her daughter with the best chance of getting a high-quality education. However, within the first month of school, the charter school suspended five-year-old Mia for disruptive behavior, claiming that she had hit another student. Ms. Lopez was very concerned about Mia’s alleged behavior and therefore requested that Mia be evaluated to determine if she had a disability and needed special education services. While evaluations were pending, the charter school suspended Mia another two times for impulsive behavior. Ms. Lopez tried to find out from Mia what had happened, but given Mia’s age and a delay in her communication skills, Ms. Lopez was unable to get an explanation that she could understand.


Ms. Lopez was devastated when the charter school principal then told her that, based on the charter school’s policy, because Mia had received three suspensions, the charter school was expelling her after just two months of kindergarten. The principal stated that the school would give Ms. Lopez a two-week “grace period” to return Mia to her preschool (for which she was no longer eligible) or enroll her at her zoned elementary school. During those two weeks, Mia could attend school if her mother stayed with her the whole time.


Ms. Lopez had chosen the charter school because it had touted the extra support it provided to students to help them succeed. But at the time when Mia needed support, the charter school told Ms. Lopez to take Mia someplace else. Ms. Lopez could not believe that the charter school was giving up on Mia so quickly.


Mia’s charter school expelled her without providing written notice of the charges against Mia and the school’s proposal to expel her, without scheduling a hearing to consider Mia’s actions and determine an appropriate penalty, and without following any procedures required to protect the rights of students with disabilities even though Mia was being evaluated for special education services. Without the opportunity for a hearing, Mia’s mother did not have the chance to ask questions about what had happened or to suggest a less severe response that would address Mia’s behavior and allow her to stay at the school. Because the school did not follow the required procedures for students with disabilities, Mia did not receive a behavioral assessment to determine the cause of her behavior and develop effective intervention strategies.


When Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) reviewed the charter school’s discipline policy, we found that, although it had been approved by the charter school’s authorizer and the New York State Board of Regents, it did not comport with the requirements of the law. The policy did not require notice prior to imposing suspensions or expulsions, did not require a hearing prior to suspensions or expulsions, did not place any limits on the kinds of infractions that could trigger an expulsion, and did not include any of the legal protections required for students with disabilities. Indeed, a school administrator acknowledged that, before AFC’s involvement in Mia’s case, she had not been aware of the need to follow additional procedures for students with disabilities, as they were not included in the charter school’s policy.


After AFC intervened, Mia was able to stay at the charter school and begin receiving special education supports and services, including an individualized behavioral plan, that helped to improve her behavior in class.


Over the past few years, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has assisted an increasing number of parents who have contacted us with concerns about charter school suspensions and expulsions. In the past year-and-a-half alone, AFC has provided guidance or legal representation to more than 100 parents in charter school suspension and expulsion cases. Most of these parents had celebrated winning the charter school lottery and wanted their children to continue attending the charter school.


In helping parents with these cases, AFC found that charter school discipline policies were not always readily available.2 Parents often did not have a copy of the policies, and the policies were not always available online.


In June 2013, we sent Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the three New York City charter school authorizers,3 all charter schools operating in NYC during the 2012-2013 school year, and, to the extent possible, charter schools opening in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year seeking, among other things, copies of their discipline policies. Charter schools are required to comply with FOIL requests,4 and most charter schools responded. From the FOIL responses and charter school websites, we were able to review 164 discipline policies from 155 of the 183 charter schools operating in NYC during the 2013-2014 school year.5 These discipline policies came from large charter school networks as well as from small, independent charter schools.


(2) 82 of the 164 NYC charter school discipline policies we reviewed permit suspension or expulsion as a penalty for lateness, absence, or cutting class, in violation of state law.


(3) 133 of the 164 NYC charter school discipline policies we reviewed fail to include the right to written notice of a suspension prior to the suspension taking place, in violation of state law.


(4) 36 of the 164 NYC charter school discipline policies we reviewed fail to include an opportunity to be heard prior to a short-term suspension, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, New York State Constitution, and state law.
(5) 25 of the 164 NYC charter school discipline policies we reviewed fail to include the right to a hearing prior to a long-term suspension, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, New York State Constitution, and state law.


(6) 59 of the 164 NYC charter school discipline policies we reviewed fail to include the right to appeal charter school suspensions or expulsions, even though state law establishes a distinct process for charter school appeals.


(7) 36 of the 164 NYC charter school discipline policies we reviewed fail to include any additional procedures for suspending or expelling students with disabilities, in violation of federal and state law.


(8) 52 of the 164 NYC charter school discipline policies we reviewed fail to include the right to alternative instruction during the full suspension period, in violation of state law.
While charter schools should be able to discipline their students, they must uphold the rights of their students and provide them with a fair discipline process. The Charter Schools Act requires charter school authorizers to ensure that charter applications include discipline policies and procedures that comport with the law.7 Yet, all three authorizers of New York City charter schools have approved charters for schools that have legally inadequate discipline policies.


Based on these findings and our work assisting families in charter school suspension and expulsion cases, we recommend:


(1) Charter school authorizers and the Board of Regents should ensure that charter school discipline policies meet the requirements of the law and are aligned with federal guidance. They should not approve or renew charter schools unless they have discipline policies that comply with the law.


(2) The State Legislature should amend state law to affirm that charter schools must abide by the requirements of Section 3214 of the New York Education Law and its regulations, ending any perceived ambiguity in the law.


(3) The State Legislature should amend state law to include explicit standards for expelling students to ensure that expulsions for all schools, including charter schools, are limited to the most severe and dangerous behaviors in accordance with decisions of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Commissioner.


(4) The State Legislature should amend state law to require all public schools, including charter schools, to provide full-time alternative instruction when students are suspended or expelled. New York City district public school8 students are currently entitled to full- time alternative instruction when they are suspended for more than five days.


(5) The State Legislature should amend state law to require charter schools to report suspension and expulsion data. Charter school authorizers and the Board of Regents should consider suspension and expulsion data, as well as student attrition data, in charter school renewal applications.
(6) Because charter schools and the DOE both have responsibilities to students with disabilities who face suspension or expulsion, charter school authorizers should collaborate with the DOE to develop a memorandum of understanding delineating their respective responsibilities to ensure that these students are receiving protections required by federal and state law.


(7) Charter school authorizers and the Board of Regents, with input from parents, advocates, and students, should develop a model discipline policy to provide guidance to charter school leaders. In addition, authorizers should provide training for charter school leaders and staff in suspension procedures, discipline of students with disabilities, and positive approaches to discipline, such as restorative justice, peer mediation, social-emotional learning, or positive behavior interventions.


(8) Charter school authorizers and the Board of Regents should identify and promote best practices and innovative, positive approaches to discipline, as encouraged by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice.


(9) NYSED should post the Education Commissioner’s charter school suspension and expulsion appeal decisions on the NYSED website, alongside the district public school appeal decisions that are already posted.


(10) The State Legislature should amend the Charter Schools Act to require all charter schools to distribute their discipline policies to students and parents at the beginning of
the school year and post the policies on their websites along with contact information for the appeals/grievance process.


We make these recommendations in recognition that suspension and expulsion can have devastating consequences for the students involved. Suspended students are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, have increased behavioral problems in school, and come into contact with the juvenile justice system. This data is particularly troubling because, nationally and locally, African American students and students with disabilities are suspended from school at rates disproportionate to their peers. One year ago, the federal government called upon all public schools to curb reliance on suspension, expulsion, and zero tolerance policies and to increase use of positive interventions, such as conflict resolution, counseling, and other inclusive approaches to discipline, to address suspension disparities and to minimize the negative impact of suspension on students. Improving school discipline in these ways is integral to creating high- quality public schools, including charter schools, that work for students, teachers, and school communities.”



To read the full study and footnotes, open the link.

From our review, we found:


(1) 107 of the 164 NYC charter school discipline policies we reviewed permit suspension or expulsion as a penalty for any of the infractions listed in the discipline policy, no matter how minor the infraction.

By contrast, the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) Discipline Code aligns infractions with penalties, limiting suspension to certain violations and prohibiting expulsion for all students under age 17 and for all students with disabilities.

The New York City United Federation of Teachers used public data to investigate which schools enroll students with low needs or high needs. The analysis compares charter schools and public schools in the same district.


If you scan through the graphs, you will soon see a pattern. There are a few charters that enroll larger-than-average numbers of students with high needs, but most fall to the right of the distribution.



Horace Meister, a regular contributor, has discovered a shocking instance of contradictory research, posted a year apart by the same “independent” governmental agency. The first report, published a year ago, criticized New York City’s charter schools for enrolling small proportions of high-need students; the second report, published a month ago, claimed that the city’s charter schools had a lower attrition rate of high-needs students than public schools. Meister read the two reports carefully and with growing disgust. He concluded that the Independent Budget Office had massaged the data to reach a conclusion favoring the powerful charter lobby. Eva Moskowitz read the second report and wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal called “The Myth of Charter School ‘Cherry Picking.’” Horace Meister says it is not myth: it is reality.



Meister writes:



In January 2014 the Independent Budget Office in New York City released a report on student attrition rates in the charter school sector in New York City.[i] A year later, in January 2015, the very same office released an “update” of the earlier report.[ii] The story behind this “updated”[iii] report reveals all that is wrong with education policy in the United States.


The original report had a number of fascinating revelations. It turns out that, as a sector, charter schools in New York City are using student demographics and attrition to boost their “performance” in ways that public schools cannot. This, of course, is not an indictment of any particular charter school or the dedicated staff in a specific charter school. It is an indictment of the overall corporate reform policy that favors charter schools over public schools, allows the charter sector to operate under a different set of rules than public schools so that charter schools can employ these sorts of gimmicks, and then dares to claim that charter schools are somehow better overall for students than public schools.


What did the original report reveal?


  1. Charter schools in New York City serve a much more advantaged student population than public schools. The very first table in the report showed that charter schools served 80% fewer English Language Learner students than nearby public schools. Charter schools serve 1/9th the proportion of the highest needs special education students as nearby public schools. Charter schools served a much more economically advantaged student body than nearby public schools—with three times as many students paying full-price for lunch than nearby public schools.
  2. By only accepting students in certain grades charter schools are able to artificially boost their outcomes as compared to nearby public schools. “The increased incidence of transfer to a traditional public school, instead of a charter school, might be due to the fact that many charters limit admissions to traditional starting points (such as kindergarten for elementary schools).” Of course it is the students with higher needs and higher absentee rates who are most likely to transfer at points other than the traditional ones. And, of course, it is illegal for public schools to bar students from admission at points other than the traditional ones, though this tactic is widely employed by charter schools. The disruptions caused by in-migration are also eliminated.
  3. Students with low test scores are more likely to leave charter schools. “The results are revealing. Among students in charter schools, those who remained in their kindergarten schools through third grade had higher average scale scores in both reading (English Language Arts) and mathematics in third grade compared with those who had left for another New York City public school (Figure 3)… One important difference between the two types of schools, particularly manifest when the percentage of students meeting or exceeding proficiency standard is used as the metric, is that the gap between the stayers and movers was significantly larger in charters compared with those in traditional public school.”
  4. Special education students with the highest needs are significantly more likely to leave charter schools than public schools. After leaving the charter schools these students go to public schools. “The attrition rates are higher for special education students who start kindergarten in charter schools than for special education students who start in neighboring traditional public schools. Only 20 percent of students classified as requiring special education who started kindergarten in charter schools remained in the same school after three years, with the vast majority transferring to another New York City public school (see Table 5). The corresponding persistence rate for students in nearby traditional public schools is 50 percent…Of those continuing in the same charter school, 10 percent were identified as special education students by the third year, and of those transferring out to another charter school, 16 percent were special education students (see Figure 2). But of those transferring out to another traditional public school, fully 27 percent were classified as special education students.” Of course the highest need special education students are also, as a rule, the students who perform the poorest on standardized tests.


Reading the original report a couple of unanswered questions suggest themselves. How do individual charter schools or charter school chains differ in the extent to which they employ the four tactics described above? Why did the report only look at the data on students in kindergarten through 3rd grade? In middle schools, where every grade takes high-stakes standardized tests, does the charter sector employ the four tactics to an even greater effect? How does the fact that charter schools only accept students who actively apply to their school impact the overall attrition patterns? As the original report asks, do “other factors such as unobserved differences in student characteristics contribute to some of the gaps in mobility patterns?”


An objective observer would expect that any updated report, such as the one the Independent Budget Office just released, would address at least some of the above questions. But it did not. Instead the “Independent” Budget Office folded under the pressure brought to bear by charter school advocates and their paid researchers. Immediately after the original report was released, a “researcher,” paid for by the Walton Foundation, complained that the report only looked at the highest need special education students and not all special education students.[iv] While true, this has no bearing on the four tactics that the report conclusively showed the charter sector employs to game their results.


A couple of weeks ago, the “Independent” Budget Office, caving to the pressure, “updated” the report to include a cohort of students through 4th grade. Their “finding:” across all special education students, such students are slightly more likely to remain in charter schools than public schools. The media parroted these claims. This “finding” is, however, entirely bogus. Instead of using the categories that generally correspond to the level of need (namely whether the student requires a self-contained class or can be supported in mixed classes or even classes that are entirely general education), the report uses the named disability category (namely speech impaired, learning disabled, other health impaired, all other disabilities) of each student. This, of course, tells us nothing about the severity of each student’s need within the category. Instead it covers up the fact, which we already know from the original report, that charter schools are much more likely than public schools to selectively attrite the students with the highest level of special education needs, the very same students who are most likely to bring down their test scores. But now special interests and the media can trumpet the fact that charter schools in New York City keep their special education students at higher rates than public schools.


Ignored in the new analysis is the fact that the charters serve an entirely different mix of special education students, i.e. students much, much less likely to require the highest level of accommodations and supports. Importantly, the “Independent” Budget Office did not just add these broader-brushed approaches to the analyses of the original report; it declined to repeat, with the updated dataset, the analysis of the sky-high attrition rates of highest need special education students at charter schools. It declined to repeat, with the updated dataset, the analysis of higher attrition among students with low test scores at charter schools. It declined to repeat, with the updated dataset, the analysis of student creaming by charter schools. It declined to break down the updated dataset so that we could learn more about the tactics employed by individual charter schools and charter school chains. It declined to even look at the unanswered questions about charter middle schools.



Fortunately, for those interested in the truth, at about the same time, other data were released showing just how much the charter sector in New York City relies on tricks, rather than true educational innovations, to produce their “results.”[v] The data break down the comparisons between charter schools and public schools, school by school and district by district.[vi]


It turns out that the charter sector suspends students at rates up to twenty-six times higher than public schools in the same geographic region, despite the fact that the charter schools serve only a self-selected student body.[vii] These data may explain how charters are able to selectively attrite the most troublesome students who bring down their test scores. They harass the students until they leave for the public schools, which are of course morally and legally obligated to accept every student.


It turns out that public schools serve up to five times as many students living in temporary housing as charter schools in the same geographic region.[viii] This little fact may be one of those “other factors,” mentioned in passing by the “Independent” Budget Office, that explain why public schools have a slightly higher overall student transition rate than charter schools. Obviously kids with no permanent home are more likely to move around and switch schools.


It turns out that all of the highest-flying charter schools serve a much, much more advantaged student body than the local public schools.[ix] It is almost shocking to see not a single charter school represented among the schools in the top quarter of student need, in any of New York City’s 32 geographic regions. The gaps in student need are even higher when looking at charter schools co-located in the same buildings as public schools.[x] In co-locations the public school serves up to six times as many students living in temporary housing, up to twenty times as many English Language Learners, and many multiples the number of special education students as the charter school in the very same building!


What we have here is a failure to tell the truth. The “Independent” Budget Office, aided by a compliant press, has whitewashed the story of inequity that it itself had helped flesh out just a year earlier.


The data could not be any clearer. Charter schools have no secret sauce. In fact, they are creating more segregation and greater inequity in our school system. The time has come to end the charade. Charter schools must be folded under the umbrella of the public school system. We must then have the difficult conversations that have been avoided due to all the tumult and distractions caused by the charter school corporate reform agenda.[xi] How do we serve all students in a nation with significant, perhaps increasing, opportunity gaps? What can schools do to help mitigate the overwhelming disadvantages that students growing up in poverty face? Since it is obvious that schools can’t do much in isolation what can we, as a nation, do to support schools in their work of providing opportunity to all students?






[iii] Apologies in advance for the generous use of scare quotes. But it’s almost impossible to tell this sordid tale without them.


[iv] This researcher had, by this time, already made many claims about special education students and charter schools in New York City that had been debunked. See for example




[vi] The fact that the teacher’s union had to collate this data and not a single “independent” journalist could be bothered to do so, despite the regular appearance of newspaper stories and editorials praising charter schools, tells us just how biased the media is when it comes to education policy. It suggests that media outlets would benefit by being more skeptical of charter school claims when deciding upon and reporting upon their stories.










[xi] It may not take a conspiracy theorist to assume that this conversation is exactly what the special interests groups that back charter schools want to prevent from happening.

At a hearing in Albany, NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina disagreed bluntly with Governor Cuomo ‘s proposal to base 50% of teacher evaluations on student test scores and 35% on the judgement of independent evaluators, people from outside the school.

“I think 50 percent based on tests is too much,” Ms. Fariña told state legislators at a budget hearing on Tuesday, in comments that were echoed by representatives of other large school districts. “We need a human touch any time we evaluate anyone for anything.”

She also objective to the “independent evaluators.”

“Ms. Fariña said that teachers needed to be observed over time, watched for things like whether they engaged with parents or gave special attention to students who needed extra help, and that “flybys” could not replace that.”

And she added:

“There’s so many other things,” Fariña said. “I was a teacher for more than 20 years and if I was only measured in test scores, that would only have been a little bit of my work…..”

“I absolutely believe that holding teachers accountable only on test scores and outside evaluators is not a good idea,” Fariña said in response to questions about Cuomo’s plan.

Cuomo told the Buffalo News that:

“The test is really the only easy answer because it is objective numerical data and it was the same test with the same demographic,” Cuomo told a group of reporters and editors from The Buffalo News on Tuesday.”

The difference between Farina and Cuomo is that she has been a teacher, a principal, a superintendent, and now Chancellor. She is a veteran educator who knows teaching and learning. Cuomo has no experience in education but insists that he knows how teachers should be evaluated.

It is clear that he is over his head. He doesn’t know that most teachers don’t teach tested subjects. How does he propose to evaluate teachers of the arts, physical education, foreign languages, teachers of K-2, and high school teachers. It is a shame that he is unfamiliar with the extensive research on test-based accountability and VAM.


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