Archives for category: New York

The superintendents association of Nassau County (Long Island), Néw York, have called on the state to stop evaluating teachers by test scores. Nassau County has some of the state’s most successful schools.

“They wrote that they understand the need for a system that ensures highly effective instruction, but said “the exaggerated use of student test data” undermines that goal. The letter cited position papers by the American Educational Research Association and the American Statistical Association that question such use of student test data.

“Equally flawed, they said, has been the attempt to devise a rating system for the vast majority of educators who teach subjects or grade levels not associated with the state exams in English language arts and math given to students in grades three through eight.”

The full text of the document is included in the link.

This is one of the best parodies ever, using an all-purpose clip that has served many parodists in the past.

I have seen this clip used at least half a dozen times to ridicule education scams and frauds.

In this case, the clip parodies the New York State Education Department, determined to shove Common Core standards and tests down the throats of the state’s children and furious that parents are opting out.

This will give you a good laugh!

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?

I wish someone would take the time to figure out how many hundreds of millions or billions New York state has spent to implement the Race to the Top, which brought the state $700 million. Three years ago, a suburban superintendent estimated that the $400,000 won by six districts had cost them $11 million.


Carol Burris, recently retired principal and now executive director of the Network for Public Education, writes here a succinct summary of the mess that teacher evaluation is in since the state won a grant from the Race to the Top.


When the New York State Education Department began its mission of preparing educators, it proudly showed a film of a plane being built in mid-air. This ridiculous metaphor turned out to be apt. The reality is that  you cannot build a plane in mid-air, and the odds are certain that the plane will crash. Who in his or her right mind would board a plane that was not yet built and had just enough power to be airborne? Now the video is nowhere to be found (it used to be on the SED website, but no longer.)


Governor Cuomo keeps putting his redesign of the plane into the mix, making the flight even more impossible. He pushed a plan that was adopted, then was disappointed when too many teachers were highly rated. He then denounced his own plan and insisted that student test scores count for 50% of teachers’ evaluations. At this point, the overwhelming majority of districts have applied for and received waivers, giving them more time to figure out what to do.


It is a mess. The plane has crashed and burned.


Meanwhile, teachers and principals go about their daily responsibilities, trying to educate the state’s children, while the politicians continue to meddle in matters they don’t understand.


Opting out is about to become the norm on Long Island, the epicenter of New York’s opt out movement.

The East Meadow, Long Island, New York school board adopted a policy of providing alternative activities for children who do not take the state tests.

Last July, the board unanimously adopted a resolution in opposition to Governor Cuomo’s teacher evaluation law, which makes test scores count for 50% of a teacher’s evaluation. This makes test scores super-important and guarantees that an inordinate amount of time will be devoted to test prep.

Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of the New York Board of Regents, denounced Governor Andrew Cuomo’s education policymaking via the budget process. Under the New York State Constitution, the Regents are in charge of education policy. That is their role. But last spring, Governor Cuomo imposed a new teacher evaluation plan as part of the state budget.

State Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch Monday spoke out Monday against the new teacher evaluation system backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying she doesn’t think education policy should be written into legislation or be part of the budget process.

“Our forefathers and mothers were very clever in how they designed the system in New York State, creating a state policy board that was separate from the executive branch,” Tisch told hundreds of school board members, educators and advocates at a panel discussion at annual New York State School Boards Association conference in Manhattan.

“I think now it’s going to be really hard to convince a lot of people who are up for election to go in and reopen the law that they really would kind of like to put behind them,” she said.

Jan Resseger served for many years as program director for education justice of the United Church of Christ. She is a woman with a strong social conscience, who is devoted to the well-being of all children. She lives in Ohio. When I first visited Cleveland, I had the privilege of being escorted by Jan, who showed me the stark disparities between the affluent suburbs and the downtrodden inner-city.

Jan Resseger writes here of the calamities imposed on our nation’s education system by Arne Duncan, who changed the national education goal from equality of educational opportunity for all to a “race to the top” for the few. He shifted our sights from equal opportunity and equitable funding to test scores; he pretended that poverty was unimportant and could be solved by closing public schools and turning children over to private entrepreneurs who had little supervision.

Read Jan’s entire piece: Duncan was a disaster as a molder of education policy. He ignored segregation and it grew more intense on his watch. His successor, John King, was a clone of Duncan in New York state. He too thinks that test scores are the measure of education quality, despite the fact that what they measure best is family income. He too, a founder of charter schools, prefers charters over public education. His hurried implementation of the Common Core standards and tests in New York were universally considered disastrous, even by Governor Cuomo; John King, more than anyone else, ignited the parent opt out movement in New York. And his role model was Arne Duncan.

Jan Resseger writes:

School policy ripped out of time and history: in many ways that is Arne Duncan’s gift to us — school policy focused on disparities in test scores instead of disparities in opportunity — a Department of Education obsessed with data-driven accountability for teachers, but for itself an obsession with “game-changing” innovation and inadequate attention to oversight — the substitution of the consultant driven, win-lose methodology of philanthropy for formula-driven government policy — school policy that favors social innovation, one charter at a time. Such policies are definitely a break from the past. Whether they promise better opportunity for the mass of our nation’s children, and especially our poorest children, is a very different question.

School policy focused on disparities in test scores instead of disparities in opportunity: Here is what a Congressional Equity and Excellence Commission charged in 2013, five years into Duncan’s tenure as Education Secretary: “The common situation in America is that schools in poor communities spend less per pupil—and often many thousands of dollars less per pupil—than schools in nearby affluent communities… This is arguably the most important equity-related variable in American schooling today. Let’s be honest: We are also an outlier in how many of our children are growing up in poverty. Our poverty rate for school-age children—currently more than 22 percent—is twice the OECD average and nearly four times that of leading countries such as Finland.” Arne Duncan’s signature policies ignore these realities. While many of Duncan’s programs have conditioned receipt of federal dollars on states’ complying with Duncan’s favored policies, none of Duncan’s conditions involved closing opportunity gaps. To qualify for a Race to the Top grant, a state had to remove any statutory cap on the authorization of new charter schools, and to win a No Child Left Behind waiver, a state had to agree to evaluate teachers based on students’ test scores, but Duncan’s policies never conditioned receipt of federal dollars on states’ remedying school funding inequity. Even programs like School Improvement Grants for the lowest scoring 5 percent of American schools have emphasized school closure and privatization but have not addressed the root problem of poverty in the communities where children’s scores are low.

A Department of Education obsessed with data-driven accountability for teachers, but for itself an obsession with “game-changing” innovation and inadequate attention to oversight: The nation faces an epidemic of teacher shortages and despair among professionals who feel devalued as states rush to implement the teacher-rating policies they adopted to win their No Child Left Behind waivers from the federal government. Even as evidence continues to demonstrate that students’ test scores correlate more closely with family income than any other factor, and as scholars declare that students’ test scores are unreliable for evaluating teachers, Duncan’s policies have unrelentingly driven state governments to create policy that has contributed to widespread blaming of the teachers who serve in our nation’s poorest communities.

However, Duncan’s Department of Education has been far less attentive to accountability for its own programs. In June, the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a coalition of national organizations made up of the American Federation of Teachers, Alliance for Educational Justice, Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, Center for Popular Democracy, Gamaliel, Journey for Justice Alliance, National Education Association, National Opportunity to Learn Campaign, and Service Employees International Union, asked Secretary Duncan to establish a moratorium on federal support for new charter schools until the Department improves its own oversight of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, which is responsible for the federal Charter School Program. The Alliance to Reclaim our Schools cites formal audits from 2010 and 2012 in which the Department of Education’s own Office of Inspector General (OIG), “raised concerns about transparency and competency in the administration of the federal Charter Schools Program.” The OIG’s 2012 audit, the members of the Alliance explain, discovered that the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, which administers the Charter Schools Program, and the State Education Agencies, which disburse the majority of the federal funds, are ill equipped to keep adequate records or put in place even minimal oversight.

Most recently, just last week, the Department of Education awarded $249 million to seven states and the District of Columbia for expanding charter schools, with the largest of those grants, $71 million, awarded to Ohio, despite that protracted Ohio legislative debate all year has failed to produce regulations for an out-of-control, for-profit group of online charter schools or to improve Ohio’s oversight of what are too often unethical or incompetent charter school sponsors. The U.S. Department of Education made its grant last week despite that Ohio’s legislature is known to have been influenced by political contributions from the owners of for-profit charter schools.

Colin Schumacher, a teacher at the Earth School in Néw York City, has written a thoughtful analysis of the ethical responsibilities. What should a teacher do when the Governor and Legislature pass laws that harm children and require teachers to abandon their conscience?

Jeff Bryant aptly describes the battle for control of public education in New York City. A group of billionaires–actually, nine of them–have formed an organization called “Families for Excellent Schools.” The name, like all of those invented by the corporate reformers, is intended to confuse the public into thinking that the group consists of families who are eager to improve all schools or families who are on the waiting list for a charter school. In fact, the “families” that contribute to this group have one goal: to increase the number of charter schools, without regard to collateral damage to the public schools that enroll the other 1 million children in public schools.

The billionaires, as Bryant shows, have opposed Mayor de Blasio’s programs to expand universal pre-kindergarten, to support struggling schools instead of closing them, to provide more reading specialists and counselors, and to make more AP classes available. They have used their considerable clout to demand more charters and to oppose equitable funding for public schools. A lawsuit that ended years ago called the Campaign for Fiscal Equity directed the state to pay the city billions more to fund public schools, but Governor Cuomo has ignored the CFE decision and pretends that charter schools are THE answer.

Bryant writes:

Understand that de Blasio’s desire to ramp up funding for new education programs comes at a time when powerful forces who control state education policy in New York state are convinced public schools need to make do with less. As a recent article in The Nation explains, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “has banked his gubernatorial legacy” on refusing to adequately fund his state’s public schools.

Reporter George Joseph traces Cuomo’s stubborn refusal to abide a court-ordered overhaul of the Empire State’s education finances to a “coalition” of extremely wealthy people – principally, only nine individuals – who back an organization, Families for Excellent Schools, and operate a Super PAC that has smashed almost all lobbying records in Albany, the state capital, and influenced elections with massive campaign donations.

Joseph finds that FES – combined with New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, another powerful organization financed by the same individuals – now largely shapes education policy in the state, a policy that strongly opposes the legally required equitable funding of New York public schools.

“The state owes its schools a whopping $5.9 billion, according to a recent study” Joseph points out. “Yet somehow in this prolonged period of economic necessity, billionaire hedge-fund managers continue to enjoy lower tax rates than the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers.”

The state’s stingy attitude toward education funding flies in the face of recent research studies showing funding levels for education have real consequences for students. Even people who are politically conservative recognize this.

The billionaires say that it is not necessary to “throw money” at the public schools, but meanwhile they don’t blink at spending $40,000 a year for their own child’s education in private schools that offer all the things that poor kids don’t have: small classes, the arts, beautiful facilities, up-to-date technology, no standardized testing, and no teacher evaluation based on test scores.

Instead, they fight doggedly for charter schools, which skim the most motivated students and families from the public schools, further harming them.

Is there a billionaire in the United States who wants to help all children, not just some children? Is there one who will join the fight against privatization of public education?

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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