Archives for category: New York

Over a century ago, a young teacher named Margaret Haley became active in the Chicago Teachers Federation. She and other members of the Federation became outraged by a proposal that would impose business practices on the schools and institute a new salary plan that favored mostly male high school teachers over mostly female elementary teachers. They organized and defeated the proposal.


In 1899, Haley led a campaign for better funding of the Chicago schools. She brandished tax records of the city’s biggest businesses, showing that they were not paying their fair share. As a result of her exposé, corporate taxes were raised as was school funding.


Margaret Haley is today recognized as a founder of the teachers’ union movement.


But some things never change. I recently received a copy of a report published in 2011 by a group called the Public Accountability Initiative. The report lists the businesses and individuals who have contributed to a campaign (“The Committee to Save New York”) to keep taxes low while their own corporations benefit from tax benefits and tax avoidance. The report refers to these corporations and individual s as the “Committee to Scam New York.”


The report shows how the Committee to Save New York is a coalition of many different pro-business, anti-tax lobbies. It also shows that its members have benefited by tax breaks and tax avoidance. The consequences: vast wealth for the rich, unemployment and poverty for everyone else.


Margaret Haley would have been delighted–and outraged–by this report.

The task force appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to review the Common Core standards, testing, and teacher evaluation will recommend a moratorium on tying teacher evaluation to test scores--as much as four years–and a reboot of the standards and tests.


Why Cuomo is making these decisions is unclear because the New York State Constitution gives the governor no role in education. The New York State Board of Regents is the legal authority, not the governor, but this governor decided to take control of education.


Meanwhile, we wait to hear from Governor Cuomo to see what in the task force report he agrees with, since he has made himself the Decider.

Michael Hynes, superintendent of schools in Patchogue, Long Island, in New York, has a new idea: Let’s forget about the politicians and do what we know is best for students. Hynes is hereby declared a hero of public education for truly putting children first.


The Greater Patchogue website reports that Superintendent Hynes is working with the school board and a committee of 65 to forge a better path for the Patchogue-Medford schools. Hynes’ motto is “leave no stone unturned.”


Hynes, who has been an outspoken supporter of the opt out movement, said:



“If we want to stay on the same road and be average and settle for mediocrity, then we’re not going to turn over every stone,” Hynes said in his first in-depth media interview about the plan. “But if you really want to bring this place to another level for our kids, then what you need to do is make sure you look at everything humanly possible that’s going to benefit all of our students.”


“He looks to the positive growth of Patchogue Village as inspiration, explaining how the village’s leaders had a clear goal of what they wanted to accomplish, and though there was some pushback, once people started seeing real results, then even doubters began to buy in.


“Hynes indicated some drastic changes will be explored, and with that, there could be pushback.


“The hardest part will be holding onto our old mental models, or thoughts and feelings of how schools should be,” he said. “Because the one common experience we all have is we all went to school, and there are a lot of emotions attached to that. Many people think that it should stay the same.


“I think some things should remain the same, but with some things, because of time and because of the way things are, we need to think differently, and we need to be progressive. And that’s what I’m hoping this plan becomes. But it also needs to be inclusive and collaborative.”


“Pressed for details, Hynes mentioned the possibility of reconfiguring the district elementary schools so that they’re no longer K-5 schools drawing students from the immediate neighborhoods. The schools would instead be grouped by grade through what’s called a Princeton Plan, or Princeton Model.


“He noted that Princeton Plans are often proposed in districts that are looking to close a school.


“If its sole purpose is to save money, I don’t believe in it,” he said. “If you move to a different construct because it’s best for kids, and allows teachers to meet more often, to collaborate, to serve kids in a higher and more efficient way, then that’s a model we need to look at. That doesn’t meant adopt, but at least investigate and research it.”

“The district could examine freeing up a building for vocational opportunities, he said.


Hynes explained that, currently, students who might be looking toward the trades or the military, as opposed to college, aren’t offered resources within the district to pursue those interests until the twelfth grade.


“For us, we want to start providing those opportunities in ninth grade,” he said. “Right now we’re missing out on three extremely vital years.”


“A vocational school would allow Patchogue-Medford to offer trade skills from plumbing to hairdressing to paralegal work, he said.


“These are professions where people are making a good living,” Hynes said. “The caveat is, it would have to include a one-year internship program through the Patchogue and Medford areas, and that’s where a relationship with the larger community comes into play.”


“As for the district’s higher-achievers, Hynes said there are opportunities for them to be challenged even further, such as through a Geneva-based International Baccalaureate program.


“We’re already looking at the feasibility of that,” he said. “It’s an investment, not only in resources but it’s actually an investment in our educators, because they have to be trained as well.”


With special education and English language-learners, Hynes said there could be more of an emphasis on before and after school opportunities, outside of the students’ core academic work, that could help them socialize within the wider communities more effectively.



“Asked about whether spending would need to increase under the strategic plan, and if the district would consider bonding, Hynes replied as follows:


“You want to do whatever is necessary to accomplish what needs to be done. When we look at cost, we’re going to look at investment and return on the investment, and if the return on the investment is worth it, then anything is possible as far as I’m concerned…..


“Asked how the plan could operate within the state’s mandates, including its across-the-board educational standards, Hynes — an outspoken critic of recent education reform efforts in Albany — said he must do now whatever he believes is in the long-term interests of Patchogue-Medford students — not wait for Albany to figure its own policies out.


“If this plan comes to the place where I think it can, I would like the state to exempt us from 3 through 8 testing, and allow us to evaluate teachers on our own accord, based on our professional judgements, and assess students in a much better way,” Hynes said.


“Then we can possibly use this as a case study for other districts in New York State, to see if this is a possibility for them to — I don’t want to say emulate, but to look into and make it their own.


“Nothing like this has ever been done before.”


Superintendent Michael Hynes is already a member of the blog’s honor roll.

Ever wonder who is the supplying the money behind the privatization of public schools?

It is a long list, and it starts with the U.S. Department of Education. Every year since 1994, your taxpayer dollars have been used to open schools that drain resources from your public schools while selecting the students they want. If your state has charters, you can expect that they will lobby the legislature for more charters. They will close their schools, hire buses, and send students, teachers, and parents to the State Capitol, all dressed in matching T-shirts, to demand more charters. Since the children are already enrolled in a charter and can’t attend more than one, they are being used to advance the financial interests of charter chains, which want to expand.

The big foundations support the growth of the charter industry: the Walton Family Foundation has put more than $1 billion into charters and vouchers; the Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation also put millions into charters, often partnering with the Far-right Walton Foundation.

There is a long list of other foundations that fund the assault on public education, including the John Arnold Foundation (ex-Enron trader), the Dell Foundation, the Helmsley Foundation, the Fisher Family Foundation (Gap and Old Navy), the Michael Bloomberg Foundation, and many more.

Here is a list of the funders of 50CAN, which started in Connecticut as ConnCAN, created by billionaires, corporate executives, and hedge fund managers, led by Jonathan Sackler, uber-rich Big Pharma.

Here is an example of a foundation that is very active in support of privatization. Check out where their money goes.

ALEC uses its clout with far-right legislators to promote charters and vouchers, as well as to negate local control over charters.

To see where the Walton Family Foundation spread over $202 million to advance privatization, look here.

The money trail is so large, that it is hard to know where to begin. Certain recipients do collect large sums with frequency, including KIPP, Teach for America, Education Trust, to name just a few.

As we say at the Network for Public Education, we are many, they are few. They have money, we have votes. Out ideas for children and education are sound, their ideas fail every time, everywhere.

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.


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