Archives for category: New York

Governor Cuomo oftens complains about spending on public schools. But he fails to mention budget cuts and inequitable funding. A new report by the Alliance for Quality Education lays out the facts and their consequences for Néw York’s public schools.

Good report /summary below of funding gap and education cuts since CFE.

New York state’s public schools have suffered devastating budget cuts over the past several years. As is so often the case around the country, the burden is overwhelmingly placed on the students and communities who most need support.

The details of this tragedy are described in a new report released today by the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) in partnership with Opportunity Action. “Billions Behind: New York State Continues to Violate Students’ Constitutional Rights” does more than illuminate the problem: it also lays out solutions to New York’s school funding crisis.

There is a way to more equitably distribute school aid across the state — it’s a formula called Foundation Aid — but seven years after its unveiling, policymakers in Albany have still refused to fully fund it.

Quality education is a constitutional right for every New York student, a right denied to many children thanks to these budget cuts. As AQE’s Zakiyah Ansari put it, “This report doesn’t just show a funding problem, it’s also a civil rights problem.”

In light of this week’s announcement of a $6.2 billion state budget surplus heading into next year, now is the time to close the funding gap and ensure an opportunity to learn for each and every New York student.

Read the full report here.

Read the press release here.

Opportunity Action
1680 Duke Street | Alexandria, VA 22314 | 703-838-6722


Join educators and community leaders for an important one day Summer Institute to provide an alternate pathway to the test based accountability system. On August 21st, leaders will convene at Dowling College from 8:30am- 3:00 pm to explore the work of Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves (Professional Capital) as they work collaboratively to build the social capital needed to confront the de-professionalization of teaching.

For more information please contact David Gamberg at:, or go to the following website for details:

AFT President Randi Weingarten Calls for Full Release of Test Questions

WASHINGTON— Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten following news that a portion of the Common Core-aligned testing questions were released in New York as teachers and community members protest the overuse of testing in Albany.

“Releasing just some of the Common Core-aligned test questions in the middle of the summer doesn’t cut it. Parents and educators repeatedly have called for the full release of the questions—even taking our call to the Pearson shareholder meeting this past spring.

“We renew our call for the full release of the test questions—in a timely manner and in a way that is most useful for parents, educators and kids—not in the middle of the summer and right before the test results are announced.”


Fred Smith worked for many years at the New York City Board of Education as a testing analyst. For all the parent groups who are upset by the over-testing of their children and concerned about the quality of the tests, Smith has become the go-to guy, who can be counted on to give a tough review of what the testing corporations are doing and what they should be doing.


In this post, Smith takes the New York State Education Department to task for withholding the technical report on the 2013 state tests. Just this week, responding to public outrage about its lack of transparency, the Department released 50% of the questions on the April 2014 tests. Until 2011, the SED released the entire exam with questions and answers. But no more. Since Pearson became the state’s testing agency, the state has been parsimonious in releasing questions and also technical data needed to understand the validity of the tests and the items.


The technical report for the 2013 tests should have been released in December 2013, but was not made public until July 2014. This is ridiculous. The information was available in Albany but was kept under wraps.


Smith says it is time for transparency and truth in testing. The public cannot trust the tests without seeing it and without allowing experienced experts like Smith to review its technical quality.










Although Peter Greene teaches in Pennsylvania, he decided to review New York state’s curriculum guides about the Common Core standards. He pulls them apart and shows that they tell teachers to do what they were already doing, or they make demands that have no evidence to support them.

It is a hilarious deconstruction of engageNY, the state education department’s prized curriculum.

Greene concludes:

“So there you have it, in brief. EngageNY’s interpretation of the Core– one part useless foolishness, one part stuff that isn’t actually in the CCSS, and one part pedagogy that any non-brain-dead teacher was already using. Thank goodness the CCSS are here to save us.”

Long Island, New York, is home to the state’s biggest concentration of parents and educators who are in search of a better alternative to the state’s obsession with high-stakes testing. It is also home to a vigorous opt-out movement. This event promises to be a first-rate evening of discussion about where we go from here to improve our schools and find a better philosophy than test-and-punish.



Join community members and fellow educators in exploring the

Business Capital
Professional Capital

Models of Education

In this latest and most important collaboration, renowned educators Andy Hargreaves and
Michael Fullan set out a groundbreaking new agenda to transform the future of teaching and
public education. Ideas-driven, evidence-based, and strategically powerful, Professional
Capitalcombats the tired arguments and stereotypes of teachers and teaching It includes
action guidelines for classroom teachers, administrators, schools and districts, and state and
federal leaders. This is a book that no one connected with schools can afford to ignore.

August 21st,2014


TEAMS to register
receive a free copy of
the book!

150 Idle Hour Blvd, Oakdale, NY 11769

Fee $25

DISTRICT TEAMS consisting of 4-6 participants-BOE members, teachers,
administrators, union and PTA representatives are encouraged to attend.

First 10 teams to register receive a free copy of the book in advance of the event.
All others, register by August 15th to receive a 40% discount on the book.

OR CONTACT DAVID GAMBERG AT (631) 765-5409 EXT. 304 or at


New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James wrote the following letter to John King but has received no answer. King believes that children must be tested as a matter of civil rights. James, who is also African American, does not agree. What do you think?


Letitia James

June 25, 2014

Commissioner John King
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234

Dear Commissioner King:

I am writing you to express my concern regarding the New York State Education Department (SED) stand-alone field testing policy. I am strongly recommending that the New York State Education Department ban field testing for all New York City students. SED’s $32 million, five-year contract with test publisher Pearson did not include stand-alone field testing of multiple-choice items in math and English language arts (ELA). Pearson’s approach to test development is costly and unworkable and uses our students as guinea pigs.
My office met with educators, parents and advocates who are concerned about stand-alone field tests. They are frustrated with the SED lack of transparency and the pressure for teachers to teach to the test. High stakes testing has put unnecessary pressure on many families and educators and averts schools from developing curricula that promotes critical thinking. Stand-alone field testing is yet another test that takes teachers away from the classroom. In a 2011 report to Congress, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed America’s test-based accountability systems and concluded, “there are little to no positive effects of these systems overall on student learning and educational progress.”

The data generated by students taking a stand alone field test is unreliable and does not provide Pearson with meaningful information needed to design a valid test. This flawed approach is evident in the poorly developed 2012 and 2013 ELA and math exams. As field tests continue this June, these problems will still be prevalent and irrelevant exams will continue to be produced. Teachers and parents have publicly criticized testing materials stating that the items were not aligned with children’s developmental levels.

Rather than administering field tests, schools should focus on spending more time in the classroom to improve performance and encourage students to reach their potential. I trust that you understand the pressures that these students must be experiencing and urge you to stop field-testing in our state.

Please feel free to contact my office with any further questions and I look forward to your reply.

Letitia James
Public Advocate of the City of New York


At the heart of the Vergara decision lies a logical fallacy: eliminate due process and seniority from teachers, and schools with low-performing students will magically have a great teacher in every classroom. To say this makes no sense is an understatement.

In this post, Bruce Baker demonstrates that it makes no sense empirically either.

As he concludes: “In the land of VergarNYa… a world where logical fallacy rules the day and where empirical evidence simply doesn’t matter…”

There is something about corporate education reform that encourages chutzpah. Chutzpah is a Yiddish word for arrogance. Reformers think they are on the front lines of the civil rights movement. They think that making tests harder helps kids who are already struggling. They think that if the failure rate for black and Hispanic kids goes higher, these kids are getting the help they need. Please don’t ask me to explain the logic behind their train of thought. I suppose their inflated opinion of themselves leads the corporate reformers to reach absurd conclusions.

Take New York State Commissioner John King. His teaching experience is limited to three years in a no-excuses charter school where poor kids were expelled for minor infractions. Having been chosen to lead the Empire State, where only 3% of children are in charters, he has decided that the Common Core standards are his heroic mission. He has compared himself to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And just a few days ago, he said that the advocates for the Common Core were like the all-black World War II unit called the Tuskegee Airmen.

Please don’t ask me to explain the logic. There is none. In the first administration of Common Core testing, 95% of children with disabilities failed. More than 80% of African-American and Hispanic children failed. These tests have passing marks designed to fail most kids, and the burden falls most heavily on minority children. Instead of help and reduced class sizes, they get more tests. What part of this scenario would be supported by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? What part is similar to the bravery of the Tuskegee Airmen?

It makes no sense. But then, Common Core makes no sense. It was underwritten by one man, Bill Gates. It was imposed by making it a condition of Race to the Top. The tests were federally funded (an act of dubious legality). It eviscerates state and local control of education. It sets poor kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, and those with disabilities on a road to failure. What part of this terrible scenario resonates with the civil rights movement?

The only thing Dr. John King has in common with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is his last name. The current Dr. King should have the decency to refrain from comparing himself to a man who distinguished himself by his humility, his compassion, his decency, his astonishing intellect, and his genuine concern for those who had the least. He sought equity. He fought for unions, good jobs, good housing, fair wages. In my reading of Dr. King’s work, I never once encountered a passage in which he said that what black children need most is testing.

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.


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