Archives for category: New York

The Néw York Board of Regents is meeting today to vote on a proposal to make field testing of online Pearson tests for Common Core mandatory. Commissioner John King says it will make the tests more valid and reliable.

But it won’t make the tests useful to teachers or students. Teachers are not allowed to know which questions their students got right or wrong, so the tests have no diagnostic value. They are not allowed to discuss the tests with one another. The tests are an expensive waste of time.

In the past, Pearson tests have had numerous errors. How will the public know if their children are fairly judged?

Teachers must teach to the tests to help the children and to protect their jobs.

This is not education. It is regimentation.

Call your Regent and tell them not to make field testing mandatory. Call your legidlators. Enough is enough.

Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center in Long Island, New York, tells a shocking story about the intransigence of the New York State PTA to concerns expressed by some of its members. In 2012, parents and educators in the Niagara region of the state prepared a resolution opposing high-stakes testing. They wanted to present it to the state PTA convention, but were told it was too late and their resolution would not be considered. The parents refined their resolution and tried again the next year, but the state leaders of the PTA once again said that their resolution would not be presented to the membership at the state convention.

 

Meanwhile, the New York State PTA developed its own position paper on the issues. That paper was remarkable in what it did not say–in fact it appeared to be deliberately designed to say nothing at all. There were only vague references to the effects of high-stakes testing, along with a “thumbs up” for the Common Core State Standards and APPR, the state’s controversial teacher evaluation system. The group took heart that their stronger resolution would be approved by those attending the Convention, allowing the State PTA to take a stronger stand. However, once again it was rejected by the resolutions committee with a letter that outlined the reasoning.

 

The rejection letter was an odd response that talked about Regents exams (the resolution was for 3-8 tests only) and criticized Niagara for not defining “high stakes testing,” It claimed that the position paper that the New York State PTA had recently issued was in conflict with the resolution, because it called for student scores to not be used in teacher evaluations. In fact, the NYS PTA position paper never mentioned the use of Grades 3-8 tests scores in APPR at all. It used the term “multiple measures.”

 

At the NYSPTA conventions of 2012 and 2013, Principal John McKenna and two parent representatives read statements of concern about testing from the floor. As he told me, “Our statements were met with great applause and support from the membership.”

 

That support strengthened their resolve to create a resolution that would be acceptable. In 2014, the Niagara Region PTA broke their resolution in half, creating two different resolutions to meet the objections of the state committee. “The ask” in one resolution was a review of APPR and a delay in its use for employment decisions. The second resolution asked for a delay in the use of high-stakes testing, a return to the development of assessments by teachers and a restoration of school funding.

 

Once again, the resolutions were rejected.

 

Burris asks whether the New York State PTA represents parents or teachers. The state has been in an uproar over the Common Core and the tests, which now require third graders to be tested for nine hours. Yet parents and teachers cannot get their state organization to hear their voices.

 

Who does the New York State PTA represent?

Jeanette Deuterman is a parent in Long Island, New York, who started a group called Long Island Opt Out. It now has 22,000 members. Long Island is the center of the anti-testing, anti-Common Core movement in New York State (with the Lower Hudson Valley a close second). Deuterman recently attended a forum composed of local superintendents to explain the virtues of the Common Core, and she was ready.

 

She wrote about the event:

 

There was a forum last night called “Common Core: Uncommon Challenges”. Panelists included Lydia Bellino, Assistant Superintendent for Cold Spring Harbor, Lorna Lewis, Superintendent Plainview Old Bethpage, Lydia Begley, Asst Superintendent Nassau BOCES, and moderated by Thomas Rogers, Superintendent for Syosset. Knowing who the speakers were, we knew that this would be a CC cheerleading forum. We rounded up our own experts – teachers, BATS, liaisons, and myself, and attended the event. For the first hour we heard how great it was that our second graders can use difficult advanced words in everyday language. We heard about 4 and 5 year olds learning how to write sentences. We were told that although it’s a plane being built in the air with our children on board, in a few years it will be great! Then it was our turn. One by one OUR experts approached the mike, and gave the true picture of CC and testing. We talked about privatizing, inappropriate grade level material, money, special needs and ELL children being broken and left behind, 5th graders who, being the first CC regents class, may not graduate, and 9th graders getting the brunt. We talked about those that DO stand with us to protect public education, and asked the panel “WHERE DO YOU STAND??” The response was that letters have been written, and some signed onto [Rep. Steven] Israel’s Bill…..Oh, and here I thought they might be part of the problem.

 

As often happens, when it was my turn at the mike, it was time to wrap it up. So I will write my response to the panel here instead.
Do you want to know why we are so upset? Do you want to know why we are now directing that anger at this panel? Because what we have heard is all the small benefits you see of CC. We didn’t hear you complain of testing. We didn’t hear you say the testing time is inappropriate and abusive. We didn’t hear you acknowledge that you understand why we as parents, choose to opt our children out. We didn’t hear you acknowledge the very real and very dangerous side of CC. We didn’t hear you say you understand that this is a means to privatize public education and make ungodly amounts of money. You are school leaders. You have a responsibility to inform the public. You have a responsibility to educate your parents in you district of the absolute crisis we are in, rather than trying to sell a CC package. CC is paying millions to PR firms to sell CC. They don’t need you. WE need you. We need you to be upstanders. We need you to be loud. We need you to protect our children. The next time you speak to parents or the community, PLEASE…..give them the whole picture. Educate them on what is really happening. Tell them what you talk about amongst yourselves behind closed doors. Be truthful. Be brave. Stand up.

Superintendents in the Lower Hudson Valley area spoke critically of the state evaluation system for teachers and principals, called the Annual Professional Performance Review, in a meeting with the editorial board of the Journal-News. .

The evaluation system does not accurately identify teachers as effective or ineffective, and the State Education Department has been unwilling to listen to professionals in the field. The implementation has been as flawed as the implementation of Common Core. Both are tied to testing, and both derive from Race to the Top. The state received $700 million in Race to the Top funding but is likely to spend multiples of that amount to carry out its mandates. Since no part of Race to the Top was based on research, it is unlikely to produce good results. What it has produced is disruption, demoralization, outrage, and a vibrant anti-testing and anti-Common Core movement, led by parents.

Randi Weingarten just posted this statement.

The difficult choices New Yorkers face at the polls

As I head back home to vote on Nov. 4, I’ll be casting my vote for the candidates endorsed by NYSUT, my statewide union, starting with Eric Schneiderman for attorney general, Thomas DiNapoli for comptroller, Tim Bishop for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a strong pro-public education, pro-worker majority in the state Senate and Assembly. And I’ll be voting on the Working Families Party line. If I lived in another state, I’d be starting with the governor—but not in New York.

It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening in New York, especially after campaigning across the country for gubernatorial candidates who unequivocally support public education, respect teachers and will fight for the investment our schools need.

But in New York, the decision is painful. I am deeply disappointed and appalled by Gov. Cuomo’s recent statement that public education is a “monopoly” that needs to be busted up. (Frankly, it’s only hedge fund millionaires, right-wing privatizers and tea partiers who would use that terminology.) Public education is a public good and an anchor of democracy that is enshrined in our state constitution. Public education needs to be nurtured and reclaimed.

At the same time, the other major candidate, Rob Astorino, would be no day at the beach for New York’s students, educators and working families. His letter was a needed salve to teachers, but his embrace of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s politics of destruction, public education funding cuts and attacks on workers’ voices is not a model for New York.

Whichever candidate is elected governor on Nov. 4 needs to know that I (and so many others) will hold his feet to the fire to strengthen public education. Our public schools and our students are a sacred responsibility, and our educators are national treasures. It’s well past time to fund our schools, care for our children, support our teachers, and stand up for workers and working families everywhere in our state.

Randi Weingarten

- See more at: http://www.aft.org/difficult-choices-new-yorkers-face-polls#sthash.XfQPasN8.dpuf

This article, written by a staff member of the Albany Times-Union, is a devastating critique of Andrew Cuomo.

The bottom line: He is the governor who serves the rich and powerful, not the people of Néw York. Four years ago, we had high hopes.

“Now, four years later on the cusp of the next election, upstate New York can’t wait to see him go. It turns out that our hero, our champion, is a fraud.

“He has misled us again and again on a host of issues, and disappointed us at nearly every turn.

“Corruption remains rampant. If you define corruption as the outsized influence of money in setting state policy, or at least giving that appearance, then the governor himself has become the embodiment of pay-to-play. He is the champion of Wall Street, a hero to downstate real estate magnates and billionaire hedge fund managers. Despite fervent promises, public financing of elections bit the dust. Why is no mystery. No one in state politics has benefited more in terms of campaign contributions from the wealthy — of maintaining the status quo — than Andrew Cuomo. That didn’t happen by accident….”

And he adds:

“The price for efficiency has been the ruthless co-opting of government in New York by one man, a closed loop. The Legislature is superfluous except for rubber stamping, and so is the electorate, for that matter. Cuomo is content — no, he demands — to make all the decisions for us, and will tell us what’s good for us, see that it’s passed, and no discussion, thank you. In the process, he has pitted blocks of New Yorkers against each other, and as a continual strategy has vilified those he wants to trample for whatever reason. Even when there are good reasons for tough love, such as the need to reduce the state workforce due to the Great Recession, his derisive strategy is awful. Treating those about to lose their jobs disrespectfully is reprehensible governance…..

“So the big question hanging out there now is why, days before the election, he declares war on public education and teachers, again. You would be hard pressed to find a historical precedent for a gubernatorial candidate, even a cocky one, antagonizing a large block of voters days before ballots are cast.

“Yet, this has all the earmarks of a calculated ploy on his part. My guess is that he is less concerned with how his comment equating public education with a public monopoly would play with educators, school boards and teachers unions — they weren’t going to vote for him anyway — than how pleased the hedge fund billionaires and Wall Streeters promoting the privatization of public education and charter schools would be to hear it.

“He has the election in the bag anyway, so why waste a good opportunity to shake the money tree? Pure Cuomo.”

FYI: this scathing article was tweeted by Randi Weingarten.

See why I’m voting for Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones in the Green Party line? Cuomo does not deserve re-election.

Leonie Haimson, CEO of Class Size Matters (and a dear friend), is voting YES on Proposition 3 in New York, the “Smart Schools Bond Act.”

 

I am voting no. I expect that the bulk of the money will be used to buy the devices and technology needed for Common Core testing. Leonie and I agree that bond money should not be used to buy devices that have a useful life of 3-4 years.

 

Leonie says that districts will be able to decide how they want to use the money. She believes New York City will use most of the money to build new schools and replace “temporary” trailers.

 

New York City schools, she points out, are badly overcrowded, and this new money would provide an opportunity to increase capacity and reduce class sizes.

 

She writes:

 

Each school district can use the revenue in the following ways:

 

· Purchasing educational technology equipment and facilities, such as interactive whiteboards, computer servers, desktop and laptop computers, tablets and high-speed broadband or wireless internet.
· Constructing and modernizing facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs and replacing classroom trailers with permanent instructional space.
· Installing high-tech security features in school buildings.

 

While I and many other education advocates including Diane Ravitch are fervently opposed to using any bond revenue for the purchase of devices like laptops or tablets that have a useful lifetime of only a few years, as the interest on the bond act is repaid over twenty or thirty years, it is clear that districts will have the choice of how to use these funds and have a broad array of options.

 

New York City is due to receive about $780 million if Proposition 3 is approved. The Department of Education’s five year capital plan makes it clear that if the bond act passes, $490 million of city funds previously directed toward technology would now be diverted toward building more schools to alleviate overcrowding for smaller classes, creating 4,900 more seats, and the rest toward creating 2,100 seats for pre-kindergarten.

 

As the analysis in our report Space Crunch makes clear, the city’s school capital plan is badly underfunded as is. Though it will includes less than 40,000 additional seats if the Bond Act is approved – and even fewer if it isn’t – the real need is at least 100,000 seats, given existing overcrowding and projections of increased enrollment over the next five to ten years.

 

So, voters in New York. You can vote “yes,” as Leonie Haimson advises, if you believe that the money will be spent to add new classrooms and reduce class size. Or you can vote no, as I will, if you believe the money will end up paying for iPads, tablets, and other technology that will be obsolete long before the bonds are paid off. If the measure passes, I hope that Leonie is right.

A Message to Néw Yorkers

NYC Kids PAC is a parent group formed to advocate for children’s issues.

Vote for Public Education on Election Day!

NYC Kids PAC enthusiastically endorses Howie Hawkins for Governor and Brian Jones as Lieutenant Governor on the Green Party Line.

Why?

Howie and Brian believe, as we do, that NYC kids deserve a quality education, including smaller classes and plenty of art, music and science. They believe our kids should not be over-tested nor be subjected to a rigid and flawed curriculum, tied to standards developed by people who have never taught. They believe that rather than turn our schools over to private corporations run by hedge-funders, our elected officials need to support and strengthen our public schools, the bedrock of our democracy.

In contrast, Governor Cuomo has failed our children, in almost every way. He slashed state aid for education, despite a court decision that found that our public schools underfunded. He pushed for more high-stakes testing, and for a teacher evaluation system based on test scores that will drive good teachers out of the profession. He has imposed a new requirement that any new charter school get space on demand, at city expense, while thousands of public school students sit in overcrowded classrooms, on waiting lists for Kindergarten, or in trailers.

Just this week, Cuomo said he was determined to “break” our public school system, which he called “one of the only remaining public monopolies.”

What about the police and fire departments or public health? Perhaps he is so intent on privatizing our public schools because some of his biggest donors run charter schools. He also condescended to parents by saying that the only reason we protested the flawed curriculum and exams is that we were manipulated by teachers, who got us “upset last year about this entire Common Core agenda.”

It’s time for someone to stand up for our kids and to start respecting parents. Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones will do just that, and we strongly urge you to go out and vote for them on Tuesday.

Our mailing address is:
NYC Kids PAC
1275 First Avenue, Suite 225
New York, NY 10065

One of the issues on the ballot Tuesday
in New York will be a bond issue for $2 billion for technology for the schools.

 

I am all in favor of technology for the schools, but it should not be paid for by a bond issue, which will be repaid over many years, long after the technology has become obsolete. As we saw in Los Angeles, where the superintendent proposed to use construction bonds to buy iPads, this is a very bad idea.

 

The main purpose of this bond issue is to provide technology for Common Core testing. Some parents are already calling it the “PARCC bond issue,” with reference to the name of the Common Core test that will be delivered online.

 

Our schools–especially in urban districts–need more funding. They need smaller class sizes for children who are struggling. They need funding for arts teachers, social workers, and librarians. They need renovations.

 

If the Legislature wants to buy new technology–and they should–they should pay for it, not float a bond issue.

 

Bond issues should be used for construction and renovation, for costs that will last over many years, even decades, not for technology, which is fast-changing and must be replaced and serviced.

Only days before the election, enjoying a comfortable lead in the polls, Néw York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo unleashed a tirade against teachers and the very concept of public education. He vowed to make test-based evaluations tougher, so more teachers would be found ineffective and fired. And he denounced public education as a monopoly that he is determined to break.

Daniel S. Katz of Seton Hall University reviews Cuomo’s remarks and finds that he is dangerously misinformed. He is a threat to the future of public education in Néw York state. He is clearly unaware of the failure of test-based teacher evaluation. He has obviously never read the research that shows how this method produces incoherent results and is no better than a roll of the dice.

But even more disturbing is his hostility to public education, which is one of the bedrock responsibilities of society. He sounds like a right-wing ideologue in a voucher organization.

It is sad that this angry man, who views teachers and public schools with contempt, has collected $40 million from his Wall Street allies and is coasting to re-election. Too bad he did not make his views clear earlier in the election cycle.

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