Eliza Shapiro writes about New York City for Politico.

She wrote a somewhat wistful article about why New York City was no longer “the nation’s education reform capital.”

For one brief shining moment, she suggests, New York City had the chance to expand its privately managed charter schools and to break the grip of the teachers’ union. It came “this close” to evaluating teachers by test scores. It was near to a point where it might have eliminated tenure and seniority.

All of this is supposedly reform?

Well, as she well knows, this is the agenda of hedge fund managers and others on Wall Street. This is the agenda of the billionaires who never set foot in a public school and whose children will never go to public school.

What stopped the headlong rush to crush public schools and teachers’ unions?

Parents. The New York State Allies for Public Education, a coalition of 50 parent and educator groups (not the union), that organized the mass opt outs from testing.

When twenty percent of the parents in the state with children in grades 3-8 refused to allow their children to take the tests, Governor Cuomo stopped in his tracks. He had been gung-ho to evaluate teachers by student test scores; he boldly claimed to be the state’s charter school champion (even though only 3% of the state’s children were enrolled in charter schools). But when the opt out started, he realized he had a political problem. He hired Jere Hochman, the thoughtful superintendent of the Bedford Central public schools, to advise him, and for the first time, he had an experienced educator calming his passions. He formed a commission and grew silent.

Sheri Lederman, a much-loved teacher in the Great Neck public schools, challenged her evaluation, and the judge agreed with her that it was arbitrary and capricious.

The American Statistical Association said that the test-based evaluations in which Cuomo put so much stock were inappropriate for evaluating individual teachers.

Shapiro seems unaware of most of these developments. Her framework is: charter supporters=good; unions=bad; firing teachers at will without cause=good; tenure=bad.

She insists on seeing the New York City story through the framework of “reformers vs. union.” It would have made more sense to look at the NYC story as “parents (in New York State, not New York City) vs. high-stakes testing. Research vs. Cuomo.

Now that the reform laurels are no longer in New York City, she suggests that readers look to Louisiana and D.C. instead, both of which are among the lowest performing jurisdictions in the nation.

I want to suggest to Eliza Shapiro that she read my last two books: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (rev., 2016); and Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. She should read Mercedes Schneider on John White in Louisiana and John Merrow on the subject of the D.C. “miracle” that wasn’t. (John Merrow and Mary Levy will have an article in the next issue of the Washington Monthly that takes apart the D.C. “miracle.” but in the meanwhile Shapiro can read this post that Merrow wrote: https://themerrowreport.com/2017/08/08/touching-the-elephant/comment-page-1/

If she contacts me, I will send her both books at my expense. If she reads them, she will be a better education writer. Certainly better informed.