Archives for category: Cuomo, Andrew

Andrew Cuomo is a disgusting politician. His campaign distributed flyers calling his underfunded opponent Cynthia Nixon an ant-Semite. This is absurd on many levels, since Nixon and her wife are raising their children as Jews.

Cuomo is currying favor with the Orthodox Jews, who are a powerful voting bloc. He already made a deal with them not to investigate the abysmal policies of yeshivas that don’t teach in English and don’t teach science or other modern subjects. Torah study is just fine, but it is not a preparation for 21st century life.

The New York Times has already endorsed Cuomo’s re-election, based on his experience. Strangely, on the day after it endorsed him, it published an editorial about the sewer of corruption in Albany, swirling around the ethically challenged Governor Cuomo, whose top aides have been convicted of taking large bribes.

Years ago, when Andrew’s father Mario ran for Mayor against Ed Koch in New York City, mysterious posters appeared in the conservative neighborhoods of Queens, reading “Vote for Cuomo, not the Homo,” a slur against Koch’s unacknowledged sexuality. No one accepted responsibility but at the time it was assumed that it was the work of son Andrew.

Now Cynthia Nixon has laughingly turned that nasty slogan around and said, “Vote for the Homo, not the Cuomo.”

The latest campaign finance reports show Cuomo with $35 million, mostly from hedge funders, Wall Street, and big corporate names. Nixon has $2 million in individual contributions.

Here is today’s New York Times editorial about Cuomo’s latest smear, for which he of course takes no responsibility:

This is dirty politics, nearly as sleazy as it gets.

Days before Mr. Cuomo’s primary race for re-election on Thursday, the New York State Democratic Committee has sent voters a campaign mailer falsely accusing his challenger, Cynthia Nixon, of being “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.”

It says she supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. She does not. It accuses Ms. Nixon of opposing funding yeshivas, private religious schools attended by many of the city’s Orthodox Jews. She has never said that.

“With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can’t take a chance,” the mailer reads. “Re-Elect Governor Andrew Cuomo.”

This is the lowest form of politics, and the most dangerous, exploiting the festering wounds and fears along ethnic and religious lines.

“I didn’t know about the mailer,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday in Manhattan. “I haven’t seen the mailer.”

Sorry, Mr. Cuomo, but that strains credulity.

Mr. Cuomo dominates the state Democratic Party. It acts ethically or abominably at his direction, or at the very least, with his campaign’s blessing.

The committee no doubt sent this garbage in the cynical hope that it would prove effective with Orthodox Jews, who generally vote as a bloc, making them a sought-after constituency for New York politicians.

Geoff Berman, executive director of the state Democrats, said Saturday on Twitter that the mailer was “a mistake and is inappropriate and is not the tone the Democratic Party should set,” saying it wouldn’t happen again. Sunday, he went further, saying the party would “work with the Nixon campaign to send out a mailing of their choosing to the same universe of people.”

Even if that were possible so late in the campaign, it’s not enough.

Mr. Cuomo has an obligation to personally apologize and condemn these outrageous attacks. Voters deserve to hear Mr. Cuomo describe Ms. Nixon as a worthy opponent who abhors anti-Semitism. He should make sure that message gets to Orthodox voters ahead of Thursday’s elections. And he should fire the party official who came up with the idea for the flier.

While Mr. Cuomo is at it, he might also mention that Ms. Nixon attends a Manhattan synagogue. Saturday night, her rabbi, Sharon Kleinbaum, issued a joint statement with her wife, the teachers’ union leader Randi Weingarten, on Facebook, calling the charges in the mailer a “baseless lie.” Other Democrats have also condemned Mr. Cuomo and the Democratic Party for the flier.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat who hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the primary, said in a statement released by the Nixon campaign on Sunday: “I am doubly offended and aghast that my party organization would produce and mail such a false, damaging attack on Ms. Nixon and then watch the Governor and key staff act surprised they had done this. Shameful.”

Given all the ethical lapses in Mr. Cuomo’s administration, of which he has also pleaded ignorance, this smear is appalling. It is the kind of cynical behavior that detracts from Mr. Cuomo’s often-impressive ability to govern. If he is not careful, it could make voters feel they have no choice but to vote for someone else.

Mr. Cuomo deserves a third term because of his potential to lead. He should stop squandering that potential now. To be sure of it, New York Democrats need to turn out in large numbers on Thursday to support every reform-driven candidate possible — for the Legislature, for attorney general, even for party committees. They can teach Albany a lesson it won’t soon forget.

What matters more? Experience or character? Cuomo has none of the latter and deserves to go down to defeat.

Harold Meyerson, editor of The American Prospect, sent out this commentary on New York’s gubernatorial race. Control of New York’s State Senate hangs in the balance in this election, as well as several seats in Congress. By putting his name on the Independence Party line. Cuomo aids former members of the so-called IDC (the independent Democratic Conference), legislators who were elected as Democrats but caucus with and vote with the Republicans. The members of the IDC collect huge donations from hedge fund managers and charter school advocates, including Daniel Loeb, who until recently was chair of the board of Eva’s Success Academy.

Campaign cash is rolling in for the turncoat Democrats, who vote with the Republicans and support charters. Look at this eye-popping graph. The average contribution to former IDC members was $1,093. The average contribution to their challenger was $80.

Meyerson on TAP

Andrew’s Ego, Amok Again. In recent weeks, the three published polls of New York voters have shown that Governor Andrew Cuomo leads his primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, by at least 30 percentage points, and his may-as-well-be-nameless Republican opponent in the November runoff, once he dispatches Nixon, by a similar margin. In other words, Cuomo doesn’t need to boost his totals by a few thousand votes more through a maneuver that might just cost the Democrats one or more of the state’s closely fought U.S. House or state Senate seats. Why would he do something as cynical as that?

Because he’s Andrew Cuomo, that’s why.

Yesterday, The New York Times reported that Cuomo has agreed to appear not just on the Democrats’ ballot line in November (assuming he beats Nixon in the party’s September primary), but also on the ballot line of something called the Independence Party. New York, you may recall, allows for fusion voting, in which a candidate can appear on the November ballot as the nominee of more than one party, provided, of course, that the party and the candidate agree to that. The candidate’s final vote total tallies his or her votes on every party line where his or her name appears.

Since the American Labor Party first began co-endorsing the Democrats it liked in the mid-1930s, New York’s many and varied third (and fourth) parties have each had a distinct ideology. In the past couple decades, the state has seen the social democratic Working Families Party run lefties on its line, most of whom are also Democratic nominees, while the Conservative Party has done the same with right-wingers, most of whom are also Republican nominees.

What the Independence Party is independent of, by contrast, is a coherent ideology. Its candidates in past elections have included conservative Republicans and such certain-to-win-anyway Democrats as the state’s U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. At least some of the party’s finances have been known to come from politicians who’ve mysteriously ended up as the party’s designated candidates.

Whatever the motivations of Democrats who’ve also been on the Independence line in elections past, November’s upcoming election is unlike any other New York election in recent decades. Half a dozen U.S. House seats and a like number of state Senate seats are up for grabs, which is to say that Democrats’ prospects for taking the House and winning New York’s Senate (where Republicans have clung to a very narrow majority, thanks to gerrymandering and assorted other mischief, for many years) very much depend on the outcome of a number of closely fought New York races. And though the Independence Party has placed Cuomo atop its slate, it has also decided to endorse the Republicans in almost every one of those House and state Senate contests.

In the opinion of New York electionologists, the fact that Cuomo will head the Independence ticket will likely mean that the party’s down-ticket nominees will win anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand votes more than they otherwise would. In most years, this wouldn’t make that much difference. This year, with so much at stake, it could make a world of difference—most importantly, on the question of whether the Democrats will capture the House and at last be able to thwart some of the policies, impulses, and outright crimes (if crimes they be) of President Trump.

And yet, in full knowledge of that possibility, and for no apparent reason save the demands of his vote-getting ego, Cuomo has consented to head the Independence ticket. If Republicans still control the Congress next January, and still are in position to doom progressive initiatives in Albany through their control of the Senate, Cuomo will have some ‘splainin to do. Indeed, he has some ‘splainin to do right now. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

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Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon released her education plan, which would add funding to reduce class sizes and fully fund schools. Her slogan: “Schools, Not Jails.”

Cuomo spokespeople blasted her for being a front for “parent advocacy groups,”as if that were a bad thing. It’s not.

Cuomo’s education policies are controlled by hedge fund managers, billionaires, and Wall Street advocacy groups. That is a very bad thing.


Governor Andrew Cuomo has never been a friend to public schools or to public school teachers.

He pushed for the harsh and ineffectual test-based teacher evaluations that everyone now acknowledges have failed.

He was the primary driver of state legislation benefitting non-union charter schools. 

Why? Because his biggest campaign funders are hedge fund managers who believe in privatization and want to destroy teachers’ unions.

Now, Cuomo is counting on support from unions and public school teachers in his bid for a third term.

They should ask themselves whether he deserves their support.

This article was written in 2014:

It was a frigid February day in Albany, and leaders of New York City’s charter school movement were anxious. They had gone to the capital to court lawmakers, but despite a boisterous showing by parents, there seemed to be little clarity about the future of their schools.

Then, as they were preparing to head home, an intermediary called with a message: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wanted to meet.

To their surprise, Mr. Cuomo offered them 45 minutes of his time, in a private conference room. He told them he shared their concern about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambivalence toward charter schools and offered to help, according to a person who attended but did not want to be identified as having compromised the privacy of the meeting.

In the days that followed, the governor’s interest seemed to intensify. He instructed charter advocates to organize a large rally in Albany, the person said. The advocates delivered, bringing thousands of parents and students, many of them black, Hispanic, and from low-income communities, to the capital in early March, and eclipsing a pivotal rally for Mr. de Blasio taking place at virtually the same time.

Mr. Cuomo’s office declined on Wednesday to comment on his role.

As the governor worked to solidify support in Albany, his efforts were amplified by an aggressive public relations and lobbying effort financed by a group of charter school backers from the worlds of hedge funds and Wall Street, some of whom have also poured substantial sums into Mr. Cuomo’s campaign (he is up for re-election this fall). The push included a campaign-style advertising blitz that cost more than $5 million and attacked Mr. de Blasio for denying space to three charter schools.

Charter school leaders had built a formidable political operation over the course of a decade, hiring top-flight lobbyists and consultants. They had an ally in former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, but Mr. de Blasio promised a sea change, saying that he would charge rent to charter schools that had large financial backing, and that he would temporarily forbid new schools from using public space.

In public, the mayor largely ignored the outcry. At his prekindergarten rally, before a smaller crowd at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany, Mr. de Blasio spoke about the value of early education. Not far away, a much larger crowd of charter school supporters was gathered on the steps of the State Capitol. In an act that his aides later said was spontaneous, Mr. Cuomo joined the mass of parents and students.

“You are not alone,” he told the roaring crowd. “We will save charter schools.”

The move to protect charter schools had begun months before, when it became clear that Mr. de Blasio was favored to win the mayoral race. Charter school leaders were in a panic; a memo circulated over the summer by one pro-charter group, Democrats for Education Reform, had identified Mr. de Blasio as the candidate least friendly to their cause.

Charter schools — privately run, but with taxpayers paying the tuition — have become popular nationwide among Democratic and Republican leaders, as well as with tens of thousands of low-income parents who submit to kindergarten lotteries every year. They are also popular among Wall Street leaders who see charter schools, which often do not have unions to bargain with and have relative freedom from regulation, as a successful alternative to traditional public schools. But many Democrats, including the mayor, have sought to slow their spread, contending that they are taking dollars and space from other public schools. Pro-charter advocacy groups, including Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirstNY and the New York City Charter School Center, met regularly to plot strategy. Increasingly, they turned to state officials.

A lot was riding on the debate for Mr. Cuomo. A number of his largest financial backers, some of the biggest names on Wall Street, also happened to be staunch supporters of charter schools. According to campaign finance records, Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school supporters, including William A. Ackman, Carl C. Icahn, Bruce Kovner and Daniel Nir.

Kenneth G. Langone, a founder of Home Depot who sits on a prominent charter school board, gave $50,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign last year. He said that when the governor asked him to lead a group of Republicans supporting his re-election, he agreed because of Mr. Cuomo’s support for charter schools.

“Every time I am with the governor, I talk to him about charter schools,” Mr. Langone said in an interview. “He gets it.”

It was not until late February, shortly before the rally on the steps of the Capitol, that a full-fledged battle broke out.

Mr. de Blasio, reviewing plans for school space, had decided to deny it to three schools run by Success Academy Charter Schools, a high-performing network founded by Eva S. Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman. While he allowed the vast majority of charter schools to continue using public space, many supporters of Ms. Moskowitz’s schools were outraged.

Daniel S. Loeb, the founder of the hedge fund Third Point and the chairman of Success Academy’s board, began leaning on Wall Street executives for donations. Later this month, he will host a fund-raiser for Success Academy at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan; tickets run as high as $100,000 a table.

The governor and his staff worked with Republicans in the State Senate and others to come up with a package of protections for charter schools in the city. He was already said to be displeased with Mr. de Blasio for rejecting his compromise offer on prekindergarten funding.

Mr. Cuomo did not mention charter schools in his State of the State address, but now, with Mr. de Blasio under assault and charter advocates behind him, he pushed for a sweeping deal.

The proposed legislation included provisions to reverse Mr. de Blasio’s decisions on school space, and it required the city to provide public classrooms to new and expanding charter schools or contribute to the cost of renting private buildings. It also suggested increasing per-pupil funding for charter schools and allowing them to operate prekindergarten programs.

This is as terrific article about the huge impact made by corporate education reformers in New York State, aided and abetted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is trying to position himself as a progressive for the 2020 Presidential campaign.

It begins like this:

Imagine you are in grade school, taking a test, one that could determine whether your teacher keeps her job, the amount of funding your school receives or even if it will remain open. You’ve been preparing for this test for months and now there is a multiple-choice question on a computer screen in front of you, but every option — A, B, C — reads “system error.”

This actually happened on April 11 to students sitting for the New York State English exam. Other students in the 263 districts taking part in the digital-testing pilot program weren’t able to log in or their work was lost when the software crashed. The glitch was ultimately ironed out, but the “system error” message spoke volumes to critics of the state’s increased emphasis on standardized tests.

In the past two school years, approximately 20 percent of New York parents have refused to force their children to take the statewide exams in what’s become known as the opt-out movement. They say the tests are developmentally inappropriate, while teachers complain of being forced to devote excessive amounts of time preparing students for them.

Gov. Cuomo has pushed corporate friendly school policies whose impact has been far-reaching.

“As teachers, we’re trained to look at the entire child, but as soon as we enter the institution of the Department of Education, we’re suddenly compliance managers,” says Jia Lee. An opt-out parent and a teachers union activist, Lee has worked as a special education instructor at various New York City public schools for 17 years. She is running for lieutenant governor as a Green Party candidate. “The pressure is on the teacher and the administrators to make sure test scores are high,” she says.

Parents and educators alike have also raised concerns about students’ privacy. The test scores are part of the data used to track student performance over the course of their education. Personal information such as Social Security numbers are often batched in with academic information provided to third-party vendors contracted by the state Department of Education (DOE).

In January, Questar, which received a five-year, $44 million contract in 2015 to administer state exams for third through eighth graders, announced that a data breach had compromised the confidential information of 52 students at five schools in Great Neck, Menands, Oceanside, Queens and Buffalo. That’s only a minute fraction of the more than 2.6 million students enrolled in New York’s school system, but nonetheless the breach — which included student names, teachers, grades and identification numbers — highlighted the risks of collecting massive troves of student data and placing it in the hands of third parties.

Yet the tests and the data-driven assessments of both teachers and students that have accompanied them are just one facet of the education overhaul the state is undergoing at the direction of Gov. Andrew Cuomo — part of a national trend of education “reforms” pushed forward by Wall Street, technology companies and billionaires like the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune.

Gov. Cuomo, the most powerful politician in New York for the past seven and a half years, is seeking a third term but is facing a primary challenge from the left by Cynthia Nixon, a longtime education activist who has name recognition thanks to her role on the popular television program Sex and the City.

The governor, who hopes that winning a third term will vault him into consideration as a viable presidential candidate in 2020, touts himself as a “progressive” Democrat while raising vast sums of money from the 1 percent. Cuomo has increased the minimum wage and pushed same-sex marriage through the legislature, but he has a much spottier record on several other major issues. New York City’s subway system has fallen apart on his watch. He has done almost nothing to shore up state laws that protect the roughly 2 million city residents who live in rent-stabilized apartments, has chronically underfunded city and state university systems, and has pushed forward a series of corporate-friendly school policies whose impact on millions of New York school children, families and teachers has been far-reaching — if more opaque and obscure than a daily commute from hell on a broken subway system.

Often derided as the “school deform movement” by its detractors, the corporate push for education reform has led to the closure of hundreds of public schools, the proliferation of privately-operated, publicly-funded charter schools and attacks on teachers’ unions, one of the last bastions of organized labor. Norm Scott, a longtime public school teacher who now runs the Ed Notes Online blog, describes the surfeit of corporate think tanks, political action committees, charter school chains and data analysis firms that have sprung up under the “reform” umbrella in recent years as the “Education Industrial Complex.”

“It’s not going away any time soon,” says Scott. “There’s too much money in it.”

Both Republicans and many Democrats have promoted these policies, through their preferred ideological lenses. For the GOP, it’s about school choice, “innovation” and often breaking the “obstructionism” of teachers’ unions. Meanwhile, Democrats like Cuomo have couched their calls for stiffer teacher evaluations tied to standardized tests and for replacing public schools with charters in the language of progressivism, arguing their agenda will grant every student an equal opportunity to succeed.

When Students Are Cattle, Teachers Are Ranchers

Gov. Cuomo has championed a series of policies that, taken together, form a kind of feedback loop (See sidebar) threatening the foundation of public education in the state. Test scores are used to fire teachers and to label schools failures and close them down. In turn, those schools are replaced by nonunion charters, thereby weakening the membership base of the New York State United Teachers, the statewide teachers union, and its New York City local, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

“I’ll never forgive Gov. Cuomo,” says Carol Burris, a former principal of the year at South Side High School in Rockville Centre on Long Island, now executive director of the Network for Public Education Foundation. She describes the climate in which the “reform” movement first began to pick up steam. The Obama administration’s 2009 “Race to the Top” initiative gave states an incentive to focus on test scores as a way of securing federal grants at a time when the housing crisis had left schools strapped for revenue.

“Cuomo, he just took advantage of it politically,” Burris explains. “All of a sudden, teachers and principals were seen as villains. We were not doing our job. We had to perform. And if only we were better, poverty would disappear because all of the kids at school, no matter how difficult their circumstances, they would go off to college and poverty would disappear….”

For proponents of education reform in both major political parties, the financial rewards have been handsome. Corporate reformers have big money to throw around, which they have used to insert themselves in policy debates, often drowning out the voices of parents and teachers. In a recent special election in Westchester County to fill a vacant state Senate seat, a political action committee linked to the charter advocacy group StudentsFirstNY poured $800,000 into ads opposing Democratic candidate Shelley Mayer. The bulk of StudentsFirstNY’s funding comes from members of the Walton family. On April 13, 11 days before the special election, Arkansas-natives Alice and Jim Walton wired a half a million dollars each to StudentsFirstNY’s PAC, a review of campaign finance filings shows. Mayer ultimately won despite that torrent of cash.

‘You can’t say you believe in public schools when you aren’t funding them equitably.’
The misleadingly named Great Public Schools PAC run by Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, has donated $303,500 to politicians of all stripes in New York, including $105,000 to Gov. Cuomo since 2011. Moskowitz, a former City Councilmember from the Upper East Side, makes $600,000 a year as CEO. Billionaire asset manager Daniel Loeb, who served as Success Academy’s chair until he announced on May 1 that he was stepping down, contributed $400,000 to Cuomo and PACs that support him — that’s excluding the $300,000 he’s poured into Moskowitz’s Great Public Schools.

Success Academy gave no reason for Loeb’s resignation, though it appears unrelated to remarks he made on Facebook last August. In them, he praised state Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference that allied with the Republicans to give them control of the Senate, for standing up for “poor knack [sic] kids.” After his glowing endorsement of Klein, who is white, Loeb went on compare charter school opponents to the Ku Klux Klan, specifically citing the Senate’s African-American Democratic leader: “hypocrites like [Andrea] Stewart-Cousins who pay fealty to powerful union thugs and bosses do more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” He will be succeeded by another Wall Street kingpin, Steven Galbraith of Kindred Capital.

Jake Jacobs, an art teacher in New York, commends Cynthia Nixon for calling for the repeal of New York State’s teacher evaluation law, which was imposed to comply with Race to the Top. After Nixon spoke out, the State Assembly cobbled together a pretend repeal of the law, which does not actually change anything since districts will still be required to use a test, but only a test approved by the state commissioner. Critics of the bill fear it will double the amount of testing by adding local tests to state tests.

At lest, Nixon had the courage to call for a flat out repeal of a useless and ineffective method of evaluating teachers.

Consider how Jake Jacobs is evaluated.

“Where I teach, we have two days of federally mandated math tests, two days of English Language Arts tests, and two days of Science tests for 8th graders. Then, because of the Annual Professional Performance Review policy, we have state requirements for two more math tests, two more English Language Arts tests, two more Science tests, two Social Studies tests, plus two language tests for English learners (even though they also take the English Language Arts tests). Some schools are required to do mandated “field testing” in June as well.

“From the start, Cuomo’s performance review policy was gamed from every direction.

“As an art teacher, I was stunned at the absurdity of the Annual Professional Performance Review “group measures,” which since 2013 made me choose math or English Language Arts scores for my evaluation. In 2015, I reported on the “ineffective” rating attributed to me because of low math scores, even though I don’t teach math, and I was teaching in an alternative school that only enrolled high need students, and I never even met some of the children whose test scores were used. Last year the city even debuted standardized Art tests for eighth grade—but hardly any schools participated.

“In 2015, Sheri Lederman, a fourth-grade teacher and accomplished professional at the top of her game, challenged her rating in a New York State Supreme Court, which later determined that the process for her evaluation was “arbitrary and capricious.”

“If the point of Annual Professional Performance Review was to create a horrible, wasteful evaluation policy and then make teachers bargain for relief, it worked well.

“Cuomo boasted in 2014 that his teacher evaluation system would be his single most enduring legacy.”

This is the height of absurdity!

Recently, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon issued a press release calling for the repeal of the state teacher evaluation system, which links teacher evaluation to state test scores of their students.

Almost immediately, the State Assembly (in Democratic control) announced that it was writing a bill to revise test-based teacher evaluation. The Assembly bill passed overwhelmingly, but it was a sham. Instead of repealing test-based teacher evaluation, it said that districts could use the test of their own choosing to evaluate teachers, so long as the test was approved by the State Commissioner. That does not repeal test-based evaluation, and critics warned that there might be “double-testing,” once for the state tests, another time for local tests.

Now that the bill has moved to the State Senate, the Republican leader John Flanagan has said he will slow down movement on the bill because no one wants “double testing.”

In the one instance where the state’s teacher evaluation system was brought to a court, by lawyer Bruce Lederman on behalf of his superstar wife, Sheri, a fourth grade teacher on Long Island, the judge said that the system was “arbitrary” and “capricious” and threw out her rating.

When the system was first adopted, Governor Cuomo wanted 50% of a teacher’s rating to be based on student scores. In 2013-2014, when the first results of the rating system were reported, 97% of the state’s teachers were rated either “effective” or “highly effective.” In New York City, in the first year, 93% were rated in the two highest categories. By 2016-2017, 97% of New York City’s teachers were also rated either “effective” or “highly effective.”

Chalkbeat reviewed the controversy over the state teacher evaluation system and wrote:

The battle lines were redrawn again in 2015, when state lawmakers — led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — sought to make it tougher for teachers to earn high ratings. The new system allowed for as much as half of a teacher’s rating to be based on test scores.

But that plan was never fully implemented. Following a wave of protests in which one in five New York families boycotted the state tests, officials backed away from several controversial education policies.

In late 2015, the state’s Board of Regents approved a four-year freeze on the most contentious aspect of the teacher evaluation law: the use of students’ scores on the grades 3-8 math and English tests. They later allowed districts to avoid having independent observers rate teachers — another unpopular provision in the original law.

In short, the Opt Out movement caused the state to call a moratorium even as Governor Cuomo and the legislature were demanding tougher evaluations.

Given the fact that the test-based evaluation system has not worked (97% of teachers are doing just fine, thank you), given the fact that a full-blown court challenge presented as a class action is likely to get the whole system declared invalid, and given the fact that there is a growing teacher shortage, given the fact that the American Statistical Association declared “value-added” evaluation” inappropriate for individual teachers, why not repeal test-based evaluation altogether?

Let school districts decide how to evaluate the teachers they hire. Let them decide whether to adopt peer review, principal observations, or some combinations thereof.

The current system is useless and pointless. It does not evaluate teachers fairly. It is expensive. It attaches high stakes to tests for teachers. It has no research to support it.

When in doubt, throw it out!


Marla Kilfoyle, teacher and executive director of the Badass Teachers Association, wrote this article.

She warns teachers not to fall for the line of bologna (baloney, not “Bali net,” thanks autocorrect!)  that they will hear from Andrew Cuomo as he seeks their votes. They will be tempted, but only if they forget that the BATs and other concerned teachers have been fighting Cuomo and his bullying tactics for the past several years.

She writes:

“As NYS teachers we will be embarking on an important choice this primary season.

“We have the opportunity to vote for a truly progressive candidate on September 13, 2018 – Cynthia Nixon.

“To learn more about Cynthia Nixon go here
Join me as an Educator for Cynthia – sign up here

“I am a NYS teacher, and I am warning my brothers and sisters in New York….

“Don’t fall for the Old Okeydoke this primary season.

“So what is the Old Okeydoke? It is when a trap is set, but a victim still walks right into it.

“Believe me teachers, Cuomo, and others, are setting a trap for you – don’t walk into it.”

Her post reviews Cuomo’s history of ridiculing and demoralizing teachers. How fast can a leopard change his spots?



This just in! Cynthia Nixon calls for repeal of test-based evaluation of teachers. This law was passed to meet the non-evidence-based demands of Race to the Top. It has been a complete failure in New York. The American Statistical Association said in 2014 that individual teachers should not be evaluated by the test scores of their students. Highly flawed and inaccurate!


For Immediate Release
April 26, 2018

Cynthia Nixon Calls for Repeal of Cuomo’s Failed APPR Teacher Evaluation System

Diane Ravitch joins other educators in launching ‘Educators for Cynthia’ to elect a bona fide public education advocate who prioritizes learning, not testing in New York schools

BUFFALO, NY — On the eve of the New York State United Teachers Representative Assembly in Buffalo, Cynthia Nixon, candidate for governor, called on Andrew Cuomo today to immediately repeal the teacher evaluation system he championed. Known as the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), Cuomo’s teacher evaluation system relies on high-stakes testing to evaluate teachers. Education historian Diane Ravitch and dozens of New York educators are rallying behind Cynthia Nixon’s demands with the launch of Educators for Cynthia. Signers include teachers, principals, school board members, superintendents, SUNY and CUNY professors, and former NYSUT statewide officers.

At the time APPR was enacted, Cuomo described it as “one of the greatest legacies for me and the state.” But it helped spur 25 percent of parents to opt out of state tests and was roundly denounced by educators and advocates. Cuomo has since tried to distance himself from the APPR, but it remains on the books, including requirements for additional standardized tests that serve no educational purposes other than to grade teachers.

“A couple years ago Andrew Cuomo described teacher evaluation based on high stakes testing as one of his greatest legacies, now he is hoping that parents and teachers have forgotten all about it,” Cynthia Nixon said. “Enough of the delays and excuses Governor Cuomo, it is time to repeal the APPR now.”

“Cynthia Nixon has a vision that will put education on the right track by refocusing New York schools on the dignity of teaching and the joy of learning,” said Diane Ravitch, education historian. “She will provide the resources our children need to succeed. Andrew Cuomo’s policies have disrespected teachers as a profession and undermined the education of our children.”

The “Educators for Cynthia” group cites additional education reform priorities Cynthia supports including: providing students a rich and balanced curriculum rather than one oriented around standardized tests; ensuring equitable school funding by fully funding Foundation Aid; and delivering fair and full funding for SUNY and CUNY to expand opportunity and improve quality.

“Our public school teachers must be treasured and lifted up for the hard work they do every day in the classroom educating our children. Instead, Andrew Cuomo has vilified and punished teachers, underfunded our neediest schools and deprived students of the educational opportunities and social and emotional supports they need, and placed SUNY and CUNY on a starvation diet which undermines the quality of higher education and decreases opportunities for students who need a leg up,” Cynthia said. “As governor I will make public education from pre-K through college a top priority, our children and our future depends on it.”

“Andrew Cuomo is the king of test and punish education reform,” said Marla Kilfoyle, a teacher in the Oceanside Schools. “He insisted that teachers had to be evaluated based upon standardized tests even though all the evidence said it was bankrupt idea. He has refused to repeal his own failed policy and Cynthia Nixon is a breath of fresh air. She has a strong record on standing up for our public schools and teachers and I am proud to support her.”

Anyone interested in joining Educators for Cynthia can do so at




From the outside, the Democratic primary for Governor in New York looks like a cakewalk: Cuomo versus an actress. Cuomo with a 40-point lead in the polls. Unions lining up to support the man who controls their funding.

But here is a curiosity: to date, not a single Democratic member of the Legislature has endorsed the Governor in his bid for a third term. The endorsements will come, no doubt, but at the moment the silence is deafening from these 133 elected officials in the State Senate and House.

Why? Cuomo has stiffed his own party, repeatedly. The leader of the Senate Democrats is an African American woman from Westchester County, and she has been left out in the cold by Cuomo’s tacit alliance with Senate Republicans and the eight Democrats (the so-called IDC) who caucus with the Republicans to keep them in power.

”The Legislature is tired of Cuomo’s business as usual. First, lawmakers are no doubt angered by Cuomo’s repeated exclusion of the chosen leader of the Senate Democrats, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, from budget negotiations and policy pushes. Never has this been more glaring than this year, when he publicly promised to seek her feedback on sexual harassment laws, and then reneged — but kept Senator Jeffrey Klein in these negotiations despite the accusations of sexual assault recently leveled against him. In a year where the #MeToo movement has flexed its considerable political power, Cuomo underestimated the impact of excluding women from negotiations (resulting in a sexual harassment package, and budget, that is not even close to as strong as it could have been).

“Second, Cuomo has mismanaged his preferred mechanism for excluding Senator Stewart-Cousins from the leadership, otherwise known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). Albany’s worst-kept secret is that this rogue group of senators, Democrats who have empowered Senate Republicans to run the State Senate since 2011, has been supported by Cuomo. Seven years ago, Cuomo could get away with this. Now, in the age of Trump, enabling Republicans is untenable.

“It took Cuomo too long to realize his support of the IDC hurts him at the polls, as it has with fellow Democratic elected officials. In fact, in a miscalculation of epic proportions, he kept the IDC on during budget negotiations. He could have had a trifecta of Democrats (himself, Carl Heastie and Sen. Stewart-Cousins) build the budget, achieved if he had called special elections earlier in the year. Instead, he waited, calling them for April 24 so he could keep Sens. Jeff Klein and John Flanagan in budget negotiations with him instead. As a result, the budget left out major planks of the Democrats’ progressive platform, like early voting, the Child Victims Act, criminal justice reforms, and more. New Yorkers noticed. In particular, many Westchester voters (those suburban voters that Cuomo so eagerly courts) noticed because they went unrepresented in budget negotiations, and their empty Senate seat could have tipped the balance of the upper chamber to the Democrats.”

Now begins the frantic lobbying to corral the endorsements. They will come, in time, slowly. With pressure, threats and promises. But not with enthusiasm.