Archives for category: New York

Marla Kilfoyle is a teacher on Long Island and executive director of the BATS.

In this post, she describes the well-funded effort to privatize public education in New York State.

We have lived with it for so many years that it seems to be just one more issue, although it is an issue that the mainstream media completely ignores. It is the “Sound of Silence,” as she says.

She writes:

“Election season is always a difficult time for many educators and education activist. We begin to look at all the campaign donations that fly to politicians from people, and organizations, that seek to destroy public education. It is the same old players emerging here in N.Y.

“The Waltons, The Koch Brothers, StudentsFirstNY funded by Wall Street Hedge Funders like Paul Singer, Dan Loeb, and John Paul Tudor.

“The NYS Senate Republican Committee are HUGE cheerleaders for the charter movement and have received millions for this election cycle from the folks listed above. For the sake of transparency, our Governor, and a smattering of Democrats, are also cheerleaders for charter expansion and the privatization movement.

“I will have to say that NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, is a bigger cheerleader for privatization than John Flanagan, the Republican majority leader in our Senate. He is also a member of ALEC

“The ALEC education agenda is model legislation that travels around the nation when they need to defund schools, close them, and open up unaccountable charters. They support ending public education for a competitive model of education. The problem with a competitive model is that there are always winners and losers. We should have NO losers when it comes to education in this country….

“Republican Carl Marcellino, who is running against Democrat Jim Gaughran, got not one but two, yes two, $142,590 independent expenditure from StudentsFirstNY (A20133) for media. Republican Elaine Phillips, who is running against Democrat Adam Haber, got a $271,950 independent expenditure from StudentsFirstNY (A20133). Anyone who follows the fight to save public education KNOWS that StudentsFirst has been on the frontlines of the attack on public education and public school teachers. They have been the cheerleaders for Common Core, High-Stakes Testing, School Closures, vouchers, choice, and charter expansion. The sad thing is that Marcellino is on the NYS Education Committee. Call me crazy but shouldn’t that mean he should fight for public education NOT privatization? The larger question is – who will Marcellino and Phillips be accountable to when it comes to education policy? We all know the answer to that question. The Money!

“The PAC that is distributing all this money to StudentsFirstNY – New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany is funded by anti-public education billionaires. The other PAC, New Yorkers for Independent Action, is also supported by billionaires who are anti-public education. This money is being distributed to politicians who will support their destructive agenda for public education in NY.
Bottom line is – we must get to the polls and vote anyone out who takes this money – Republican or Democrat.

“As a public educator, education activist, and mother I will NOT be voting for anyone who takes money from StudentsFirstNY, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany or New Yorkers for Independent Action. Public education is for the public good and we should be funding that equitably, not defunding and destroying it. Public education should not be competitive where you have winners and losers. Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy and is the great equalizer.

“So, why did I title this piece the sound of silence?

“While the NYS Senate Republican Committee is raking in all this cash from anti-public education billionaires, NOT many of them have said a word about Donald Trump’s behavior. To me, silence means acceptance.

“It’s OK to malign immigrants and it’s OK to malign women….

“Oh, and by the way, the NYS Senate Republican Committee thinks it is OK to pay for and distribute anti-semitic flyers. This is a flyer that the Senate Republican Committee distributed about Adam Haber, who is Jewish and running against Republican Elaine Phillips.

“To add insult to injury this was distributed during the week of Yom Kippur.”

Open the link to see the anti-Semitic image that the New York State Republican Committee distributed about Adam Haber. This is the same committee that received millions in contributions from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Adam Haber is running for the New York State Senate on Long Island. He lives in a district with great public schools and supports them. If you live in his district, get out and help him get elected.

The State Senate is sharply divided and currently controlled by Republicans, who pass pro-charter, pro-voucher, anti-teacher legislation with frequency. The balance of power is tipped to the Republicans by a small number of “independent Democrats” who regularly caucus with the Republicans. One of those “independent Democrats” ironically is an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn who would love to get vouchers or tax credits for religious schools. Governor Cuomo has refused to help his own party gain new members of the State Senate because he is able to use the divided control of the Legislature to rein in the liberal Democrats who control the State Assembly and don’t support the governor’s pro-charter agenda. Cuomo also supports tax credits for religious schools, which wins the loyalty of certain voting blocs (Orthodox Jews and Catholics).

So it is very important for the Senate Republicans to beat back anyone who might threaten their tenuous control, especially a supporter of the public schools attended by 90% of the children in the state.

The Senate Republican Campaign Committee is flush with cash from Wall Street and the usual billionaires who want low taxes and charter schools.

His opponents do not want to take a chance on the possibility that a strong supporter of public schools might disrupt their anti-public school cabal. So what do they do to strike out at Adam Haber? On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, they release anti-Semitic ads against him.

Is this the Trump Effect, a response to his attack on “political correctness?” PC in Trump’s telling, means not making remarks about other people’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, body size, looks, etc. In this Brave New World, bigots are free to express their bigotry.

I learned about this ugly incident from a public school parent in Port Washington on Long Island.

She wrote:

“Adam Haber is a father and school board member in Roslyn, New York. He is running as the Democratic nominee for a seat in the New York State Senate for District #7. During the Yom Kippur holiday period, he was the target of an anti-semitic advertisement on Facebook and Instagram.

“Mr. Haber held a press conference to denounce this anti-semitism

“The ADL responded to the incident against Mr. Haber and also to others against NYS Attorney General Schneiderman.

“Sadly, it took Mr. Haber’s opponent three days to even respond on Facebook to residents who demanded that she denounce the ad. When she finally commented, she did nothing to address the hurt and anger felt by Mr. Haber and other residents. (Comments criticizing her conduct were deleted.) She claims she did not know about the ad yet still has done nothing publicly to insist the ad be removed or to hunt down the perpetrators. Her campaign is being funded by the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee which would not deny it sponsored the ad. She has not renounced them or returned their funds. Her most recent campaign filing shows that Ms. Phillips received $400,000 from the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee. Hence, Ms. Phillips actions speak volumes.

“I believe Mr. Haber is being targeted because he is a pro-public education candidate and the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee knows he can’t be bought out by charter school backers. The Real Estate Board of New York is also funding his opponent as well. This was reported by Nick Reisman today, “Filings made public late last week show REBNY is spending in two Long Island districts: the 5th Senate district in Nassau County on behalf of incumbent Carl Marcellino and the 7th Senate district, where Republican Elaine Phillips is defending an open seat being vacated by Jack Martins.”

“A petition has been started calling on the leadership of the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee to apologize. It was written by a young man (educated in our local public schools) who was deeply and rightfully disturbed about this incident.

“Mr. Haber is the product of public education, he serves on a public school board, he comes from a family of public school educators, he is a friend of the opt-out movement. He is committed to protecting student data privacy and providing quality public education for all children. Please help by encouraging people to sign the petition and if they live in State Senate district #7 to vote for Adam Haber. Here is a link to his campaign website

“Here is a link to a Facebook page started on behalf of Mr. Haber by Long Island Public Education Advocates You will see some familiar faces. We are behind Mr. Haber and determined to overcome the dark money and damaging forces which are backing his opponent and seek to destroy public education.”

Brendon Cunningham is the Democratic candidate for State Assembly in District 9, Suffolk County. He is running against an incumbent who is not a friend of public schools or teachers.

Brendon graduated college in 2015. He is currently Deputy Director of Communications for the Town of Babylon. He is a graduate of the Babylon public schools. Both of his parents are public school teachers.

He promises to make education his top priority if elected.

He has the youth, energy, optimism, and knowledge that is needed in Albany.

If you live in his district, I urge you to work for him and vote for him.

P.S. I have it on good authority that his father is a BAT. Another reason to elect Brendan!

Peter Rawitsch teaches first grade. He has been a teacher for 40 years. He was invited to participate in the New York State review of Common Core standards for the early grades.

He deliberated with the group and came away convinced that the standards, however written, will do more harm than good. In this article, he calls for a moratorium on standards for the youngest children.

He thinks that children need a childhood more than they need standards.

Dr. Michael Haynes, the bold and fearless leader of the Patchigue-Medford school district on Long Island in New York State, has called on his fellow superintendents to join him in fighting misguided and harmful “reforms.’

New York School Superintendents: What Side Are You On?

Michael Hynes

Patchogue-Medford School District

“The school reform debate is reaching a super crescendo. The latest wake-up call from the U.S. Department of Education highlights the fact that we are running out of time to the stop the imprudent attempts of reformers to make the case that public schools need to be fixed by them. By them… I mean both educators and businessmen and women who believe they know the answer(s).

“U.S. Secretary of Education’s John King’s latest unchildfriendly (that’s a new word) doubling down on the importance of standardized tests tells me he is unfit for this office. Secretary King is not only bad for students, he is terrible for teachers and principals as well. The man has zero business leading the nation’s public schools. To think the U.S. Department of Education will now look to hold teacher preparation programs (TPPs) accountable for how their teacher graduates perform as teachers merely based on their students’ success on standardized tests… it begs the question, when will the insanity end?

“There is no better time to finally draw a line in the sand and come together as the educational leaders of our school communities and say enough is enough. We are done with the scare tactics. We are done with the threats and we are done with the reformers holding our children and educators hostage.

“Make no mistake: this will trickle down to all 50 State Education Departments and impact our newest and brightest teachers. Sadly, it reinforces the reformers’ notion that standardized test scores are what’s most important because children and adults are merely widgets and numbers. The real numbers reformers care about is the $621 billion (with a b!) per year endeavor they stand to make.

“I challenge our school superintendents to publicly denounce this latest atrocity to our school system by Secretary King. We must stand together and declare enough is enough. Now is time to choose sides.

“Are you on the side of reformers who at every turn want to increase charter schools (at the public schools expense) and myopically over emphasize tests scores and weaken unions? Or are you on the side of public school advocates who fight for equity and opportunities for all students?

“New York Superintendents, let us collectively create a thunderclap response. The Council of School Superintendents should finally do something provocative and proactive by making a public service announcement asking King to step down. Tell our NY U.S. Senators we have a vote of no confidence for John King. That would be a first.

“Let me make this crystal clear to all school reformers out there…socio-economic status is the most relevant determinant of student success in school. The problem is you already know that.”

I just made a contribution to the #EdWalk for CFE, to honor a group of parents, students, and educators who are walking from New York City to Albany to call attention to the legislature’s failure to fund the public schools equitably, as a state court ordered long ago. Please show your support, with any amount: $5, $10, $20, whatever you can afford.

A message from Marla Kilfoyle, executive director of the BATs, about the #EdWalk for CFE.

10 years ago, parents won a landmark case by proving that the State of New York was failing to provide a basic education to our kids.

A decade later, schools across New York state have still not received the money they are owed. All schools are suffering, with Black, Latino and low-income districts facing the worst inequities.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit was filed in 1993 by New York City parents, alleging severe underfunding of public schools in communities of color and low-income communities. The state’s highest court, The Court of Appeals, rendered its final ruling ordering the state to add billions of funding to city schools.

The governor and legislature at the time provided a statewide solution, committing to infuse $5.5 billion, of classroom operating aid, also known as Foundation Aid, over the course of four years. The state provided two years of this funding, then in 2008 when the financial crisis hit, the aid not only stopped, but the legislature also did hurtful cuts to budgets. Generations of students have gone through school without realizing the full benefits of the CFE since the funding has been inadequate.

After the 2016-17 state budget did not include adequate levels of Foundation Aid, parents and advocates across the state made the decision that we needed to bring a new level of moral urgency to demand that the state stop letting generations of students graduate without realizing their full potential. We decided that it was our time.


Check out our interactive map to get more info about local events happening in your community!

State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia announced that only one school in the state had failed to meet the arbitrary benchmarks she set. It is J.H.S. 162 Lola Rodriguez De Tio.

Elia is directing NYC Chancellor Carmen Fariña to take dramatic action.

“J.H.S. 162 did not hit its targets, the State Education Department announced Wednesday afternoon. That means schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña has 60 days to appoint an outside entity, such as a school improvement expert or nonprofit, to oversee the school. The city could also decide to close or merge the school.

“Each persistently struggling school had to make at least 40 percent progress on a “demonstrable improvement index” to avoid independent receivership — and J.H.S. 162 reached 38 percent, missing some indicators by less than one point.”

So the school may be closed because it missed Elia’/ goals by less than a point.

Here’s an idea.

Elia should take control of the school, personally. Don’t give it to a charter chain or some turnaround firm. Let Elia do it. She set the goals. She should show the rest of the state what she can do. JHS 162 is on her conscience. Let her take responsibility for fixing it.

The Journey for Justice is working with other civil rights groups to bring thousands of people to demonstrate at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, where the first Presidential debate will take place on September 26. Details are below.

For Immediate Release 773-317-6343
September 15, 2016

​Thousands expected to demonstrate @ Sept. 26th presidential debate in protest of public education cuts in African American and Latino communities across the nation
“It matters to me who becomes the next U.S. Education Secretary…”

CHICAGO – A national coalition of parents, students, teachers and activists have vowed to travel to Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Monday, September 26th, and join with thousands of other people who will protest the first presidential debate due to cuts in public education and the impact on students of color. Activists, led by the Journey for Justice Alliance, have demanded Democratic nominee Sec. Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump release their respective K-thru-12 education platforms and meet with school leaders prior squaring off.

A coalition led by the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4JA) with more than 40,000 members from 24 cities across the US is galvanizing. Organizers say they will release a seven-point platform that tackles school privatization, the school-to-prison pipeline, standardized testing and a myriad of other failed education interventions that have led to massive school closings, charter proliferation and other schemes that have not improved education outcomes in urban communities.

“Our voices have been locked out of any discussion about public education during the race to the White House,” said Jitu Brown, national director J4JA. “Both Clinton and Trump have closed their ears to those of us who have protested, boycotted, waged hunger and teacher strikes demanding an end to corporate education interventions that have devastated students and schools.”

“Clinton, Trump and (Green Party candidate) Jill Stein have all been eerily silent on the impact of these bad policies and school-based cuts that have harmed African American and Latino students the most—yet they continue to campaign in our neighborhoods in search of our support,” said Brown. The award-winning activist gained national attention as the organizer and participant in a 34-day hunger strike to save Dyett High School in Chicago which forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to abandon his plans to destroy the school.

Added Natasha Capers, public school parent from the New York City Coalition for Education Justice, “We intend to gather that morning in a national forum on what’s been happening to us in our respective communities,” she said. “There is massive charter proliferation in New York despite the fact that research shows charters do not improve education outcomes. It matters to me who becomes the next U.S. Education Secretary.”

The Alliance will release a national public education platform in a forum called “Public Education Nation” co-sponsored by the Network for Public Education Action, which calls for a moratorium on school privatization; federal funding for 10,000 sustainable community schools; an end to zero tolerance policies; national equity in assessments; an end to the attack Black educators who are being terminated from urban school districts in record numbers; an end of state takeovers of trouble school districts where there is only mayoral control and appointed school boards; and, an elimination of the over reliance on standardized tests in public schools.

Parents and teachers have repeatedly lobbied law makers in their opposition to the destruction of community schools at the expense of publicly-funded, privately operated charter schools and over testing.

​“Where do the candidates stand on standardized testing and how those scores are tied to teacher evaluation,” said Nikkisha Napoleon, a public school parent in New Orleans. “Children in New Orleans have been devastated by racist education experimentation—and we’ve also seen a loss of African-American teachers in our city. Why is this happening in places like Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit? I’m angry that people who live in our neighborhoods, have a history with our children and understand our culture are being driving out of our schools. Where do the candidates stand on the loss of veteran Black and Latino teachers?”

Added, Hiram Rivera, a public school parent and director of the Philadelphia Student Union. “This is a movement for justice and equity in this country. Black and Brown people are united in fighting to make our schools matter, our lives matter and to have our voices heard. We are tired of handshakes and photo ops. We are tired of school closings, privatization schemes and the disinvestment in our neighborhoods. Clinton and Trump need to be held accountable—before they take the oath of office. I’m going to Hempstead because we have to make our voices heard.”


The Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) ( is a national network of inter-generational, grassroots community organizations led primarily by Black and Brown people in 24 U.S. cities. With more than 40,000 active members, we assert that the lack of equity is one of the major failures of the American education system. Current U.S. education policies have led to states’ policies that lead to school privatization through school closings and charter school expansion which has energized school segregation, the school-to-prison pipeline; and has subjected children to mediocre education interventions that over the past 15 years have not resulted in sustained, improved education outcomes in urban communities.

New York State just released a draft of its revision of the Common Core standards.

There are different interpretations of how much has changed. Some say more than half of the standards were tweaked. Defenders of the standards insist they were barely changed at all.

We will have to wait until teachers have seen the revisions and offered their comments.

In New York, the Common Core standards have also became part of a larger discussion about other policy reforms, such as the use of state standardized test scores in teacher evaluations. Replacing the standards is the first step in redefining what it means to get an education in New York state, which will include revising assessments, teacher evaluations and how the state rates schools.

The standards will now go out for public comment, which will be open until Nov. 4. The Board of Regents are expected to consider the standards in early 2017 and roll out new assessments based on the standards by the 2018-19 school year.

The standards were revised in response to the success of the Opt Out movement; 20% of children eligible to take the tests–about 200,000–did not take them in 2015. The number rose slightly this past year. Governor Cuomo formed a commission that recommended a thorough review of the standards and the tests.

Here are the draft standards:

and here:

The crucial question will be whether the standards are age-appropriate, especially in the early grades, where complaints have been most intense. Early reviews from teachers suggest that very little if anything has changed in the K-2 grades, where the standards are the worst.

This item appeared in for New York, but it is not posted online, so no link.

Betty Rosa, chancellor of the state Board of Regents, was elected with the help of the New York state opt out leaders.

By Keshia Clukey
09/12/2016 02:39 PM EDT

State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa Monday called for New York State to be a national leader in taking a stand against the testing of English language learners and students with disabilities who are not ready to take the exams.

“I want us to take a super leadership role in our waiver,” Rosa said at the Regents meeting. The state has continued to apply for a federal testing waiver, but the request has yet to be granted.

“Not just children with disabilities, but with the English language learners, we know before they even take a test that they cannot,” Rosa said. “They don’t have [the] language proficiency to demonstrate their success story.”

Regents board member Roger Tilles agreed and said that former state Education Commissioner John King Jr. had signed on and sent the request for the federal testing waiver during his time in New York, but now as U.S. secretary of education has the power to act and has yet to act on it.

With the low proficiency rate of English language learners on the state exams, Regents board member Luis Reyes said, it could be taken up as a civil rights violation.

“Testing children who are recently arrived is child abuse, not to say bad education law or bad education policy,” he said.