Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Jeb Bush: Baltimore Riots Are Call For Florida-Style Education Reform In Baltimore

Following in the footsteps of ed deformer Jeanne Allen, who tweeted that the Baltimore riots were a call for more charter schools, Jeb Bush said the riots were a sign Baltimore needs more education reform:

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush on Thursday urged Americans to not lose perspective in the aftermath of the Baltimore riots, and offered his own policy prescription for simmering tensions in poor communities.


He addressed the underlying roots of anger in some dominantly black communities by pivoting to a conservative platform – welfare and education reform, mainly – that might start to change “the pathologies being built around people who are poor, that they’re going to stay poor.”


Bush on Thursday touted the education reforms he oversaw as Florida’s governor, arguing that expanding school choice is one way to improve opportunities for at-risk children.

“Baltimore is not a model for public education,” Bush said. “You want to see that, go to Florida."

Oh, yeah - Florida's a model for public education:

One of the regulations is that every kid has to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in order for the school to receive state support. That creates a problem, the school administrator tells Stewart. The problem: Michael. He has a disability.

Contacted, state officials cite state statutes. Michael has no options. He has to take the test.
Michael is nine years old. Born prematurely, he weighed four pounds. He has a brain stem but, according to doctors, most of his brain is missing.

No problem, says the state. An alternative version will be sent—pictures that Michael can describe.
Unfortunately, Michael is blind.

No problem, says the State. There’s a Braille version.

Michael doesn’t know Braille, and is unlikely to ever be able to learn it.

Amanda, Michael’s teacher, is frustrated. She really cares about the kids she teaches, and resists deliberately setting them up to fail. She also knows that Florida’s legislature, ignoring the research, has jumped on the merit pay bandwagon,  which requires that teachers evaluated in large part by the standardized test scores of their students. So Michael’s test score—a zero—and the scores of other disabled kids for whom she’s responsible, can set her up for a poor review or even get her fired.

Come on, Baltimore - don't you see how excessive standardized testing and other Florida-style education reforms can improve circumstances in your city?

Rhinebeck School District Officials: SED, State Pols In Denial Over Opt-Out

From the Daily Freeman:

RHINEBECK, N.Y. >> School district officials are convinced that state lawmakers and education officials are in denial about the high rate of refusals for standardized tests and the reasons parents are upset.

The comments were made during a Board of Education meeting Tuesday. Trustee Dierdre Burns contended that state Education Department officials are refusing to take the problem seriously and have developed alternative methods to compensate for low-test participation.

“I thought their reaction to it ... was almost comical,” she said. “It’s like intellectually embarrassing this idea that teachers now have to write student learning objectives after the year is over ... (in a) convoluted effort to come up with data instead of asking the question how do we create school systems that (are) improving education.”

Burns was also critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s comments that the test scores “are meaningless to the student” and said it was an example of how lawmakers are missing the message from parents.

“The government’s response to opt out is just completely undemocratic,” Burns said. “We have an issue in the state, and you don’t just run roughshod over what people are trying to communicate through opting out. You should try to address what this means.”

Gee, government in Andrew Cuomo's New York responds to the high rate of refusals for standardized tests in an undemocratic way that completely what people are trying to communicate through opting.

Who'd a thunk that would have been the response?

Well, anybody paying attention to how the SED, the Regents, the state legislature or Governor Cuomo has handled education policy these last few years for starters.

They really don't care what people think or how unpopular the education policies are, so long as they can maintain power and keep all that yummy yummy ed deform/hedge fundie money coming in.

Now it's true some Albany pols have acted a tad nervously after they voted for Cuomo's ed deform budget with heavy hearts and heard an earful from parents and teachers.

And it's also true that they're paying lip service to addressing the concerns of parents and teachers during the waning days of the legislative session.

But very few pols are talking about getting at the root of the problem - the test-driven system bolstered by the Endless Testing regime and the teacher evaluation system that ensures what gets tested and evaluated (and thus what gets taught.)

They'll tinker at the edges of that, but they won't dismantle it because it would make all of their hedge fundie and Wall Street donor friends sad and that's the last thing most politicians want to do.

We have to keep the pressure on the Abany pols to make sure they know there WILL be a political price paid for supporting the Endless Testing regime.

Merryl Tisch Gives Herself A Medal For Getting CCSS Test Scores Out Six Weeks Earlier (UPDATED - 3:55 PM)

Methinks Regents Chancellor Tisch sets the bar far too low for herself:

The Department of Education plans to release the results of the most recent round of standardized tests by July 1, following a vocal push to have students opt out of the Common Core-based examinations.
“One of the most important benefits of assessments is their use to inform instruction and strengthen student learning,” state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a statement released Thursday. “The early release of these reports will give districts the time they need to adjust curriculum and focus on improving learning outcomes for students in the upcoming year.”

Explain to me how releasing the Common Core test scores two-and-a-half months after students took the tests helps to "inform instruction and strengthen student learning" when the school year is over and students are on summer vacation?

In high school, Regents exams are given in January and June and the results are known days after students take the exams.

Frankly, I think the process for how those exams are graded is problematic, but you can argue that those exams (at least the January ones) might help "inform instruction and strengthen student learning" because the results are known right afterward, the tests themselves are published publicly and if students fail those exams, they can find out what they need to work on before they take the test again.

The CCSS 3rd-8th grade test results come out far too late for anything other than to use the score as a bldugeon for teachers, schools and, after the CCSS moratorium on using student scores ends, students.

I love that Tisch is patting herself on the back for getting the scores out a little earlier than normal this year but still not early enough to actually matter.

It's like she wanted a medal or a new set of pearls or something for doing what's not all that extraordinary.

UPDATED - 3:55 PM:

State of Politics blog offers the following update on this:

SED clarifies that the state is releasing instructional reports in July based on raw scores. The results won’t include new scale scores or performance levels.
So what initially wasn't much of a change is now even less of one.

Merryl Tisch Taken Off Scarsdale Common Core Panel

What to make of this?

A panel of education officials will tackle questions relating to the Common Core on Thursday night at Scarsdale High School.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who was originally slated to be on the panel, is now expected to attend as an audience member.

The panel for "Common Core and High Performers" will be Judith Johnson, the newly elected Board of Regents member; Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale; and Scarsdale schools Superintendent Thomas Hagerman.

Paulin said the panel would give the community a chance to hear "first-hand from a brand new Regent and a relatively new superintendent" on education reform. Hagerman took over in July 2014 as the superintendent of the Scarsdale district.

Did Tisch decide she's too toxic these days and take herself off the panel?

Was it "suggested" by one or more of the panel members that she sit in the audience instead of on the dais?

I dunno, maybe it doesn't mean anything at all, but these politicians and political functionaries are all suck sticklers for appearance.

To that point, I find it interesting that Tisch was supposed to appear on the panel but will instead appear in the audience.

Bloomberg's NYCDOE Covered Up Violence In Schools

This isn't a surprise:

A review of violent episodes at 10 public schools in New York City found that the Education Department failed to report nearly a third of the cases to the state, as required, according to an audit the state comptroller released on Wednesday.

The audit, which examined episodes during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, also found that some were inappropriately classified as less serious than they were.

“When incidents don’t get reported or are in effect downgraded, schoolchildren are put potentially in harm’s way,” the comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, said, adding, “The Department of Education can’t risk leaving parents uninformed about what’s going on in their child’s school.”

The more than 400 episodes that went unreported at the 10 schools included 50 assaults resulting in injuries, among them one case at Intermediate School 27 on Staten Island in which a student pushed another student over a desk, knocking him to the floor with the desk landing on top of him; 13 sex offenses; and two instances of confiscated weapons.

The state uses the city’s annual reports of violent episodes to designate certain schools as “persistently dangerous.” Those schools are required to take steps to reduce violence and to notify parents that they are entitled to enroll their children at a less violent place.

Again, no surprise that the Data King's Department of Education underreported violence in public schools because his police department underreported crimes.

Take this NY Times article from July 2013, for example:

A long-awaited report ordered by the police commissioner in New York has found deficiencies in the Police Department’s efforts to detect whether its crime statistics are being manipulated.

The report was released on Tuesday, more than two years after Mr. Kelly empaneled a committee of former federal prosecutors to review the department’s internal crime-reporting system.  
The committee’s report did not directly address how often such manipulation occurred, but it identified vulnerabilities in the department’s system for auditing the integrity of its crime statistics. 
Before each report of a crime is entered into the department’s computer system, relatively few controls exist to prevent officers on the street from refusing to fill out any paperwork or for supervisors to alter paperwork back in the station house, the review found.  
While praising the department on the considerable resources devoted to auditing crime statistics, the committee noted that most of those efforts were directed at identifying “human error” — that is, unintentional mistakes in a police officer’s paperwork. But for “an officer who wishes to manipulate crime reporting,” the report said there were “few other procedures in place that control the various avenues of potential manipulation.”  
The 60-page report describes several instances of manipulation in which felony crimes were marked down as misdemeanors. In one instance “a desk officer scratched out the item values in order to bring the total to below the $1,000 threshold for grand larceny,” which is a felony. 
In another instance, police paperwork for lost property “described a complainant who ‘lost property’ following an assault by multiple individuals,” according to the report, which added, “On its face the narrative appears to describe a robbery.”  
In the aggregate, the report found, the effect of such errors, intentional or otherwise, on crime statistics was not negligible. “A close review of the N.Y.P.D.’s statistics and analysis demonstrate that the misclassifications of reports may have an appreciable effect on certain reported crime rates,” the report said.  
The report noted, for instance, that Police Department auditors had already detected an error rate in 2009 suggesting that grand larcenies were undercounted that year by 2,312. The adjusted figures represent a 4.6 percent increase over the figures that the department issued that year. 

Bloomberg's data fetish - the data must always be better!!! - brought about all kinds of manipulation, deception, and outright falsification to how the city government agencies and departments operated.

If there were any independent study of the Bloomberg Years done, it would expose this for all to say.

Alas, there has not and probably will not be and so instead we are left with the myth of the "uber-competent" Mayor Bloomberg.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

State Senator John Flanagan Treats Public Education Like A Game

His words, not mine:

ALBANY—The State Senate may not extend mayoral control of New York City schools, let alone make it permanent, according to a prominent Republican senator.

Mayoral control in New York City and possibly other cities will be a prominent issue during the rest of the legislative session.

Some education reform advocates are advocating that the renewal of mayoral control in the city be linked to lifting or eliminating the state’s cap on charter schools.

“The games are beginning right now in earnest,” Flanagan said during the interview.

The games?

What is this, the Olympics?

I understand GOP senators want to stick it to de Blasio for trying to turn the State Senate to the Dems, so they're looking to extract some blood from de Blasio in exchange for a renewal of mayoral control.

But really, to say "the games are beginning right now in earnest," that really puts into perspective what Flanagan thinks about public education and education policy.

It's all a "game" to him.

You can be sure if this were Mayor Bloomberg looking for the renewal - you know, the same Mayor Bloomberg that gave all that money to Senate Republicans - he'd be treating mayoral control renewal differently.

George Carlin used to say, language always gives you away.

The language that Flanagan's using here certainly does.

Former Christie Aide Reported To Plead Guilty This Week In Bridgegate Scandal

This sounds like trouble for Chris Christie:

David Wildstein, a former ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is set to plead guilty this week, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, suggesting he may be cooperating with prosecutors probing traffic jams he ordered near the George Washington Bridge.

Wildstein is scheduled to appear Friday in federal court in Newark, where grand jurors have heard testimony in secret for months about gridlock over four mornings in Fort Lee, New Jersey, according to the person, who requested anonymity because the matter isn’t public.

He would plead guilty to a charging document known as a criminal information, the person said. It was unclear what the specific charges would be in the plea. The plea was originally scheduled for Thursday, the person said.

And why that's a problem for Christie:

Christie has denied knowledge of a plot to close two of the three local-access lanes to the world’s busiest bridge, which is run by the Port Authority. If Wildstein pleads guilty and cooperates with prosecutors, he could give them an inside view of how the plot unfolded.

Wildstein's lawyer has said in the past that "evidence exists" that proves Christie knew of the bridge closure plot at the time it was happening.

Christie said on the campaign trail tonight he's not "in the least bit concerned" about the Bridgegate investigation.

If he's not, then he's in some serious denial.

If Wildstein pleads guilty and cooperates with prosecutors, watch some of the other players in the investigation look to make their own deals with the feds before all the good deals are gone.

Waiting For The Skelos Indictment - And What Might Come After

Chris Smith in New York Magazine:

The chatter about Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Albany's plague of corruption investigations went on all day, everywhere. In the state capitol's corridors, in the restaurants where the pols and the lobbyists eat lunch.

I hear Dean might be indicted Thursday.

Is this one of Dean's last days as Senate majority leader?

Who's next?
"We've seen a lot of strange things in Albany," a veteran government operative says. "But we've never seen the indictment of two leaders of the legislature."
It hasn't happened. And maybe it never will. But the talk of the town has already moved on:
Will Bharara go for a trifecta?

A Skelos indictment is an almost near certainty - there's no way Bharara's office leaked the story of the Skelos scandal, complete with tales of subpoenas to Skelos' fellow Long Island Republican Senators and the empaneled grand jury looking into the State Senate Majority Leader, to the NY Times without an indictment coming down.

What comes after that will be most interesting.

Tom Libous, Skelos' deputy, is currently under indictment for lying to the FBI and has said he is dying from cancer.

Who takes over afterward, what exactly gets done in the waning days of the legislative session and what future leaks come from US Attorney Preet Bharara's office will be most interesting.

I know many readers on the blog are skeptical that Bharara is going to go for the trifecta and take down Cuomo too.

It seems almost unfathomable that the feds would take out all three men in the room in the New York government.

And yet, there is just enough smoke around Cuomo, his donors, the "pulled back" subpoenas, the Moreland Commission tampering and the like that, well, you never know...

Families For Excellent Schools Outspends NYSUT On Lobbying 3-1

From the Capital NY Playbook:

ALBANY’S TOP LOBBYISTS—Capital’s Bill Mahoney: Driven by the spending of two adversarial education advocates, interest groups appear to have spent a record amount of money lobbying governments in New York State in 2014. Families for Excellent Schools spent $9.7 million, and the New York State United Teachers finished second with $3.2 million. Wilson Elser continued its reign as the state’s top lobby firm, and Al D’Amato’s Park Strategies finished second.

You know when you see the word "powerful" in front of NYSUT in news stories about the union?

Can you really be "powerful" when your opposition can outspend you 3-1 lobbying for their interests over yours?

Shouldn't the word "powerful" come before Families For Excellent Schools" and the words "not as powerful as it used to be" come before NYSUT?

Lawmakers Say They'll Address Education Policy Concerns This Session

Jon Campbell and Joseph Spector at Gannett:

Key lawmakers in both the state Senate and Assembly agree that a wave of parents refusing state tests on their children's behalf demands action from the state Legislature.

The heads of the education committees in both chambers said on Tuesday they expect to take up legislation that will address a host of education issues, including the high opt-out rates.
Just what that action lawmakers take will be determined over the next two months. The Legislature is set to end its 2015 session at the Capitol on June 17.

"I absolutely believe we will take legislative action in the area of education that deals with all of these issues," said Senate Education Committee chairman John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County.

There are a couple of opt-out bills floating around, one by Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) that would require districts to notify parents a couple of weeks before the testing season by email or mail that they have the right to opt their children out of the tests.  The bill would also require districts to send a response form making it easier for parents to opt their children out.

The other bill, by Cathy Nolan (D-Queens), is a version that would "keep the state from retaliating or taking 'negative action' against any student, parent, administrator, school or school district for the opt-outs. It would apply to any state exams 'including but not limited to' the English and math tests administered to students in grades 3-8."

Other than those bills, what other actions will the legislature take up?

Well, the charter cap increase will be on the agenda (though of course that has nothing to do with why so many parents opted their children out of the state tests) and extension of mayoral control in NYC will also be on the agenda (again, nothing to do with opt outs.)

There's nothing in the items I just detailed that would derail the test-driven classroom and test-driven education culture that we currently have that is only going to get worse once Governor Cuomo's new teacher evaluation plan is completed and put into place.

To be frank, it seems to me the heavy hearts in the legislature are simply paying lip service to the concerns and frustrations of parents and teachers across the state, talking about taking meaningful action while taking as little of it as possible.

The opt out bills are a step in the right direction but they will not do much to derail the test-driven schools, test-driven classrooms and test-driven education culture we have in this state.

If the only actions the legislature takes the rest of this session is to clarify opt out rights, increase the charter cap and extend NYC mayoral control by three years, then not much is really changing in the system - especially since Cuomo's test-driven teacher evaluation system is looming for all next year.

And that's assuming anything gets done at all.

With a possible indictment/arrest coming for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and with the second in command in the state Senate, Tom Libous, already under indictment for lying to the FBI, there's a good possibility that little gets done the rest of this session.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Three Takes On The Danielson Rubric

I wrote something disparaging about the Danielson rubric in another post and got two interesting takes on it.

The first:

I think that given the current state of affairs in NYS, Danielson's evaluation rubric is the LEAST of the pressing issues confronting educators. I can fully understand the pushback from the teaching field regarding Danielson's model because, in most cases the implementation of Danielson was a "rush job" at best and in the end, it was never properly introduced and teachers (and, administrators) were never properly trained to use the model. Even Danielson acknowledged the improper use of her rubric a few years back during a conference address before teachers in New Jersey.

I DO NOT WORK FOR CHARLOTTE DANIELSON (although, I wish I did ... her model is perhaps the most commonly used today in public schools and facilitators make BIG $$$, I'm sure).

RBE, you talk about the loss of teaching "creativity" because of Danielson. That's unfortunate because in my 5 years of working with the Danielson model our faculty was able to "tweak" and adapt her rubrics in a manner that actually worked MUCH BETTER than our previous evaluation model. No teacher likes to feel boxed in nor do they want to feel that they must constantly teach to a syllabus ... teachers want freedom to teach in the classroom. I totally get that however, I also think that public schools should work locally to develop a meaningful evaluation model: one that is collaboratively-based (not a "gotcha") and one that encourages BEST teaching practice. Obviously, the manner in which many schools "adopted" Danielson did not fully bring those primary stakeholders (teachers/administrators) up to speed so that they could comfortably use the model and feel at ease that Danielson was not going to be used as a "punitive" tool to get rid of teachers and administrators.

I have never met Charlotte Danielson however, I have been trained in the model by her minions and find that when applied correctly, there is a great deal of value in the model. As they say in the automobile industry, "Your mileage may vary."

There is no ONE SIZE FITS ALL in public school education, we know that ALL too well in NYS. However, I think that teachers (and administrators) do need structure and an evaluation system that they understand and feel comfortable with. Unfortunately, Danielson and some of the other evaluation models have been trashed because they were not properly rolled out. It's too bad that this happened simultaneously with the God-awful attempt to force Common Core down our throats.

Perhaps one day (let's hope it comes sooner than later) teachers and administrators will be free to collaborate in a positive learning environment for the sake of kids. Perhaps one day that "creativity" you allude to will return in classrooms across NYS.

The second:

It is easier to achieve canonization than Highly Effective on the Danielson rubric because only two miracles are required.

I tend toward the second take, not the first, but I think the first commenter makes some salient points, especially about the speed with which Danielson and the evaluation system was hoisted upon us.

I still think the best take on Danieslon remains the seminal research done by W.D. Haverstock in his post "The Charlotte Danielson Rubric For The Highly Effective Husband."

If you haven't read that post, do yourself a favor and read it.

UFT Leaders Are Completely Detached From The Day-To-Day Reality Of Working Teachers

A commenter responds to the UFT's Teacher's Choice survey:

Not being a licensed psychiatrist I can only offer a layman's opinion, but something seems to happen once a person becomes a union official. You immediately enter another world, completely detached from the reality of rank and file teachers. Mulgrew's e-mail is evidence of this phenomenon.

The No. 1 issue right now for every teacher in the state is the looming teacher evaluation law that increases the use of one-time test results; utilizes administrators completely unfamiliar with us, our schools, students, dynamics, etc.; strips our unions of some rights to collective bargain; disturbs long established tenure regulations; undermines tenure protections; demands all of us with permanent teacher certifications to re-register them with the same state office that issued them in the first place, etc.

I don't give a damn about classroom supplies when my very livelihood is being threatened and useless union officials like the crews at the UFT and NYSUT are standing by seemingly helpless.

Another commenter's take:

 I would like the choice not to be evaluated with junk science and student test scores. Keep the money, put it toward fighting Cuomo and the deformers. Heck, use it to do anything!!! Our union just gets steamrolled by everything. Everyone just lies down and takes it, after the steamroller passes you see that Cuomo is driving and Mulgrew has his hands around his waist. There are corporate deform sponsor stickers all over that thing.

Classroom supply money?

Sure, it's swell.

But given all the stuff going on in the education world, it surely is not what I want my union leadership focused on right now.

Former New Jersey Teacher: I Was Forced To Campaign For Administrator Who Was Also The North Bergen Mayor

Time For Some Traffic Problems: Education Edition:

NORTH BERGEN -- A former North Bergen high school teacher claims in a political video that she was forced to campaign for longtime Mayor Nick Sacco, and was asked to give two politically connected officials' students top grades.

The video was posted on YouTube April 21 by Sacco's May 12 election opponent Larry Wainstein. On April 22, Mayor Nick Sacco and his supporters denied all the claims in a response video. 
"I was being forced to go knock on doors and say 'Mayor Sacco is great, he's wonderful, and how everything was great,' and I was just very upset," said Sarah Guillen, a North Bergen resident, in Wainstein's video.

Guillen switched jobs in 2013 after two years teaching in North Bergen, and now works as a French teacher in New York City, she said.

Sacco, who is also a top school administrator, posted his response on Facebook, calling Guillen's testimony "outright lies and slander."

There must be a new domain on the Danielson rubric - "Doing The Politically Expedient Thing To Ensure Incumbent Mayor/School Administrator Gets Re-elected."

Chris Christie Gets Defensive Over His Social Security Plan

This will be a winner for Christie:

Gov. Chris Christie dismissed critics of his controversial entitlement reform plans Monday night as "people who don't care whether Social Security stays solvent and is really there for the people who really need it."

"Let's remember," Christie said on his monthly radio show on New Jersey 101.5. "Social Security was created as insurance against poverty for the elderly so that no one — no matter what their circumstance, would live out their years in poverty. That's the primary reason for Social Security's creation. The fact is, we need to get it back to its core mission."

Last week, Christie, who is considering a run for president, went to New Hampshire to unveil a reform plan that called for both means testing and raising the retirement age.

Here's how Christie dealt with criticism of the plan from one caller on his "Ask The Governor" radio show:

A frustrated caller named Jeff noted that he'd already seen his retirement age jump from 65 to 67 in his lifetime under President Reagan's 1983 reform. He angrily asked Christie, "How many times are you going to move the goal line?"

The caller asked if Christie would consider, if president, would instead consider raising the income cap on social security payments to tax income beyond the currently-taxed $118,000 maximum.

Christie quickly lost his empathetic demeanor.

"I love this 'gimme gimme gimme!' attitude," said Christie, "These are facts: If we don't do it, the money's not going to be there. And the solution of a guy like Jeff is: Raise somebody's taxes. Not his. Raise somebody else's. I'm sorry. We hear this all the time. But the math doesn't work, and somebody has to be willing to tell you the truth. And that's what I'm doing."

That's it, Chris.

Keep beating up on people who complain about your Social Security plan.

There are a lot of aging people in the Republican Primary who are going to feel the same way "Jeff" does when you tell them they have to go to 69 to get their benefits and they'll be subject to a means test.

That's going to be a real winner during the primaries - if you make it that far.

Delay Or No Delay, Merryl Tisch Must Go

Commenters at Capital NY not buying the snake oil Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch is trying to sell:

Tisch's "listening" is too little and way too late. She has been dismissive of every concern raised by parents since the first education forums, scheduled and then cancelled, in the Fall of 2013. EngageNY is poorly designed, canned curriculum that students can access so that they can do the bare minimum required. Tisch claims the Regents and NYSED have not done a good enough job explaining the testing, and cannot even agree with herself as to what the tests are supposed to ascertain.

In the October regents meeting, she dismissed parental concerns about the removal of the RCT option for the local diploma by waving off that the IEP diploma "wasn't anything anyway" when that is not the issue that parents have been presenting.

She proposed giving a waiver for Cuomo's teacher evaluation plan to the highest performing (which means wealthiest) school districts but leaving the middle class and poorest districts to come up with yet another APPR plan and the funding to implement it.

New York parents are tired of the lies out of NYSED, tired of the "let them eat cake" attitude of the Regents under Tisch's misguided leadership and tired of our education system being sold to Pearson and their poorly designed, gag ordered, unfair and wasteful tests.


NY State's system of public education is badly broken and the fiasco lies on the shoulders of Tisch/King/Cuomo. When have two less experienced (and less competent) individuals as Merryl Tisch and John King been placed in charge of a $60M. enterprise? Why would someone like Tisch who has taught a few years in a non-public be elevated to Chancellor? How could King, who had run a 215 student Charter be placed in charge of a huge, diverse educational system without any background? Is anyone surpised at the fiasco that has ensued? Does anyone care that Tisch plays a role in hiring our third consecutive lightweight Commissioner? Tisch needs to go right now--to clear the pathway for attracting a worthy person to the role of Commissioner. I can promise you that if they hire another lightweight parents and educators will be marching on Albany with pitchforks in hand! The Tisch/Cuomo nonsense needs to end now--that is what parents were saying when they opted their children out this past month!

Tisch is flailing to save herself and her precious education reform agenda.

But the misdirections she's throwing out there - the "Let's exempt 10% of the districts from evals" or "How about a 10 month delay on the evaluation system?" - are fooling few.

Delaying the reforms doesn't change anything other than the timetable.

Merryl Tisch must go and she must take her reform agenda with her.

If Albany pols don't agree, then they must pay a political price for their support of Tisch and her agenda.

That's where we're at now and nothing Merryl Tisch does or says anymore can change that.

Education Reformer Jeanne Allen Says Baltimore Riots Are A Call For More Charter Schools

A picture of a deleted tweet by Jeanne Allen, founder of the Center for Education Reform:

So public schools are one of the causes of the civil unrest in Baltimore?

Uh, huh.

Here's one response:

And of course Allen's Center For Education Reform (she is now president-emeritus of the organization) lives off the "philanthropy" money:

Allen is a long-time proponent of public school privatization - here's her supporting the takeover of Philadelphia public schools by the for-profit Edison Schools:

Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, understands the enthusiasm for privatization in areas where public education has failed dismally. These companies are willing to be held accountable for their performance by contract.

"It's very refreshing for people for whom failure in public education presents a sense of urgency," she said.

Clearly Allen is on board with using whatever means necessary to hand over the public schools to her charter entrepreneur pals and sugar daddies.

This tweet sums things up:


The Real Teacher's Choice

UFT President Michael Mulgrew sent the following email this morning:

As an educator, you know best what supplies you need for your classroom and your students. That's why the UFT initiated the Teacher's Choice program, funded by the City Council, to give educators the freedom to purchase their own materials for use in schools.

Teacher's Choice was eliminated during the 2011–12 school year because of the recession. Although we were able to restore funding the following school year, the amount since then has remained a fraction of what it used to be even as our city's economy has recovered.

That's why we're launching a new campaign to restore Teacher's Choice — and we need you to tell us your stories.

According to our first annual teacher survey last year, we know that teachers like you spend an average of $500 above the Teacher's Choice allotment on classroom supplies.

By sharing your stories about what Teacher's Choice means for classroom learning, you can help persuade lawmakers to restore Teacher's Choice funding.

What projects have your students been able to accomplish with the supplies you've bought in the past? What would you be able to provide for your students with more Teacher's Choice funding?

Our city now has the most state education aid it's received in eight years. Let's show our elected officials why we need a substantial increase in Teacher's Choice funding.

Do you know what I would like for Teacher's Choice?

To not be evaluated via the Danielson rubric that enforces a "One Ring To Teach Them All" way of teaching.

They can keep the money - let me have some freedom in my classroom again.

Let me be creative again.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Albany Pols Feel The Heat Over The Education Policy They Voted For In The Budget

Yancey Roy in Newsday:

While much of the Senate buzz has been about Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and federal prosecutors, that’s not what the rank-and-file Republicans were wringing their hands about during an especially lengthy closed-door conference last Wednesday.

It was the fallout from teacher evaluations and standardized testing.
Republicans spent more than two hours discussing the spike in students’ boycotting, or “opting out” of standardized tests last week, and the heat some politicians are getting for approving a bill that more closely ties teachers’ evaluations to students’ test scores. Senators are kicking around ideas to address the issue.

It's about time these Albany politicians feel a little over anxiety over education policy.

Keep the pressure on - keep making the calls, sending the emails, visiting their offices, talking to them at events - and let them know what was done in the budget was untenable and if it is not undone soon, you will take it out on them in the next election and make sure your family and friends do the same.

They're listening - especially when you let them know how many people you intend to influence to vote AGAINST them because of their support for ed deform.

Heastie Doesn't Get It: Testing Issue Not Just About Hours Spent On Testing

From State of Politics:

The response to the large number of students opting out of the most recent round of standardized tests be may be a “macro look” at the number of hours spent on examinations, Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday said.

“It is a concern for all of us with a huge number of students opting out,” Heastie told reporters.


Heastie said the numbers will likely spur lawmakers in Albany to take a broader look at the issue of testing in the classroom.

“We do have to take a real macro look at this,” he said.

It's not about how much time is spent on testing.

It's about the stakes that are attached to the testing.

So long as the stakes are schools get closed and teachers get fired based upon test scores, there will be test-driven classrooms and schools that dominate everything else.

That's the "macro look" at testing.

Cuomo Says He'd Like To Run For A Third Term

He's been well below 50% in job approval in the Siena poll since late 2014 (see hereherehere, here and here), but that's not stopping Governor Andrew Cuomo from warning New Yorkers he plans to run for a third term:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signaled that he intends to run for a third term in 2018.

“We are in the midst of a phenomenal transformation in the state of New York,” Cuomo told reporters in Manhattan Monday. “There’s nothing else that I would rather do than what I’m doing. I plan to stay as long as the people will have me.”

We're in the midst of a phenomenal transformation in the state of New York all right.

I've never before seen hundreds of thousands of parents opt their children out of the state tests before.

"Opt-Out" Parents To Merryl Tisch: Delay Not Good Enough

Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY gets some reaction to Regents Chancellor Tisch's gambit to try and delay Cuomo's new teacher evaluation system for a year:

“She probably thought it would [calm parents], but it hasn’t. It actually is getting everybody angrier,” said Lisa Rudley, a Westchester County parent who is a founding member of New York State Allies for Public Education, which has demanded Tisch’s resignation. “It’s just a distraction, and it’s not really addressing any of our concerns. Our classrooms will be still be test-driven classrooms.”


“She was somewhat taken aback that the number of people objecting to the testing has grown to a strong six-figure number, and she wants to placate us,” said Mitchell Rubinstein, a Nassau County parent of two.

“She came to parent forums throughout the state and listened to parents and teachers get up and talk about all our problems with the system and basically ignored everything we had to say,” he said, referring to hearings Tisch and former education commissioner John King held in late 2013 on Common Core implementation. “And after [the ‘opt out’ movement] happens, she makes this announcement? That’s awfully coincidental. She wants people to think she’s hearing them or listening to them.”

Michelle Gamache, another Nassau County parent, also doubted that Tisch’s plan was a genuine response to stakeholders’ concerns.

“Why now is she listening?” Gamache said. “What changed that made her listen now? Because tens of thousands of parents for two years now have been trying to discuss the testing policies, and she has completely ignored us. She is completely out of touch with what we’re saying.”

Deb Escobar, a grandmother of two toddlers and a former teacher of 24 years in Guilderland, a suburb of Albany, said Tisch’s plan doesn’t go far enough. But it does demonstrate that activists have gotten education officials’ attention with the “opt out” movement.

“It shows that there is beginning to be a crack in the armor,” she said. “They cannot just disregard us totally, as they have been doing up to this point.”

Many parents not buying the snake oil Tisch is selling.

Let's be frank here.

For years now Tisch, SED, the governor and Albany pols thought they could shove any old policy down the throats of the parents and teachers of this state and there was nothing anybody could do about it.

Tisch and SED paid lip service to listening to parents and teachers over concerns about Common Core, the testing regime, and the evaluation system when Tisch took John King on the Common Core Tour around the state, but the truth is, they did not change anything about the state education reform agenda despite hearing numerous complaints.

Now parents are opting their children out of the Endless Testing regime by the hundreds of thousands and suddenly Tisch wants to make believe like she's listening and responding to concerns from parents and teachers.

She is not.

She's thrown a few misdirections out there - exempting 10% of the state's districts from the evaluation system, delaying the system for a year - but these misdirections do not address the central problem with the state's education reform agenda, which is that the Common Core standards, the Endless Testing regime put in place along with the CCSS and the teacher evaluation system imposed in order to make sure the CCSS is being taught the way they want it taught ensures that every classroom in the state is a "test-driven classroom" where the creativty and joy of learning are sucked out and replaced with "accountability," "assessment" and "rigor".

Tisch must go, the state's education agenda must be shelved and a parent- and teacher-led agenda must replace it.

Enough with the Gates Foundation fellows and interns at the Regents and SED imposing their corporate reform agenda on the state.

Siena Poll: New Yorkers Support Opt-Out Rights 50%-44%

From State of Politics:

Half of New York voters believe parents have the right to opt their children out of state-base standardized tests, a Siena College poll released on Monday found.


The poll found voters back allowing parents to opt their children out of state testing, 50 percent to 44 percent.

Across the political and geographic spectrum, too, found support for parents opting their children out of the tests, the poll found. The most recent round of state testing concluded last week.

The poll comes after thousands of students opting out of the math and English language arts round of state testing, which was based off the controversial Common Core education standards.

Cuomo's job approval remains underwater, 44%-55%.

More education findings:

Voters were mixed on how much student test scores should count toward a teacher’s review.
The poll found more than two-thirds of voters believe standardized tests should count for no more than a quarter of a teacher’s evaluation score.

Thirty percent of voters polled say tests shouldn’t count at all toward a teacher’s review, while 28 percent believe an exam should count for half or even more of a teacher’s evaluations.

Cuomo gets support for one part of his agenda:

Nevertheless, New York voters do support one aspect of Cuomo’s education policy definitively: 59 percent back making it easier for school districts to fire poor-performing teachers. 

A mixed poll overall.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cuomo Blames NYSED/Regents For The "Massive Chaos" And "Utter Failure" Of The CCSS Roll Out, But Is Okay With Them Developing Evals

A Perdido Street School blog reader comments on Governor Cuomo's "The state test scores are meaningless for students" statement:

Another question Cuomo needs to explain is why he would turn over the development of regulations regarding teacher evaluations to an education department that had not done a good job in implementing his beloved Common Core Standards. You cannot make this nonsense up--NY State public education has been turned into one huge fiasco by the deformers. Every time they open their mouth they spout more complete non-sense then go off and hide until after another legislator is indicted (taking the pressure off them to explain their nonsense). Usually, they only need to wait a week, or two before they can stick their head out again!

You really can't make this nonsense up, as the commenter says.

Here's what Cuomo said about NYSED and the Regents regarding the Common Core roll out in June 2014:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted teacher evaluation adjustments remain a top priority in the final days of the legislative session, adding that the problems over the Common Core implementation lay at the feet of the state Department of Education.

“We’re working on a bill that would make adjustments to teacher evaluations,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “We’re literally working on them as we speak.”

Cuomo added it’s the state Education Department’s roll out of Common Core, however, that has created the effect of needing to change the evaluation law, which is tied to Common Core-based testing.

The state budget agreement slowed the roll out of Common Core implementation for students, and Cuomo earlier this year said he wanted to make adjustments to the 2013 teacher evaluation law accordingly.

“In truth, the reason we’re in this situation is because the Board of Regents and Mr. King didn’t handle it,” Cuomo said, referring to Education Commissioner John King. “That’s how we got here. These are problems that have developed because of the improper roll out of Common Core in my opinion. We addressed the issues with the students and now we’re trying to address the issues with the teachers.”

This wasn't the first time Cuomo went both barrels at NYSED and the Regents over Common Core. Here was Cuomo's comments in February 2014:

ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo took another shot at the State Board of Regents Thursday, blaming the education policy makers for “massive chaos” that he said has resulted from their implementation of the Common Core standards in New York.

Cuomo said he agreed with a protester's sign that proclaimed there was no proof the Common Core would help students.

“Yeah, I'm with them,” Cuomo said, referring to the protester. “The Common Core is being implemented by something called the Board of Regents. I have nothing to do with it.

“The Board of Regents supervises the State Education Department, and I don't appoint anyone to the Board of Regents, either,” Cuomo continued. “So I'm sort of where the parent is, standing outside with a sign. And by the way, I would hold the same basic sign that the parent is holding. I think the way they have implemented Common Core has failed utterly. There is massive confusion, massive anxiety and massive chaos all across the state. It may have been a good idea, but you need a good idea, and then it has to be done properly."

The Regents and SED brought "massive chaos" to the state education system via their "utter failure" in rolling the standards out, but he's swell with them developing a new evaluation system on an intractable deadline.

You really can't make this nonsense up.

Andrew Cuomo's New York: The State Where Teachers Get Fired Based Upon "Meaningless" Test Scores

Here's a tweet I sent to Governor Cuomo this morning:

Now the governor's probably still shaking off the sugar coma from last night's Sandra Lee Margarita Mix cupcakes, so he hasn't responded to my tweet just yet, but I do hope somebody from the state can explain to me, if the state test scores are "meaningless" as Governor Cuomo said Friday and students should just take the tests for "practice," how they can be used to rate teachers and sort them out for either bonuses on the high end or firing on the low end.

Here, again, is what Cuomo said Friday (courtesy of Jessica Bakeman and Laura Nahimas at Capital NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday said parents who have chosen to have their children “opt out” of taking this month’s state exams don’t understand that the scores are “meaningless” in terms of students' grades.

“That’s their option,” Cuomo, referring to parents who have participated in the unprecedented boycott of state exams, told reporters after an Association for a Better New York breakfast in Manhattan. “What I don’t think has been adequately communicated is, we passed a law that stops the use of the grades on the test for the student. So the grades are meaningless to the student.”


“My position was, the department of education had not done a good job in introducing the Common Core, and they had rushed it, so we said, for a period of five years, the test scores won’t count,” Cuomo continued. “So they can opt out if they want to, but on the other hand, if the child takes the test as practice, then the score doesn't count anyway.”

Cuomo went on to hail his new teacher evaluation system, the third in the last four years in New York State, as an improvement over recent iterations:

Cuomo argued the new system cuts down on testing, addressing parents’ and students’ concerns.
“It also reduces student testing, because we believe they’re over-tested and over-stressed, and that’s generating a lot of angst among parents,” Cuomo said, inspiring hesitant applause from a few audience members.

“You should applaud for that,” the governor said, “because it’s true.”

A few more people clapped.

What Cuomo doesn't seem to understand or doesn't care to understand is that you can't say testing anxiety and overtesting have been reduced in the state if you put through an education reform agenda that forces schools to be taken over and teachers to be fired based upon the state tests.

It may be technically true that the new system includes fewer tests, what with the local performance measures going away, but a system with fewer tests doesn't translate into less test anxiety or, for that matter, less emphasis on testing, not when those fewer tests count so much more for teachers and schools.

What's made even worse is that the tests themselves are, as the governor said, "meaningless" for students and should just be taken with the mindset that they're "practice" tests.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm not all that thrilled to hear that the governor thinks it's perfectly okay to make my teaching job contingent in part on "practice" tests that are "meaningless" to students.

That Cuomo thinks it's a swell defense of his education reform agenda to say the test grades are "meaningless" and just "practice" for students but high stakes for teachers and schools tells you everything you need to know about his education reform agenda.

It has nothing to do with children and everything to do with firing teachers and closing schools so they can be handed over to his charter school supporters.

Time To Thank Andrew Cuomo For His "Monumental Gaffe" That The Common Core Tests Are "Meaningless"

I've been hitting on Governor Cuomo's remark to reporters late last week that students should take Common Core state tests because the scores don't count for them for a couple of days now (see here, here and here.).

The governor said the scores are "meaningless" for students, so they should take the tests because they are just "practice".

Given that he was adamant the scores should be used to fire teachers and close schools, I thought that "meaningless" statement was quite an admission by the governor and many readers of Perdido Street School blog thought the same, but I haven't seen much in the news media about the statement.

Until today, when Fred LeBrun wrote about it today in the Times-Union:

The New York opt-out movement will only grow next year, especially in light of Cuomo's monumental gaffe on Friday.

"The grades are meaningless to the students," Cuomo emphasized to a group of reporters, obviously reacting to the success of the opt-outers. Meaningless for the next five years, he said. Meaningless. So, remind us why they're taking these tests, if they aren't being used to steer and model learning and personal improvement?

"They can opt out if they want to, but on the other hand if the child takes the test, it's practice and the score doesn't count."

Ah, practice. So, all the anxiety and tears by young learners, parental anguish, all for nothing but practice. I'm sure parents especially will be pleased to hear they've been played for suckers and their children used as pawns.

Because those tests do count, just not for the kids. Those standardized tests which now the kids know they can fail with impunity, which they will give the effort the lack of accountability deserves, will be used to rank, grade and fire teachers.

What the governor has told us here with the back of his hand is that his fiercely imposed teacher evaluation plan is not just deeply flawed and outrageously unfair, it's — his word — meaningless.

LeBrun nails it as usual - Cuomo, the Regents and the state educrats are playing parents for suckers and using children as pawns in order to impose their "accountability" system onto schools and teachers that is, in the end, "meaningless."

This statement by Governor Cuomo that the tests are "meaningless" for students will be used again and again and again in the battle against Endless Testing and the state's education reform agenda.

It is, as LeBrun wrote, a "monumental gaffe" that puts Cuomo's whole education reform agenda into perspective.

That reform agenda is "meaningless" in any productive sense and is only meant to be used as a bludgeon to close schools, fire teachers and instill fear and anxiety in a system already rife with both.

200,000+ parents understood that and sent a message to the state politicians and educrats that they will no longer enable that system to flourish by providing its precious "data" by opting their children out of the state tests.

When next year's tests come, we will use Cuomo's "the grades are meaningless" statement over and over and over in the lead up to the state testing period to add to this year's opt-out numbers and put even more of a shiv into the system.

If you're an opponent of the Endless Testing regime, the Common Core, teacher evaluations tied to test scores and other tenets of the corporate education reform agenda, you have to give Andrew Cuomo credit where credit is due.

He helped out greatly with the opt-out movement this year by imposing his draconian education reforms in the budget and essentially forcing the legislature to either take them or vote down the budget.

Coming just a few weeks before the state testing period, that threw a lot of fuel onto the fire against the Endless Testing regime.

And now he's done an even bigger favor to the movement by admitting the tests are "meaningless" to students.

Thanks, Governor Cuomo.

That's an admission that is going to keep on giving and giving.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chris Christie: Districts With High Opt-Out Rates On PARCC Will Likely Face Funding Cuts And Tax Hikes

This is certainly ratcheting up the counter attack on the opt-out movement:

During a Town Hall appearance on Thursday in Cedar Grove, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told a packed auditorium that the PARCC opt-out movement will have ramifications beyond his control.

“It’s their right if they want to opt out… There’s nothing I can do to stop them,” Christie said, suggesting that the likely consequences are funding cuts and higher taxes. “But then don’t come later and complain you don’t get the money that you’re used to.”

Politicians and educrats in many states are making vague threats about cuts in federal aid to school districts but Christie, with his usual bluster, has gone a bit further.

High opt-out rates will result in higher taxes.

That's a potent threat from a governor who refuses to support an increase to the gas tax in New Jersey even as the state's infrastructure falls apart (literally in some cases) and the public rail system faces tens of millions of dollars in short falls.

An increase in the gas tax would raise money to keep New Jersey bridges from falling into the water and NJ Transit from fare hikes and service cuts 5 years after a 22% fare hike and cuts to service.

But Christie refuses to support a gas tax hike because he's looking to run for president touting himself as a governor who doesn't raise taxes in a Republican primary where raising any tax is heresy to conservative voters.

Yet he's willing to raise taxes on school districts with high opt-out rates.

This says a lot about Chris Christie and where he stands on the Endless Testing regime.

No taxes can ever be raised in New Jersey, even if that means part of the Pulaski Skyway falls into the river - but if too many parents opt their kids out of the PARCC tests (He's looking at you, Montclair!), tax hikes are coming!

Questions For Governor Cuomo Over The "Meaningless" Common Core Tests

NY Teacher has some questions for Andrew Cuomo now that the governor's on record declaring New York State Common Core tests "meaningless" for students:

This quote should be the battle cry of the NY Resistance.

Why are students taking meaningless tests?

Why are taxpayer funding ($32 M) meaningless tests?

Why are teachers evaluated using meaningless tests?

Even more important: Why are the tests meaningless?

 Cuomo is going to choke on these damning words.

One more question:

Why isn't this headline blaring from the NY Post, Daily News, and Newsday?


Great questions.

Let's start putting them to Assembly Members, State Senators, members of the Board of Regents, the educrats at NYSED and the newspapers editorial writers.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cuomo Says Test Scores For Students Are "Meaningless" - So Why Do Students Have To Take The Tests?

As I posted earlier, Governor Cuomo has gone on record today calling New York State Common Core test scores "meaningless" for students.

No, seriously:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was questioned earlier Friday about news that school districts are likely to request delays in implementing the new teacher evaluation program he inserted in this year’s budget. He stressed that the tests used in the evaluations don’t affect the students grades.

“The grades are meaningless to the students,” Cuomo said in a brief press gaggle following an Association for a Better New York breakfast event in New York City.


Cuomo said he believes they haven’t done a good job of publicizing the fact that the tests, for at least the next five years, won’t count at all for the students.

Michael Fiorillo responded:

Wait, if "the grades are meaningless to the students," as our Reptilian Governor contends, then how can they also be a vehicle for "the civil rights movement of our time?"

The legacy civil rights organizations, leaning on Gates Foundation money, preposterously claim that high stakes tests are necessary to illuminate "the achievement gap," a propaganda term used to scapegoat teachers and public education, while ignoring systemic inequality and poverty. They do this despite the origins and long history of these exams being used to "prove" the "inferiority" of darker races.

This so-called education reform is one leaky boat, with everyone expected to maintain a perpetual state of Doublethink, whereby the tests are meaningless, except when they are integral to civil rights.

Someday, when the so-called reformers have been driven back under their rocks, historians and teachers will use the entire sorry episode of the past 20+ years to instruct their students about the dangers of propaganda and fallacies.

Unless, of course, the so-called reformers win, in which case the brutal Common Core/Testing regime will not permit that kind of teaching.

Michael's right - you have to be in a perpetual state of Doublethink in order to buy education reform tenets.

The test scores are "meaningless" for students, but they're also the "civil rights movement of our time" and essential for ensuring teacher and school quality.

Horse hockey.

If the test scores are"meaningless," then the test-taking exercise is meaningless and so are the tests.

Cuomo Says State Tests Only Count For Teachers, Not For Students

Governor Cuomo, ever the divider, looks to drive a wedge between parents and teachers on the opt-out/Endless Testing issue:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was questioned earlier Friday about news that school districts are likely to request delays in implementing the new teacher evaluation program he inserted in this year’s budget. He stressed that the tests used in the evaluations don’t affect the students grades.

“The grades are meaningless to the students,” Cuomo said in a brief press gaggle following an Association for a Better New York breakfast event in New York City.

The tests, given in grades 3-8 in English and math are used to evaluate how effective a teacher is. Scores from a given teacher’s class can be compared at the start and end of a school year to see how much the kids have learned.

The idea has enraged teachers though, and it has sparked a growing boycott with parents saying that their kids are being stressed out by the exams.

Cuomo said he believes they haven’t done a good job of publicizing the fact that the tests, for at least the next five years, won’t count at all for the students.

“They can opt out if they want to, but on the other hand if the child takes the test, it’s practice and the score doesn’t count."

The message from Cuomo:

Hey, parents, these tests don't count for your kids, just for their teachers, so why not send them on in to school to take those state tests so we can start evaluating their teachers via the scores and fire some of them?

Of course this argument is jive.

If the tests are used as bludgeons to close schools and fire teachers, they cause huge anxiety all throughout the school, from the children to the adults.

Kids can see when adults are stressed out or worried about stuff, and you can bet they know that their teachers are worried they're going to lose their jobs based on these test scores.

Cuomo can try and drive a wedge between parents and teachers all he wants by saying the tests don't count for students, only teachers.

The truth is, that's only for a little while - the scores will soon count for children too.

And even if they don't count now, they very much count for the teachers and the schools and that's more than enough to drive up the anxiety levels of everybody in the school.

Then there's the problem that, even if the tests don't count for students yet, there is still much class time that is lost to the actual testing period as well as the test prep.

I can't imagine too many parents are going to be won over by Cuomo's "Hey, the scores don't count for the kids for a couple more years" argument since the entire culture of the school will still be affected by the high stakes surrounding these tests.

Merryl Tisch And Andrew Cuomo Play A Game Of "Bad Cop/Worse Cop"

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch is getting some positive press and supportive statements from Albany politicians, fellow members of the Board of Regents and even NYSUT after she announced that she will look to delay implementation of Governor Cuomo's teacher evaluation system until September 2016 instead of rushing it into place by Cuomo's November 15, 2015 deadline.

I posted this morning that delaying a horrendous teacher evaluation system by a fewmonths is too little, too late in terms of change, especially since Tisch is adamant that the rest of the state's education reform agenda, including the Common Core testing that nearly two hundred thousand students opted out of last week (with more opt outs coming in this week for the math exams) continues.

Tisch can call for a delay and make it look like she's responsive to students, parents and teachers all she wants - the move does not erase the years of her autocratic imposition of the state ed agenda with nothing other than lip service paid to parents or teachers about their concerns.

I continue to echo the Journal News and NYSAPE in calling for Merryl Tisch to step down as chancellor or be forced to step down by the heavy hearts in the Assembly who ultimately can pull rank on her and let her know it's time to go.

Perdido Street School readers aren't fooled by Tisch's gambit either, with Michael Fiorillo calling it a "bad cop/worse cop" game she's playing with Andrew Cuomo:

With this transparent bit of misdirection, Tisch apparently wants us to be taken by a phony "Good cop, Bad cop" scenario.

But, as always, she's being dishonest; it's really "Bad cop, Worse Cop."

There is some conjecture out there that Tisch's delaying tactic is a way to ultimately defeat Cuomo over evaluations, but as one reader notes, that is something we can't count on:

Tisch is playing political games and the politicians and her fellow Regents might just be dumb enough to fall for it. Let's not forget that Tisch wrote a letter to Cuomo advocating for raising the testing component of APPR to 40% and lengthening the time it takes to get tenure, etc. In other words, Tisch is certainly no friend of public school teachers. Tisch has to go and the sooner the better.

A friend of mine who is a superintendent feels that the delay Tisch is advocating for will mean the end of the newly enacted evaluation law. He said he has seen things like this play out for 40 years. The delay gets it off the burner and then something else happens in the interim. I hope he is right, but I have serious doubts.

NYSUT and all of us have to keep up the pressure on the coward Assembly and Senate members, letting both groups know that we intend to hold them to account for their votes against us. It's the only thing these liars respect.

I agree - the pressure must be kept up, on the Assembly, on the State Senate, on NYSED, on the Board of Regents and on Cuomo himself.

The 10 month APPR delay is nothing more than a misdirection by Tisch to save herself and her precious ed deform agenda.

Tisch must go, the Tisch/Cuomo/NYSED ed deform agenda must be stopped and politicians that continue to support the Endless testing regime mus pay a political price for that support.

Merryl Tisch Plays Political Games

Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY:

ALBANY—When state Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch announced late Wednesday a plan to delay implementation of new teacher evaluations, she turned some of her high-profile critics into supporters overnight.

She also earned the ire of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

For her, it’s a win-win.

Tisch’s decision to use the board’s regulatory authority to circumvent what she called an “unrealistic” statutory deadline for districts to adopt new evaluation plans addressed critics’ contention that the board has forced reforms on schools without providing enough time or resources to implement them properly.

 It also allowed her to shift the blame for the already unpopular rating system back to Cuomo, with whom she has played a political game of hot potato for years.

If Merryl Tisch thinks she can survive as chancellor by playing off Cuomo, she's got another thing coming:

A coalition of parents’ groups that organized a boycott of state English and math exams is calling on Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to resign, claiming she has left New York’s education policy in shambles.

The group released a list of demands that include a reduction in testing and establishing an independent review of state Common Core standards.

This is as much Tisch's education reform agenda as Cuomo's and if she thinks calling for delays in the implementation of the evaluation plan is going to make people forget that or her record as chancellor, she's wrong.

As New York State Allies For Public Education put it yesterday:

This past week, the national attention focused on the parent uprising taking place in New York State. Spurred to action by the refusal of both the Governor and the NYS Education Department’s failure to respond to legitimate concerns, thousands of parents fought back to protect their children.

At this time, estimates indicate parents of close to 200,000 students this year have refused New York State's Common Core testing agenda and the final figures are expected to be even higher. The educational program of the state is in chaos. Leadership is more important than ever.

On Sunday, April 19th the Editorial Board of The Journal News declared, "The stunning success of the test-refusal movement in New York is a vote of no confidence in our state educational leadership" in calling for Chancellor Merryl Tisch to step aside.

New York State Allies for Public Education, a grassroots coalition of over fifty parent and educator advocacy organizations from all corners of the Empire State, stands with the Editorial Board of The Journal News. Chancellor Tisch must step down.

The only way for the Board of Regents, Assembly, and Senate to regain trust of their constituents is to call for the Regents to empower a new leader to fix within its authority, the Cuomo budget legislation fiasco and the misguided Regents Reform Agenda.

“Parents have been left with no choice. We will submit our refusal letters, which is our parental right, on day one of school, next year and every year and if those in power will not listen, we will free our children from a test driven, developmentally inappropriate education,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and Long Island Opt Out founder.

“For the past two years Chancellor Tisch has repeatedly ignored parents at forums throughout the state. She is incapable of leading the state in a new direction because she believes what is happening is just fine and her latest plea for asking for more time is just a distraction from the real issues. Her repeated calls for critics to “calm down” indicates her unwillingness to change course.” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“On Chancellor Tisch's watch, the work of the State Education Department has been outsourced to a privately funded ‘Regents Fellows’ think tank. It is not surprising that the reforms put forth by this think tank advance the agenda of the wealthy ‘yacht set’ and corporate-linked groups that fund the Regent Fellows: The Robin Hood Foundation, Gates Foundation, and even Chancellor Tisch herself. When you replace a public service with a private organization that advances corporate agendas, New Yorkers know that is corruption,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent and Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY founder.

“While the Governor has demonstrated blatant disregard for the will of the people by doubling down on the use of high stakes testing, the State Education Department and Chancellor Tisch similarly ignored parent concerns regarding inappropriate test content by forcing children to read passages on last week’s ELA tests that were up to four years above grade level followed by vague and confusing questions,” said Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent, Central NY Opt Out co-founder, and educator.

Fred Smith, testing specialist, NYC public schools retired administrative analyst, and Change the Stakes member said, “Instead of transparency and disclosure of complete and timely test data that would open the quality of the ELA and math exams to independent review, Tisch has ruled over an unaccountable testing program that flies at near-zero visibility--in a fog of flawed field testing procedures, age-inappropriate poorly written items, the covert removal of test questions after they have been scored, arbitrarily drawn cut off scores, and the misapplication of the results to reach unsupportable conclusions about students, teachers, and schools." 

Delaying a horrendous teacher evaluation system by a few months will not erase Merryl Tisch's record or calls for her to go.

Merryl Tisch must step down as chancellor and if she does not, pressure must be put on the "heavy hearts" in the Assembly to let them know that a political price will be paid for their continued support of Merryl Tisch and her education reform agenda.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lawmakers Are Paying Attention To The Barrage Of Emails, Calls And Visits They're Getting Over Education Policy

Lawmakers are paying attention to the anger out there over the Endless Testing regime and the state's education reform agenda:

“Upon returning from a two-week break, the Senate Republican majority met behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss the ‘barrage of e-mails, visits [and] phone calls’ members have gotten from constituents regarding education policy changes that were included in the state budget, education committee chair John Flanagan said. The conference began having ‘extensive conversations’ about a bill dubbed the ‘Common Core parental refusal act,’ sponsored by Senator Terrence Murphy, a new Republican member from the lower Hudson Valley. The bill would require school districts to notify parents of their right to refuse Common Core-aligned tests.”

Yes, they're paying attention to the opt-out numbers, the social media barrages, the visits/emails/phone calls.

Now whether they do anything of consequence is a different matter.

I'm skeptical about that, as I wrote earlier.

These politicians have been softened up by the sheer intensity of the test opposition and anger over Cuomo's reform agenda that many voted for .

But so far, not one Albany politician has paid a political price for supporting the Endless Testing regime, Common Core or Cuomo's deform agenda.

No doubt the pols are listening but I'm not sure they're really had any "Come To Jesus" moments over this yet.

Until a political price is paid for supporting the Endless Testing regime, the Common Core or Cuomo's deform agenda, I suspect that we'll get more lip service out of our Albany politicians than actual change.

It's going to take one or two of these politicians getting taken out in a primary or general election for them to see that supporting deform can cost them politically.

Albany Pol: Opt-Out Numbers Are "Shocking"

From State of Politics:

State lawmakers this week said the effort to alter and trim some of the education policy measures approved in the 2015-16 budget plan are being spurred in large part by the large number of students opting out of the current round of standardized tests.  
“It’s not my colleagues, it’s being generated by the people of the state of New York,” said Buffalo Assemblyman Sean Ryan. “Last week’s opt out numbers are really shocking.”

Cathy Nolan pays some lip service to democratic values:

 “We’re only here through the consent of the governed,” said Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Cathy Nolan, a Queens Democrat. “If people are unhappy, then we have to respond. And the Assembly is responding.”

Put me down as skeptical that the "Assembly is responding" to the "consent of the governed."

So long as Merryl Tisch remains in power, so long as NYSED continues to impose its ed deform agenda on students, teachers, schools and school districts, so long as Cuomo can shove through an education reform agenda as easily as a Sandra Lee meal goes into the garbage, I'm not ready to believe the "Assembly is responding" to the "consent of the governed."

On Long Island And Elsewhere, A Repeat Surge Of Opt Outs For State Math Exams

From Newsday:

Tens of thousands of Long Island elementary and middle school students refused to take the state math exam on the first day of testing Wednesday -- a repeat surge of the record boycott on last week's English Language Arts assessment and a huge increase over last year's opt-outs, a Newsday survey shows.

In 39 districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties, 32,704 of 67,612 students in grades three through eight opted out of the state math exam.

That's 48.3%.

From Putnam County, there is this update:

MAHOPAC, N.Y. -- A majority of Mahopac Central School District students eligible to take the state Math exams for grades 3 through 8 this week have opted out, Interim Superintendent Brian Monahan disclosed Wednesday.

According to data provided by the school district, out of 1,946 eligible students, 1,013, or 52 percent, have opted out. Just 933 have participated.

The majority refusal rate for the math tests comes following last week's administration of state English Language Arts (ELA) testing. The opt-out rate for ELA was about half, Monahan said.

From the Times Herald:

MONROE - The second round of a burgeoning boycott was in high gear on Wednesday as thousands of students sat out the state's math tests.
Just as many school officials and opt-out supporters expected, the number of students to refuse the tests appeared to be way up, including here in the mid-Hudson.
Locally, the preliminary opt-out numbers are even higher than last week's, when the state English Language Arts tests were offered. Some advocacy groups estimate at least 155,000 students statewide refused the ELA tests, which is about triple the total number of kids that opted out last year. In the Monroe-Woodbury district, nearly 47 percent, or 1,535, students, did not take the math tests on the first day, according to district officials. 
Last week, 43 percent of eligible students refused the ELA tests.

From the Poughkeepsie Journal:

The "opt-out" movement to refuse Common Core-aligned state exams continues to gain momentum, with a growing number of students refusing the math tests in nearly every Dutchess County district.
State math tests started Wednesday, about a week after some local districts saw more than 40 percent of their students refuse a round of state English Language Arts tests.

A conservative estimate shows more than 5,000 Dutchess students refused last week's ELA tests: at least 27 percent of about 18,400 plus public school students in grades 3-8, according to a Journal analysis of refusal numbers and enrollment data.

That's up from 2014, when less than 1,100 students in the county refused ELA tests.

It's a trend seen across the state: at least 184,000 students refused ELA exams, according to United to Counter, an activist group that has been tallying test refusals and is opposed to Common Core.

But officials report that even more students are refusing the math tests.

Wappingers mom Tracy Amenta said "the absurdity" of the ELA tests, which her son took this year, prompted her to have him refuse the math tests.

Her son, a seventh-grade Van Wyck student, was never anxious taking exams, she said. But on day one of the ELA assessments, he became "frustrated by the actual test and...the wording and questions," she said. He was also upset because "most of his friends" had refused the ELA tests.

And the Times-Union:

State math tests began Wednesday, and many of the students who opted out of the Common Core exams are sitting out again this week.

Many Capital Region districts reported slightly more students refused to take the math tests than sat out last week's English Language Arts test. The math assessments will wrap up with a final day of testing for grades 3 to 8 on Friday.

In previous years, state math tests have had higher refusal rates than the ELA exams, so the increase was expected, officials from area school districts said.

But the percentage at Mohonasen schools in Rotterdam, which posted the highest Capital Region opt-out numbers last week with 55 percent of students refusing state ELA tests, jumped to 60.6 percent as the first day of math testing came to a close. District spokesperson Adrienne Leon said 71 more students opted out on Wednesday.

"We had a good system in place last week, so we were ready today for it again," she said.
The opt-out percentages for districts in Bethlehem, Albany and Schenectady also increased by at least 5 percent from last week's numbers in each district.

United To Counter The Core had this update this morning:

ELA: 190k; Math: 34k and rising... (yes, we know it's anticlimactic. But it takes time to get the numbers. Stay tuned...)

Right now our numbers come from news reports, administrators, union representatives, teachers, and other individuals inside the schools who are willing to give us information. We will verify these numbers by FOIA letters beginning immediately after the math tests.

Watch… for these headcount totals to rise throughout the week, and keep an eye over the next month or so for the FOIA numbers to come in!

These math counts United To Counter The Core has are very, very preliminary - these numbers are going to rise sharply as we get more information.

The Van Wyck student who took the ELA exam, became frustrated by the actual test...and the wording and questions..." and then opted out of the math exam is most telling.

While only anecdotal, that story suggests that all the propaganda the Endless Test regime proponents are throwing out there to convince parents to have their kids take the tests isn't going to work when the tests are designed to frustrate students and have a high failure rate.

More and more, parents are learning just how rigged these exams are (as opposed to "rigorous.)

They're designed for high student failure rates, they're designed to make the system look like its failing, they're designed to make teachers look like they're failing  - but in the end, the Endless Testing regime is failing as more and more people opt out of it.

More as we get it.