I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Son of Mario = Governor Goofus?

Dear lord, what is the Son of Mario thinking?
Gov. Cuomo in a statement accused Assembly Democrats, led by Speaker Sheldon Silver, of putting the interests of the teachers unions before the students.
Cuomo singled out the Assembly Dems for what he deemed a faulty 2010 teacher evaluation law passed in order to qualify for federal Race To The Top funds.
The law required that a new teacher evaluation system be subject to negotiations between each local district and their teacher unions.
The city recently lost millions of dollars after failing to reach a deal with the union by the end-of-the-year deadline.
“The Assembly-led legislation in 2010 protected the teachers union at the expense of the students and instituted a system that was destined to fail,” Cuomo said.
So anything that is good for teachers is a priori bad for students? This is what you're saying?

Where has this insane notion come from? Who decided that teachers are now the enemies of children? And who is nuts enough to think that it's a winning political strategy to paint the very people who have dedicated their lives to teaching children as the bane of public education? Who is the Son of Mario emulating?

Oh - that guy. Yeah he's a real role model, all right. After all, he patterned his career after another real winner...

This is stupid beyond belief, both as a matter of policy and as politics. Cuomo is eating Arne Duncan's Race To The Top nonsense with a spoon, even though Duncan is completely incoherent on these issues. In the process, he insults every teacher in New York, hitches his reformy wagon to the failed policy of judging teachers with standardized tests, and even alienates parents in the process.

Parents? Yep:
Earlier Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was cheered at a rally of the Alliance for Quality Education, a group of parents, educators and union members that advocate for higher state aid for school districts with the greatest needs, including New York City's district.
Silver, a lower Manhattan Democrat, said he "respectfully disagrees" with Cuomo's shot across the bow in his State of the State speech last week at AQE and other school advocates. Cuomo said then that no one lobbies for kids, only for adults, and that he will become the students' lobbyist.
"The most powerful lobbying group for our students is our parents," Silver said.
Oh, snap! Well, Cuomo deserved that for being such a jerk last week. When you're arrogant enough to say that you are the real advocate for kids, and bus drivers are only in it for themselves, you deserve everything you get.

And if governors like Cuomo continue to listen to Duncan and insist on pushing unreliable, inconsistent standardized tests as a part of teacher evaluations, they will be tied up in the courts, probably for years. They can huff and puff all they want, but the facts are not in dispute, and they will have only themselves to blame for the legal quagmire in which they'll mire their state.

Not to menton all the parents who do not want their kids spending their entire school day drilling and killing.

Again, Governor Cuomo, you have a choice. Governor Jerry Brown of California is standing up to this nonsense:
Governor Brown first made waves regarding education when, as State Attorney General, he wrote ascathing letter to Arne Duncan in response to Race to the Top.
He sent another strong signal this spring, when his May Budget Outline made it clear he feels testing is out of control. He wrote then:
Testing takes huge amounts of time from classroom instruction. Data collection requirements are cumbersome and do not provide timely - and therefore usable - information back to schools. Teachers are forced to cub their own creativity and engagement with students as they focus on teaching to the test. State and federal administrators continue to centralize teaching authority far from the classroom.

In vetoing SB 547, Brown has taken the strongest stance yet. His entire statement is availablehere, at the Answer Sheet blog. The proposed law,Senate Bill 547 was drafted to mitigate some of the more onerous aspects of the state's Academic Performance Index (API) system, replacing it with something called the Education Quality Index. It appears that this index would score schools based not only on test scores, but also graduation rates, college preparedness and career readiness. Governor Brown asserted, however, that these changes did not go nearly far enough. He wrote,

SB547 nowhere mentions good character or love of learning. It does allude to student excitement and creativity, but does not take these qualities seriously because they can't be placed in a data stream. Lost in the bill's turgid mandates is any recognition that quality is fundamentally different from quantity.
Now that's what I call being an advocate for children. You could do the same; or, you could continue to bash teachers like your Republican buddy across the Hudson. Your choice.

Who does the Son of Mario want to be?

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