Governor Cuomo, you have a choice here, and you have two role models for your choice:
Governor Goofus of New Jersey only had ONE working teacher on his task force. Worse, he included people who had no training, experience, knowledge, or even a stake in teacher evaluation systems design.
Governor Gallant of California, however, took advantage of a scandal within the Commission on Teacher Credentialing to clean house and appoint actual teachers. Who do you think is going to get better buy-in from the teachers of his state?
Governor Cuomo, would you rather be known as Governor Goofus or Gallant?
Sadly, we all watched for the next twelve months as Cuomo devolved into the the worst kind of reformy, neo-liberal traitor to public education. I kept hoping against hope that he would have a change of heart, but this past week he pretty much declared that there is no turning back from his reformy ways:
Assembly Democrats are strongly opposed to Gov. Cuomo’s decision to impose a second strings-attached deadline on the city to approve a teacher evaluation plan.
The chamber’s Democrats — a majority of whom represent city districts — fear children could once again suffer as a result of Cuomo’s call to put another $224 million in state education aid on the line in the evaluation war.
City schools lost $450 million in state and federal funding when Mayor Bloomberg and city teachers union President Michael Mulgrew failed to reach agreement on an evaluation plan by a Jan. 17 deadline. Now, Cuomo has set a new deadline of Sept. 1, and his 2013-14 budget plan will yank $224 million in planned aid to city schools if it is not met.
It doesn't - and nether does this cockamamie teacher evaluation nonsense, built on a VAM system that is a statistical and educational train wreck. As the real educators of New York understand, using test scores to evaluate teachers is unfair and counterproductive. The teachers unions have given up more than they should to reach a deal with the state; however, when the UFT made the smallest of moves to protect its members from the ravages of VAM, Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw a hissy fit. That's all Cuomo needed to withdraw hundreds of millions from the city's school budget, causing untold harm to NYC's children.
“I thought he was going to be the lobbyist for the students,” a city-based Assembly Democrat cracked, making light of Cuomo’s boast from his 2012 State of the State address. “How does taking money away from school programs help the kids?” [emphasis mine]
I'll give Bloomberg at least this much: even if he is acting like an ass, he understands that punishing children is a truly awful reaction to his failure to work out a deal with the UFT. If Cuomo were any kind of statesman, he would have held off on the posturing and instead worked to bring the two sides together. He wouldn't be threatening to cut programs for kids; he'd be listening to the people closest to the students and working out a deal that spoke to their concerns.
The problem is that Cuomo has lost all credibility with the teachers and parents of New York. He refuses to listen to the criticisms of VAM by NYC teachers like Gary Rubinstein. He refuses to hear the rational arguments of veteran principals like Carol Burris and over 1500 of her colleagues. He refuses to put teachers on his advisory committees on education (but he installs two representatives of Citibank!). He refuses to address the truly frightening privacy concerns of parents like Leonie Haimson.
Perhaps worst of all: he perpetuates the gross inequities in New York State's school financing system:
Did they cut back just a little from their target? Oh… say… give districts about 90% or 80% (uh… that would actually be a lot of cut) of what the formula said they needed? Nope. They went much deeper than that. In fact, as I showed in one recent post, as student population needs escalate (according to the state’s own Pupil Need Index) under-funding with respect to foundation targets grows in some cases to over $4,000 per pupil and in New York City to over $3,000 per pupil. [emphasis mine]And yet Andrew Cuomo has the unmitigated gall to say that he cares more about New York's children than their teachers do.
Some may say that Cuomo is simply bluffing: that there's just no way he'll go through with holding back monies from the city. Perhaps - but there may be another end game that Cuomo has in mind:
Don't laugh, New Yorkers: over on this side of the Hudson, cities have been living under the yoke of state control for years. Of course, white people are allowed to run their own schools - for now...
I wonder if Cuomo looks over at Chris Christie's chokehold on New Jersey's urban schools and feels jealous. I wonder if Christie is Cuomo's role model for how to take over a state's education system and smooth the way for privatization, all with the blessing of Arne Duncan and the Obama administration.
Cuomo could have patterned his education policies after California's Jerry Brown, a real Democrat and a real champion of public education:
Ah, Andrew - that could have been you. But you, Son of Mario, chose to be Goofus, and not Gallant. But don't worry - New York's teachers and parents won't forget your threats any time soon...
Michelle Rhee says there's nothing to see here...
City educators gave out answers to state test questions, inflated Regents exam scores, and coached students to change incorrect responses dozens of times in recent years, according to reports from a slew of investigations into test improprieties.
Responding to a Freedom of Information Law request by GothamSchools for information about complaints about test security, the Department of Education released 97 reports from investigations that concluded violations had taken place. The reports were completed between 2006 and 2012 by the Department of Education’s Office of Special Investigations and the independent Special Commissioner of Investigation.
Thirty-eight of the reports documented relatively minor violations of administrative protocol. In multiple cases, for example, investigators found that teachers had photocopied exam books when there were too few before getting official permission.But 59 of the reports substantiated allegations about cheating, some of them serious.