Andrew Cuomo to New York State: Your Teachers Stink. I Will Fire Them. I will Break Their Union.

The gauntlet that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch picked up with their public correspondence in December has been thrown down.  The Governor announced his plans to revamp and revise education in New York with his State of the State address on January 21st, and it was accompanied by a book detailing his policy proposals.  On teacher evaluation, Governor Cuomo is delivering a massive change — and a direct challenge to community control of their teacher workforce.  If the governor gets his way, 50% of teachers’ evaluations will be controlled by students’ annual progress on standardized tests, and no teacher rated “ineffective” in either half of the evaluation will be scored higher than “developing.”   The other 50% of annual evaluations will be comprised of two observations, one by a school administrator and another by an “independent observer” in the form of an administrator from another district or a state approved outside agency.  The so-called “independent observer” observation will count for 35% of the evaluation.  Local administrators are to be restricted to 15%.

New York State principals?  Andrew Cuomo says you cannot do your jobs.  New York State communities?  Nobody in your town is qualified to evaluate your children’s teachers.  Andrew Cuomo wants to take that away for Albany.

Governor Cuomo insists that these draconian measures are necessary because only a third of New York students scored as proficient or highly proficient on the new Common Core aligned standardized examinations, and by his logic that means the teacher evaluation system, which currently weights the results of those exams for 20%, is “baloney” because only 1% of teachers were found ineffective.  However, tying a criticism of the teacher ineffectiveness to the CCSS aligned exams is flagrantly mendacious because “proficient” was never tied to “grade level” or “passing”;  it was tied to SAT scores loosely predictive of college success.

Governor Cuomo’s teacher evaluation plan is set to punish teachers for not graduating vastly more students ready to succeed in college, as measured by one test score, than currently attend college.

What can reasonably be predicted as an outcome of this?  Plenty.  And none of it will be pretty.

First, this policy will fall heavily upon districts with high levels of poverty which are tightly concentrated because of New York’s appallingly high Residential Income Segregation Index.  We know from disaggregated PISA data that schools with high levels of poverty struggle in standardized test achievement compared to schools in affluent communities. Following Governor Cuomo’s logic it is not that these schools and their teachers struggle with the long established deprivations of poverty upon their student population and would benefit from aggressive plans of economic renewal and integration; it is that their teachers are ineffective and need to be fired.

Second, no teacher in New York will be actually safe no matter how good they are or how talented their students.  The value-added models (VAMs) of teacher performance based on standardized tests are by now subject to so much research demonstrating their unreliability that using them at all is indefensible.  The American Statistical Association (ASA) warned last year that teacher input can only account for 1-14% of student variability on standardized tests, and VAM generated rankings of teachers are not stable, meaning a teacher can be in the top 20% in one year and slide below the median in a subsequent year.  If you think that your child attending a selective public school with a math teacher whose students all pass a challenging algebra examination will have that teacher spared via VAMs — think again.  Teachers who are excellent by every other conceivable model of assessment can be rated as the “worst” grade level teacher in New York City via value-added modeling.

And Governor Cuomo wants that to be 50% of teacher evaluations.

The predictable outcome of this will be an objectively worse education for nearly every student in the state.  Consequences from the No Child Left Behind law’s focus on test-based accountability include a steady narrowing of school curricula to subjects that are tested, leaving science, the social studies, the arts, and health as dwindling portions of public eduction.  Teaching to the test as is common practice in “no excuses” charter schools will become a prominent methodology in historically struggling schools, and it will grow in currently successful schools as well.  Teachers and administrators will have little choice — with so much riding on VAMs that unstable and able to find teachers of advanced students in the bottom 10% of teachers, test preparation as curriculum will spread.  Further, as experienced teachers are pushed out, the teacher workforce will become younger, assuming that New York State schools can possibly entice new teachers to start a career under these conditions.  These will be novices whose classroom skills will be on a steep learning curve for their early years, and many of them will be forced out by VAMs before reaching the point where their skills start to level off.

A less experienced teacher workforce teaching more and more to the test — THAT is the likely outcome of Governor Cuomo’s evaluation proposals.  There will also be no local measure that can preserve a teacher in his or her job because the only local component of the evaluation system – local administrator observations – will be restricted to 15%.  Are you a principal whose teachers work in underfunded facilities with students who live in poverty?  Tough.  Are you a parent whose child’s teacher works with gifted students in a curriculum accelerated 2-3 years beyond the test?  Tough.  Are you a school board member who wants to preserve the social studies, sciences, art, music, and health?  Tough.  85% of your teachers’ evaluations are outside the input of any local stakeholders; Albany will be in control.  And Governor Cuomo will hold nearly three quarters of a potential increase in aid for schools hostage unless he gets his way.

It is impossible to not connect the dots here.  Among Governor Cuomo’s most reliable donors are Wall Street supporters of charter school expansion who can turn such schools into revenue streams for private corporations using public money.  Charter schools, among whose strongest supporters at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently admitted are in the business of pushing out harder to educate children, have been turned into a way to monetize our public education budgets.  Governor Cuomo, who raised half of his $40 million election war chest from just 341 donors, owes that sector.

The only entity with enough members and resources to resist that is the NYSUT.

Most of Governor Cuomo’s teacher evaluation plans (and his other education proposals) will make our schools objectively worse places to learn with many fewer experienced teachers and a diminishing curriculum.  However, they will make the teachers’ union much weaker with an unstable and uncertain cadre of members who have less experience and no practical job security — and who will not be able to effectively resist more and more of our public schools turned over to private interests.

Everything about this is wrong.

74 Comments

Filed under Corruption, New York Board of Regents, politics, schools, Testing, Unions

74 responses to “Andrew Cuomo to New York State: Your Teachers Stink. I Will Fire Them. I will Break Their Union.

  1. Dave Smith

    This is incredible. Every teacher now in New York State should become a conscientious objector to the tests and APPR and refuse to participate. Every single one. And if every administrator back them up, there’d be no choice but to halt the madness that is these reform policies.

    • Something certainly has to happen. My biggest fear is that suburban parents have the ability to beat this back along with CCSS and PARCC, but when that is done, we will go back to ignoring urban education again when the opportunity would be to really get at root causes of inequity. It will be a terrible waste of opportunity if we ONLY succeed in halting these policies.

    • I am so incredibly thankful my children will be entering 9th & 12th grade next year… we’ve stayed in NYS because of the education here vs other states, but if this goes through, that will drastically change & I don’t want my girls a part of it. His “draconian” measures are stupid, ridiculous, artogant & pompous. I hope NY finds a way to shoot thus down… I love our district & I LOVE our teachers. So sad. :/

    • heidi w

      Andrew Cuomo– an ignorant bully.

  2. Daniel, as a Board member in the city that has become the poster child for “failing” school districts in the State, I thank you for a cogent and reasoned assessment of proposed educational “reform” that is neither. The Governor, in a graphic (actually stunning) illustration of the old adage, “politics make strange bedfellows” has joined with Carl Paladino and his cohorts who advocate the “disassembling” of the Buffalo Public Schools; label our students as failures; demonize our teachers; and champion the myth of the redemptive abilities of charter schools.

    • Thank you for your comment and for your perseverance in the face of all of this. It is beyond my understanding how corruption of this level has become so ingrained. 100s of 1000s of teachers and millions of students materially harmed in pursuit of Wall Street interests!

    • EVEN STRANGER: On the national level, the call to repeal Common Core has made allies out of the Washington State Democratic Committee and the hard-right wing GOP sponsors of not one but two US Senate bills meant to kill Common Core and restore “local control”: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Chuck Grassley, Jim Inhofe, Pat Roberts, Richard Shelby, Mike Crapo and others….

  3. What would you suggest that we should do next? Teachers are scared and angry and Mulgrew wants us to continue to tweet.

    • Well, tweeting is a visibility issue, but there needs to be massive phone banking and letter writing to Albany. Politicians still respond to that as each letter representing a number of other constituents.

      Parents need to learn, though. People don’t understand that VAM is junk. They don’t know the research on the results of high stakes accountability. They think their kids in good schools will protect the teachers they know.

      I’m going to be trying to get out PTA educated — we need other parents to do the same where they are.

      • As you know, I am all for social media and i really don’t min that but of course there has to be more and organized quickly. You are absolutely correct.

    • I think Cuomo has decided that breaking NYSUT is his “Sister Souljah” moment, only instead of it being a calculated and cynical move to impress voters, it is also deeply personal. NYSUT is not a reliable election ally. His donors want it broken for their own reasons. And Cuomo is just a petty enough brute to enjoy taking this personally.

      We need to make genuinely progressive forces in the Assembly and Senate hear us. Tweeting may be a nice start, but there needs to be more. The union has 600,000 eligible voters. That still counts for something, but it cannot waste its time sharing a foxhole with people measuring its boots for their own feet.

      • Connor Hannan

        Read your article Daniel — I teach down in Philadelphia. Just look at what has happened to us… but more importantly, think about the impact the destruction of public schools has had on the children. It has already been years dismantling and destroying, and we have many more to come. Good luck in your efforts to fight it. If anyone can NY can!

  4. Jeremy Y

    10 years ago, my wife and I moved to Texas. As an airline pilot, it meant less commuting if I lived in base. We both miss the seasons and the beauty of upstate NY. Plans had been made to move back. Two major things have stopped us: taxation and education.

    There is no state income tax in Texas yet the infrastructure is much more sound. The major issue is property tax in New York State. Even without a state income tax, a similarly priced house as ours in Texas would be close to triple the cost in New York.

    And for what?

    A broken school system with a mafia boss governor that is either a complete and utter buffoon, or has already sold his soul to the early bidders. My wife is a school teacher. She did her undergrad and masters in NY and taught there for the first 5 years. After 10 years in Texas, she makes more than if we were to move back to NY, and she does not face the demonization that NY teachers surely soon will.

    People will continue to leave this place of lunacy. Feel free to come to Texas. Summers are hot, winters are great. Cost of living will decrease by 15-20%, and your governor is not a complete maroon.

    I’d love to move our family and purchasing power back to the NY economy, but for now we will just visit from time to time.

    • MB

      Jeremy – I’m no fan of Andrew Como, but to call him a mafia boss just because he is of Italian descent is prejudicial and reduces the importance of the valid points you raise in your reply. I think we all can express our opinions without name-calling.

  5. Lovelle Ruggiero

    Please show me where Andrew Cuomo said that New York State teachers stink.

    • His whole stance is that we must fire many more teachers. That is not a stance one takes while thinking glowingly of the work they do.

      • Has the Governor thought about who is going to replace these teachers he is going to fire? Does he realize that not many individuals want to be teachers these days…primarily because of the low pay, lack of discipline in the schools, the red tape and idiots like him?

  6. Michele Brockner

    Would you mind if I put this in our union newsletter? My members ALL need to read this.

  7. Christina Sweeney

    Great post – I appreciate the detail and links. As a NY state teacher one of my concerns right now is that nowhere near a majority of NYS teachers are affected by this shift. The teachers sitting in the crosshairs are 3-8 ELA and math teachers since we are all linked to our student test scores on flawed tests. This isn’t affecting other teachers’ APPR scores in the same way. I heard only 20% are directly affected by VAM. I suspect things will change and won’t be surprised when Albany decides to make everyone take the scores, as has happened elsewhere. But, in the meantime, am I missing something?

    • Katherine Meierjurgen

      The effect that it has on secondary school teachers in my district is that the state test scores that we are evaluated on may not be our content area. I teach Spanish, but it is the results from the 3 times a year STAR tests in ELA and Math that are used for our APPR. How my teaching ability can be assessed by looking at a student’s math scores, I have yet to figure out.

  8. bmarshall

    Cuomo refuses to visit public schools to see what teachers do. He refuses to recognize the heart and passion that teachers have for their profession and for the children that they work with every day. He won’t listen to the parents of children in public schools regarding the over use and abuse of state standardized tests. He has complete disregard for the 90% of children who attend public schools. He is a bully pure and simple. It is too bad that a generation of children here in NY will suffer under this man’s apparent delusional disorder. Definition–Non-bizarre delusions are fixed false beliefs that involve situations that could potentially occur in real life. — It certainly will be a sad state of affairs if our elected representatives follow down this path behind a man who has set a path for the destruction of public education.

    • Stefanie

      Not defending him, but he did come and visit Mineola Middle school in the fall, mainly to see how they use technology in the school.
      I am a teacher in NYC. I’m in a good school we have a large ELL population but some of those children have parents who can not read or speak English therefore many times these children do not make as much progress as they should if they were to get help from a parent.
      you are right he needs to come into more classrooms and actully see what a teacher does and deals with. He should visit good and struggling districts.

  9. Marylin

    I was born and raised in NY. I’ve moved and teach in Florida. I read comments like this and ills me. How can a Governor be so far removed from reality? Teachers have and will always be committed to their students. To judge a teacher on merrily a test score or a couple of observations is ludicrous. Common Core Standards are being implemented but to correlate low score to ineffective teaching is just wrong. You need to give teacher time, resources, support in order to successfully help them teach new standards. But instead far removed politicians criticize teachers and negate everything they do for our children every day. Governor Coumo you should be ashamed of yourself. I miss home but sadly I am thankful I am not living there. I’d never want to live in a state that does not believe or support their service professionals.

  10. Judy Ornstein

    Thank you for this post, as well as the other posts linked to it. As you have given permission to others to repost, I am doing so as well.

  11. Kristen

    Thank you for this post. I work as a teacher in an underprivileged school district and this spoken my exact strife.

  12. Lisa Jeschke

    Well said- as a teacher and active member of NYSUT, I have a slightly different opinion on one statement- that NYSUT is the only group able to resist this. We need to go beyond relying on NYSUT to deal with this. Far more powerful than hearing from a group the governor clearly does not value or respect, would be to hear from parents, community members, and anyone who cares about the children of New York. We all need to join together to fight for our children’s future. Now is the time to act before it is too late.

    • Lisa,

      Thank you — I agree parents are the key, but educators need to make sure they understand. I am furiously lobbying the PTAs for my children’s schools to learn about this and confront Albany…

  13. Barbara Zautner

    The elephant in the room here is parent apathy. Where in the governor’s plan do parents come in? In his obnoxious commercial before the election, he stated that the best place to learn is at the kitchen table with a parent present. In less affluent districts this often doesn’t ever happen. Parents need to read to their babies from infancy and encourage a love of learning and respect for educational opportunity. I don’t see this happening nearly often enough!

  14. Amy Warren

    I teach a K-2 special needs class with students w severe disabilities. I’m confused how I will be affected by this- my students are battling challenges and making huge progress by learning to speak, make eye contact, sit and attend…you get my point. How will Cuomo measure this?? I challenge him to spend one day in my classroom- toilet children, use feeding tubes and help Autistic students through major meltdowns. Where do special educators like me fall in all of this??

    • My understanding is that Cuomo wants some other measures in place to make sure subjects and grades not currently tested by PARCC will be subjected to some form of accountability via annual progress. What those measures will be and how far down the chain into classrooms with severe disabilities is only guesswork now, but given the man in charge, I have no hope for something reasonable.

    • Trinity

      Amy, I hope you don’t end up on the same path of nightmares we had to. I am a K-6 intense intervention teacher (yes K-6), most of my students have moderate to severe disabilities. In Indiana, we have lost most of protections and seen our pay and benefits slashed, tenure is long dead as you can be replaced at the drop of a pin by a “cheaper” just out of school new teacher.

      This all started with a huge campaign by the Republicans in charge, to demonize us teachers as “greedy lazy union thugs” (and it worked, the public fell for it). We are now on merit pay (which is a sham, as the districts do not have the money for raises) and I am evaluated using one of the state approved tools. The problem is, it’s meant for gen ed. My students are expected to tell the evaluator what they are learning and rate themselves on their progress…seriously? To say the least, lots of special education teachers are not fairing well and it becomes of game of politics/favorites, whether the supervisor likes you or not. If they like you, you’re “highly effective”, if not, well might as well find another teaching job are seniority rules are long dead anyway.

  15. Dee

    We need to get the UAW, the CSEA and any other union to join forces with us and picket and fill our politicians’ mailboxes with letters opposing these insane “reforms.” These union people are concerned about union busting, too. They are taxpayers and parents and voters. We all know what this is really about so we need to join forces and hit them with everything we have.

  16. Susan Sherman

    Between the indictment of Sheldon Siver and his disbanding of The Moreland Commission, a commission he set up to investigate corruption in our state, he’s in full bully mode. As I tell my 4th graders, bullies are really cowards, they just wear bully clothes. Emperor Cuomo’s new clothes are ill fitting and threadbare.

  17. Donna Prentiss

    Parents need to unite, not just in New York. This insanity is going on in every state. If people can unite over police brutality across the states why not to save our education system and our children from this injustice.

  18. SATURDAY, JANUARY 24, 2015
    Alarming!!! How did Cuomo get reelected?
    ANDREW CUOMO TO NEW YORK STATE: YOUR TEACHERS STINK. I WILL FIRE THEM. I WILL BREAK THEIR UNION.
    HOW DARE HE! THE COMMENTS OF THIS MAN ARE OFFENSIVE AND DETRIMENTAL TO THE LOW MORALE THAT ALREADY EXISTS IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK.

    Like Bloomberg before him, I invite you, Mr, Cuomo to take a week, if you can last that long teaching in one of our public schools. Choose anywhere: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens… I want to see how long you will last trying to reach every single student regardless of reading level, new to the city with no English and some having received no formal education from the country they come,

    I would love to see you constantly going to new professional developments where the only thing we are learning is to follow an impossible Danielson rubric and are being ripped apart because of it.
    No development to help with those needy students that require special attention and cannot receive it because there is one teacher to 30, all of whom have learning styles that differ from one another.

    Our measly paychecks go into professional courses that actually help in finding new solutions to reach every student, The DOE nor the state Department do not facilitate this for us. It comes from our pockets. And, guess what, I have two children a mortgage and a car note. I also have to feed and clothe them,

    Yet, I still take online courses devoted to the Common Core, differentiation, and Danielson. Whoever found her to be the end all be all is insane and not an educated person.

    Let me continue with the fact that I sponsor underprivileged students who cannot even afford a notebook or a pen. This year, I am sponsoring a graduating student who not only hasn’t got the means but who lives in a shelter. I had never spent so much money since my own two girls graduated.

    Don’t get me stated on Teacher’s choice. Every year it dwindles. Last year was a joke; this year we received $77. This is meant to supplement the hundreds we already spend on our students.

    My favorite line form the article was:
    “Governor Cuomo’s teacher evaluation plan is set to punish teachers for not graduating vastly more students ready to succeed in college, as measured by one test score, than currently attend college.”

    Not all students want to go to college. Do you want to do the right thing: bring back specialized schools that allow students to earn certificates and upon graduation enter the work force. I had a great student several years ago with a 3.50 gpa. Guess what was her dream? She wanted to be a mechanic!

    My next point of contention shows how little you know about the inner city:
    “Following Governor Cuomo’s logic it is not that these schools and their teachers struggle with the long established deprivations of poverty upon their student population and would benefit from aggressive plans of economic renewal and integration; it is that their teachers are ineffective and need to be fired.

    Have you ever heard of gaps? Gaps that need to be closed so that black and latinos can catch up to their suburban counterparts. Even in the suburbs you will fin these disparities!

    You are so out of touch, Mr. Cuomo, You really need a reality check! I am personally inviting you to my high school; if you dare. Come in as a visitor, not as the Governor of the State of New York. Maybe then you will see how hard we work reaching every student and giving the best of ourselves.

  19. Teacher Spouse

    I am not a troll, but married to a teacher nearing the end of career from a poor district who might not weather this storm and forwarded me this thread since it could obviously affect our situation.

    Of course Cuomo is controlled by monied interests on Wall Street. Which politician, Democrat or Republican, isn’t? The fact that NYSUT leadership, let alone membership believes differently about Republicrats, doesn’t bode well for current and future students learning about governance and the very real opportunity to bust those two major parties and delete corporatism from the equation. But NYSUT likes to keep sending Democrats to Albany and Washington and these same Democrats like to not only encourage, but also reward failure by virtue of every social program they can think of. It’s a way of life to sit back and do nothing for 2.5 generations since Johnson’s Great Society because Big Government, whether it has the money, or not, will take care of these people from cradle to grave. Where exactly is the incentive for the often times single parents who view each kid as another monthly stipend?

    Whether it is NYSUT, CSEA, AFSCME or any other government union, the system has become unsustainable for those with the money and they’ve found a friends in Cuomo here, Scott Walker there, Bushes and Clintons everywhere.

    There are only so many millionaires and billionaires in this country right? 1% is it? And who are they? Hollywood Actors, Rock Stars, Professional Athletes, Lawyers, Doctors, Bankers, Technologists, some, but not all, private sector C-Suites and yes, union leaders too. They can’t keep being told they need to relinquish more and more of their money to bail out decades of government dependency and countless unassimilated third-world immigrants whether they are here legally or illegally.

  20. Pingback: New York Parents Alert: Sample Letter For Your PTA | Daniel Katz, Ph.D.

  21. Gino Mari

    I’m curious about how much it will cost the taxpayers to hire an outside firm–that I’m sure will be a subsidiary of Pearson –to evaluate our teachers?

  22. Ken Stoker

    It is with a great sadness that I read about the Governor’s obvious ignorance as to the potential consequences of these forthcoming measures against public education. New York was once a leader; the New York State Regents Examination program used to be held up as exemplary…but it appears that Mr. Cuomo wants to destroy our public education system which promoted high achievement for both teachers and students.

    It is imperative that each of us schedules an individual appointment with our state representatives to personally voice our opposition and concern. I would encourage everyone to start calling his representatives immediately.

  23. Reblogged this on mizsallyspeaks and commented:
    This lays it out . FYI the common Core test was administered before teachers had access to curriculum. As ever, once students begin to succeed as a cohort on standardized tests, the bar is arbitrarily raised to create a false crisis. So the politicians restok a fire about blaming teachers without addressing real inequalities: Income, healthcare, stability

  24. Marvin Zehr

    It is ghastly ironic that Andrew Cuomo insists that an Anti-Bullying program is a critical component to address in our school system, yet he is that same tactic to derail unions and forgo due process. Does he know anything about PUBLIC Education? We should all be fighting mad. He needs to be deported to middle class.

  25. J. Sicherman

    Thank you, Dr. Katz, for speaking out so clearly and forcefully on his subject. As a teacher with over 20 years of experience, I have watched with great sadness the demise of our public schools–not because of low test scores or apathetic teachers, but because of the endless demonization of the dedicated professionals who do this difficult work each and every day.

    The truth is, most of the politicians and pundits who attack teachers wouldn’t last a year in the classroom, to say nothing of making teaching their life’s work. If teaching were easy, 50% of new teachers wouldn’t leave the profession within the first five years–which they do.

    Teachers are not miracle workers. My grandmother, who taught throughout the 1950s and 1960s in a high-poverty city plagued by crime and unrest, was not a miracle worker. Not all of her students went on to attend college. Some did not even graduate from high school. A few may even have turned to lives of crime.

    But they certainly did not blame her for the way their lives had turned out. They knew she had given them the very best she had, day in and day out, and that she believed in them, even when they sometimes did not believe in themselves. And when my grandmother would see these former students, years later, passing on the street or in the supermarket, they would greet her warmly and thank her for all she had done for them: sometimes because of how their lives had turned out, but often in spite of how their lives had turned out.

    That heartfelt gratitude–that is the true evaluation of a teacher. The junk science of VAM is not evaluation. Nor are the petty minutiae of the Danielson rubric. Nor are the vindictive machinations of a corrupt politician.

    The situation is grave. Time is short. I believe that public education worthy of the name will survive or fall depending on the willingness of teachers, administrators, and Boards of Education at the local level to stand up and refuse to facilitate this governor’s radically destructive agenda.

    I thank you again, Dr. Katz, for your support of teachers and the challenging work we do every day.

  26. Gail Shneyer Nussbaum

    How can it be that Cuomo and his cronies never address what all teachers and parents know; That children, just like adults, vary in their learning styles and abilities. Before Cuomo continues with his follies perhaps he should reverse his direction and try to solve a basic problem. How do we educate those children who come to school without early intervention programs to boost their skills, without parental involvement, born with drug exposure, and little hope to rise above poverty? Unless we stop in our tracks and evaluate why it is that children are failing nothing will change.

    Does the Governer really believe that NYS teachers are incompetent ? It is my belief that the sooner he recognizes how important it is to admit that not every student is an academic, that IQ is a factor in success, that parents and teachers will have a huge burden removed from their shoulders.

    It is time to promote honesty and equality in Education. We need to evaluate children to determine their interests and talents, to remediate those who need remediation and to recognize those whose other issues may affect their ability to learn. Only when we accept that there are circumstances which make learning difficult for some can we find a way to stop placing blame and start making inroads in education.

    Don’t tear our system down, build it up!

  27. AMarinelli

    My sister is a public school teacher in NYS, who has had her job eliminated from 2 different districts in 7 years, due to budget cuts. When I moved out of NY 13 years ago to Boston, I mocked all the Mass residents about their MCAS debacle. Now reading about legislation that will affect my family and friends so much (not only my teacher friends, but friends whose children attend NY schools), it breaks my heart to know that all of these lives and love for learning are hanging in the balance over a few bucks. My sister wanted to be a teacher since she was 3…how can you evaluate that kind of passion and tenacity? Hoping the unions and the communities succeed in fighting back!

  28. I see the concern but there’s too much whining without coming up with any possible solution. If X doesn’t work then help to amend it and produce a better system. Sure, we could sit back and bitch about everything when it finally comes time to change things, we do what? Strike? Not working is the opposite of what would help education in New York to become better. Come up with a solution that better evaluates the situation or stop whining that you didn’t have a fair shake because other people spent time thinking of what needs to be fixed.

    • amerigus

      A better system for NY was in place before NCLB and Common Core. The plan, proposed already in multiple US Senate bills last month, is to restore local control of schools, including a repeal of Common Core and an end to federally mandated annual standardized tests. It’s not legal in NY to strike, but protests are already being organized, and the big push has already started to publicize a giant statewide opt-out of the testing this Spring.

      Political solutions are hard to implement in this climate, because rich donors have bought off the US Congress and the majority of the NY senate and Assembly. So we have a political climate of austerity – cuts to school funding, attacking pensions, enriching private contractors. But educationally speaking, we have vast numbers on our side – from educators to parents to students. So we just need to get the word out, educate folks like this article does, and join together to regain local control of our schools so Wall Street doesn’t exploit them.

      • Local control of school will definately not help impoverished or inner cities schools. It’s not legal to strike but it can be done with a large fine. You’re still not coming up with an answer. We need solutions not “this stinks”.

  29. Paul Durgala

    I’m a music teacher myself. I am affected by the new APPR, but I don’t administer ELA or math tests. I hope the new assembly is investigating whether or not these tests are even valid measurements. I don’t know much about the math tests but what I’ve seen of the ELA tests concerns me very much. It would be wrong to hinge our careers and the future of our children on flawed tests.

  30. P. Kavanagh

    I would still love to see the Governor and Board of Regents take the exams my students take in seventh grade in the time frame mandated. Then I would love to see their scores when graded. Would they be proficient?

  31. Patty Nisiewicz

    It is interesting to note that most teachers 3-8 do not have access to the state tests their students took. So how do teachers study questions to determine the possible reasons a student missed a question. Teachers need to analyze questions to determine vocabulary as an issue, question wording as a problem or lack of instruction. These are some examples. In addition, when a teacher writes a class test we know how many points a question is worth and we know what is passing. The passing score for state tests are not so cut and dry. Transparency is needed! Who in their right mind will ever want to be a teacher? RUN Far, run away from Cuomo and NYS.

  32. Denise

    Teachers: Keep giving the Dems. money through Vote-Cope.You paid for this.hahahaha

  33. Dean

    Somebody needs to tell Cuomo that acting like a Republican when you are a Democrat is a stupid move. Especially if he ever wants to get nominated to run for President.

  34. smythe

    Cuomo stinks as a governor, more than his old man did too! Time to get someone in office that doesn’t have his nose up someone’s butt that lives in NY shitty..

  35. Cuomo is a big d-bag who is being bought out by companies who are running the system. Places like Prentice Hall want to take over testing, though someone who is not certified in a course, and does spend 180 days with a student has no freaking clue about what goes on or what was discussed outside of a 3 hour test. The whole change in the APPR a couple years ago was a statistical pile of crap and it continues to get deeper.

    While some schools like the one I teach in have almost a 50 percent poverty rate, how do you expect a kid to do their homework, if they do not have a home, have no parents at home, or no food to be energized enough to do their work. I am pretty sure some of our kids come just for the free meals and the socialization, but could care less about the learning…however we as HIGHLY QUALIFIED teachers, who have MASTERS degrees, are being told we are ineffective or developing because a certain percentage of our students fail.

    A 3 hour exam should not be the determining factor by any means. I could care less of someone came and observed my class, though these things should be of a minimum value on the overall review. The system is flawed, just like the Governor himself.

  36. Dan

    That is what happens when Liberals run things!. Detroit, California, NY, Chicago. I’m fed up with NY and will soon leave this cesspool. It use to be amazing, now garbage!
    I bet another reason is because of Illegals, Those kids can not get help from their parents as they probably do not speak english and the teacher has to suffer? Flawed liberal logic. sad, very sad.

    • I am unsure what we can possibly say if you are claiming that Andrew Cuomo is a liberal — he is safely to the left on gun control and gay rights, but on education and the budget he is indistinguishable from Scott Walker.

      There are many people in this country who speak languages other than English. If they are in public school, they deserve a chance to succeed.

      • Dan

        I have to respectfully disagree with you on Cuomo.
        Yes we do have to give child a chance to succeed, but we also have to secure our country so illegals can not come here ILLEGALLY. As you can see if Cuomo has his way it will also hurt good teachers.

      • You are certainly entitled to disagree, but the reality of his policies on education are simply the opposite of liberalism.

        Your points about undocumented immigrants is not really on point for the discussion. What percentage of people who are learning English in our schools are themselves undocumented? Children born in the USA to undocumented immigrants are full American citizens themselves and entitled to their education. The young people Cuomo has suggested helping are usually a population that is technically undocumented but was brought to the USA when too young to make the choices for themselves, have remained law abiding in all other ways and stayed in school and who have no practical ties to the countries to which they would be deported if they had to leave.

        By all rights, conservatives ought to be entirely in favor of letting these young people stay, reach legal status, and continue to contribute to our society. It is only personality driven politics that rejects it.

      • Dan

        First I’m a Registered conservative Democrat, I’m not republican. Second, I do not hear all republicans saying they do not want to work out the amnesty problem. I heard that before we do anything we need to secure our borders first! How can you honestly fix something if it can continue to happen???? That tells me a lot about your political thinking. As far as Cuomo not being liberal…That is laughable. I guess you are a progressive if you think he is not liberal. I take country over any party.

        Do you have proof for your allegations about what the charter schools do? I would really like to see this. I have read UNBIASED REPORTS and see the pros and cons of both and the pros definitely out way the cons in my eyes.
        Here is one report below. I can send a few more but I have a feeling that it really wouldn’t matter.
        http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9433/index1.html

        I believe if I’m paying these ridiculous taxes for school, we should have a choice, and supposedly the Lottery takes in Millions every week, why is there a money problem? It’s all politics and until people wake up our kids will fail.

      • Dan

        I agree with you 100% I was just pointing out part of the reason tests shouldn’t be the most important to judge a teacher.

      • “Border security” is simply a different issue than how we treat people who are in the country, quite many of whom are legal citizens themselves or who have been here contributing in positive ways for many years.

        If you have read unbiased reports you’d see that the general trend for charters as a sector is that some small percentage outperform the fully public sector, a larger portion are no better, and some underperform. The reality is that it is a wash, and efforts to claim major benefits for the charter sector are almost always exaggerating very small effect sizes:

        http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-meta-analysis-effect-charter

        As for the policies of the no excuses schools that drive out certain harder to teach populations of students, one of the sector’s biggest advocates openly admitted that the schools are not there for the general education population and embraced that role:

        http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/12/10/are-charter-schools-cherry-picking-students/charters-can-do-whats-best-for-students-who-care

        But the research on how charters of that kind end up with student populations that are not random and that contain many fewer students with severe disabilities, high poverty levels, and language learning needs is also available:

        http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED515469.pdf (population differences regarding ELLs begins around page 10)

        Dr. Baker makes a fully accessible discussion here:

        https://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/what-does-the-new-york-city-charter-school-study-from-credo-really-tell-us/

        Bottom line: the charter sector in NYC serves a population of children who are less poor, have fewer language learning needs, and have fewer disabilities (most of which do not require serious intervention) and they have smaller class sizes and spend many extra hours of instruction for relatively modest gains compared to the investment. These kinds of demographic differences are not really possible by totally random means: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=17104

        As for calling Cuomo not a liberal being “laughable” well, YMMV, of course. But I freely admit that he is to the left on gay marriage and gun control. Now look at a man who has done everything he can to underfund our state schools and break the teachers’ union, and you may prefer not to describe that as conservative, which is fine — but it most assuredly is not liberal.

      • Dan

        Good day,
        I have read your linked articles and find most to not really back up your claims. The Times article is about disruptive children, basing it on that is very objective to me. I find that public schools (A lot) do not put the children first! They care more about the Union than the kids. My wife worked in a school for 18 years and the nonsense she has seen is ridiculous. They spend thousands on new furniture and then decide they do not like it and get new furniture the next year, but they do not have money for extra computers etc… My son is also a teacher, he started his first 2 years in puplic school and has changed to charter and says the charter schools absolutely care more about the children then public schools. He teaches in a low end area and some kids have problems but they take the time to work with these kids, also the classrooms are not over populated, many public schools have too many students per class, the reason I believe is because they do not want to spend the money on the kids and have to keep their budget down to help pay the retired teachers salaries which the union negotiated that undermine the kids. Do teachers need to be paid well, YES but come on, they work 180 days a year, summers off winter and spring break. That is a great job. I’m not going to be a hypocrite because my wife and son are in education but lets be honest here. The unions were good many years ago, I do not think they are needed anymore. You shouldn’t be forced to join a union. Plus the money goes to one party for favors. You see this in NY, California, Chicago, Detroit. It speaks for itself.

        As for Cuomo, he is a politician and is going to go were the money is! Maybe on some parts of education, you feel he is not liberal but I can assure you HE IS in almost every way!

        Personally I believe Catholic school is the best! The students are far more smarter when they come out and excel compare to public schools. My wife has had kids that had to transfer( I guess for money issues) to public from catholic and she told me that most 4th graders were at levels that the 5th and 6th grade students were at. That is substantial. How would you explain this? The kids parents were asked If they would be opposed to skipping a grade. That has to mean something.

      • I’m sorry, you did not read all of the research in that short of time and certainly did not incorporate it in your response. The piece from the NY Times was merely to show how one of charter schools’ greatest advocates expressly endorses them pushing out kids who do not immediately conform to the kinds of rigid behavioral expectations these schools place upon kids as young as Kindergarten.

        The research backs what I said entirely — these schools have very different demographics than district schools and they do not arrive at those differences randomly.

        I find your take on the unions to be typical but not helpful. Nor does it remotely connect to your not factual assertions that charter schools outperform in almost every way.

      • Dan

        Now accuse me of not looking at the links? OK. As I stated Both my wife and son was and is in the education field. My son who is currently in a charter school said they do not throw out students. They have to really start trouble to be expelled. Please back up your allegations with facts.

        Obviously if you are PRO UNION, anything anyone says will not be helpful, you can not deny that unions take the union members over the children. Because of all the shady negotiations sitting across someone you helped to elect is really not something I would say is “in the best interests of the children”
        It is very hard to get a bad teacher fired, and this is because of UNIONS. The offense could be 100% verified and the union fights for the BAD teacher and you are OK with this? If so you are lying to yourself.

      • I linked you to a review of research, a technical report, a technical blog post, and a journal article in TC Record. Yes, I do not believe you read all of that sufficiently to decide whether it was or was not relevant to my points.

        I am glad to hear that your son’s charter school is not currently using unethical practices. However, the plural of anecdote is not data, and I was referring to the charter sector as a whole and to the “no-excuses” brands of charter schools — where the material to which you’ve been linked is entirely on point.

        I am favorably disposed to unions as the period of union representation in this country did more for decreasing poverty than most any other arrangement in our history. However, the union “issue” as it were is one I am largely dismissing because it is irrelevant to the question of what is harming our most struggling schools. Those schools are mostly characterized by high turn over of faculty, many of whom do not stay long enough to get tenure and even more of whom leave before their induction period skills development is over. The faculty problem in our schools where students struggle the most is one of turn over, not excessive retention.

        Your statements about unions in our schools is boilerplate anti-union argumentation, but it is not exceedingly factual nor does it approach the central problems impacting many of our schools.

      • amerigus

        Dan, in NYC, Charters selectively enroll the high performers through a application/lottery process that leaves behind small children from troubled families.

        I teach in the inner city in a high crime area and I see teachers who care. We would never be in these difficult jobs if we didn’t care. You have some points about unions in the past being too strong, but this is not the case today, they have been conceding and giving ground ever since I’ve been teaching in 2007 with pay freezes, agreeing to nonsensical testing and evaluations.

        The argument you can’t fire a bad teacher is nonsense – the DOE is at fault for hiring bad teachers, granted them tenure without checking their work, and then failing to document the problem later. At every opportunity, DOE laziness/incompetence is the problem, there is no union policy defending bad teachers.

        Today, the recession and the austerity programs have made classes bigger and cut needed social services.

        You are way too flip about politicians going where the money is – this is a problem, it’s theft of taxpayers, catering to the richest instead of the greatest number of citizens. This conversation has shown where you stand – to endorse cherry picking. That NYT article was huge because it shows the charters believe they should not bother with disruptive kids, we’ll just dump them on the other schools, and then we’ll compare ourselves to them as if we have some magic way of teaching.

        No one should argue Cuomo is liberal – he is a corporate Wall Street flunky who BLOCKED Mayor de Blasio from raising taxes on the 1% to fund poor children getting pre-K for the first time.

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