Common Core: School board members question advocacy group

Several school boards in the lower Hudson Valley are questioning the New York State School Boards Association regarding resolutions that will be presented at the annual convention this weekend.  These are the same resolutions that I brought before the Kingston School Board of Education on October 15, 2014 – posted here.

But now critics in the Lower Hudson Valley are calling out the School Boards Association for embracing the Common Core, the new teacher-evaluation system and other state-mandated reforms. Some say the group has become too cozy with the state Education Department at a time when many school board members and educators in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties are resistant to the state’s agenda. – Common Core:  School board members question advocacy group lohud October 24, 2014

The concerns that I reported here from New Paltz school board member Steve Greenfield are mentioned in the article as well.

A school board member from the New Paltz School District, Steve Greenfield, has written several tough criticisms of NYSSBA that have been widely shared through social media. He has tried to focus attention on NYSSBA’s acceptance of a $250,000 grant from the state Education Department to provide training to school board members on implementing the current reforms.

“NYSSBA is supposed to be our lobby before government bodies,” Greenfield said. “It’s an incredibly important organization. But they are accepting money and curriculum from the very agency they are supposed to be lobbying.”

The article includes concerns from other school board members as well as responses from NYSSBA’s executive director Timothy Kremer.

Frank Hariton, president of the Ardsley Board of Education, said he expects his board to review NYSSBA’s performance after the convention.

“We think the state is diluting the great stuff we did before,” he said. “I think that the state Education Department has become almost a subsidiary of Pearson (Inc.) and that NYSSBA is becoming an apologist for SED. I find it to be terrible.”

Members of other local school boards had similar concerns but said they would wait for the outcome of the convention before criticizing NYSSBA.

The New Paltz school board agreed with the concerns raised by board member Steve Greenfield and voted on October 15 to bring a resolution from the floor at the convention to address the concerns.  The resolution reads as follows (from Mr. Greenfield):

Resolution Requesting New York State School Boards Association to Provide Focused Advocacy for its Member School Boards.

WHEREAS the core function of the New York State School Boards Association is to serve as policy advocates for its member school boards; and

WHEREAS acceptance of any State or Federal funding by the New York State School Boards Association represents a conflict of interest;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the membership of the New York State School Boards Association calls upon the executive board of NYSSBA be accountable to its member districts by providing full disclosure of its funding sources, to focus its advocacy and avoid conflicts of interest; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the membership of New York State School Boards Association calls upon the executive board of the New York State School Boards Association to provide member school districts an annual professional review and accountability of its advocacy performance.