Tag Archives: Governor Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo: Remember, teacher evaluation tests don’t count for kids

Governor Cuomo had this to say about the just completed New York State ELA and math tests last Friday April 24, 2015:

“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.
“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.”

Cuomo: Remember, teacher evaluations tests don’t count for kids Capital Confidential April 24, 2015

Parents were not impressed by Governor Cuomo’s words:

  • MEANINGLESS!!!! $32 million dollars for “meaningless” assessments for my child! So you can rate a teacher? So you can rate a teacher on standards never piloted or benchmarked? So you can rate a school based on underfunded mandates imposed by idiots who never worked a day in public school? This quote is up there with the most idiotic. (Karen, parent in upstate New York)
  • These children are placed under undue stress and loose valuable time for what? I did not allow my child to opt out because I have concerns about sending him the wrong message about tests in general. However I will be jumping on the band wagon next year as the government does not have a clue. This is not just about teachers IT IS ABOUT THE KIDS and their well being. (posted by nyparent in article online comments)
  • What???? “Grades are meaningless to students?…?..”  My children took the test because Tisch and the Department of Efucation said parents should know where the kids stand,,,now they are meaningless for my kids that spend 9 hours taking the tests?  I know can say to them, ” don’t worry honey the Governor thinks your time, hard work is MEANINGLESS!”  Never again will they take those tests. (nysparent in article comments)
  • So, let’s for one moment consider “nyparent” and the comment made here. Here is a parent who wants what is best for their child and even had them sit for testing this year. But, not next year if this nonsense continues! Yet, it has become increasingly apparent that Albany cares little for kids and their education. Look at the mixed messages coming from the governor and SED over the decree regarding the new evaluation system. This has to stop. The governor and chancellor (and much of the media) has grossly miscalculated the push back here. This is not NYSUT or the UFT/AFT! These are YOUR constituents Mr. Governor telling you that YOU are wrong! These are the parents of YOUR public school students across NYS Madame Chancellor, telling YOU that your infatuation with high stakes testing and Common Core is wrong! Wake up, folks. This is civil disobedience NOT driven by the union. These are angry parents whose children have suffered enough. They are fed up (and rightly so). Members of the NYS Legislature: those of you who have supported the governor’s failed attempts (over and over again) to reform education because of all the money behind the movement … your days are numbered, too. It is time for commonsense in Albany and to change a State of Mind that says, “we are the government and we’ll make decisions for you, our constituents (whether you agree or not).” WRONG! YOU WORK FOR US! WE ELECTED YOU TO REPRESENT US!! START LISTENING AND PAY ATTENTION – DO YOUR JOB!  (TG says  in article comments)

Maybe Governor Cuomo should keep right on talking.  Before we know it, he will talk ALL of the parents into REFUSING the tests next year!

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Rella exposes the Common Core Reform Agenda

Superintendent Dr. Rella has been speaking out against Common Core almost as long as I have known about Common Core.  He exposes the truths about the Common Core agenda in this video.  The video is an excellent primer for people who are just now beginning to question Common Core.  The video was recorded in late February 2015 before the New York State budget was passed so a few aspects of the ‘reforms’ pushed by Governor Cuomo have changed but what we are stuck with now is just as bad as what Dr. Rella discussed.  The current state of education is no accident, this is a planned takeover with dire results.

It is nothing less than the programmatic dismantling of the public education system.  And that is not the worst part, believe it or not, the worst part, the most destructive effects are on our students.

Given that 5% incremental improvement, a 3rd grader right now could conceivably go through his entire elementary and middle school career and never pass a state test.    That sends a clear message to that kid, “you’re dumb”.

Proficiency is no longer an indication of student learning; rather it is part of a broader political agenda.

Dr. Rella understood the problems with Common Core when it was first introduced in New York and the problems that still exist as Governor Cuomo rams his education reform down the throats of New York State parents.

Nothing will stop parents from protecting their children.

As a parent I am not concerned about protecting unions.  I do want to help the students’ teachers because what happens to the teachers impacts the kids.  Parents have been fighting; the unions have finally decided to join in but this fight is not about the ‘political agenda’ of parents.  It is actually about STOPPING a political agenda. Parents will not stop fighting until our public schools and our kids are again safe!  I pray that it will be this year but if not, so be it.

Refuse the state tests!

Refuse ELA Test April 2015

Albany has failed parents/students with the state budget – they must now pass CC Parental Refusal Act!

Now that testing is being cemented even more into the fabric of education thanks to Governor Cuomo’s bad education reforms that were approved by the New York State assembly and senate on Tuesday March 31, 2015, it is even more vital that parents know they have the RIGHT to REFUSE the state tests and that they can do so without punishment for the student, teacher or school.

We can not blame the passage of these bad education policies on a specific political party as it was the democrats who passed the education policy in the assembly (passed 92 to 54) and the republicans who passed it in the senate (passed 36 to 26).  It makes absolutely no sense at all that anyone would pass this junk but even weirder that one party passed it in one house and the other party in the other house.  Regardless, the Common Core Parental Refusal Act has bi-partisan support in both the senate and the assembly, so the rest of the legislators who say they are concerned about high-stakes testing need to get on board to get this legislation passed!

NYS Senate 2015 Budget YES votes

NYS Assembly 2015 Budget YES votes

Contact your assembly member and senator first thing in the morning and tell them since they failed us with the budget*, we HAVE to have this legislation passed immediately.

The state tests are only 2 weeks away!!!

*Ulster County residents take note – if you live in Assemblyman Peter Lopez’s district or Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney’s district, they did NOT fail us.  They voted against the education portions of the budget!  Please thank them when you call.  UPDATE 4/1/15 – Assemblyman Kevin Cahill also voted No on behalf of our children.

If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition supporting the Common Core Parental Refusal Act.

Common Core Parental Refusal Act petition

Urgent! Call Albany NOW 3/31/15 to protect our children from testing tied to the budget!

If the information presented by the Cuomo official in this article as of 10pm Monday March 30 (here and at the end of this post) is accurate, this is very bad news for the children of New York.

Not only will the children continue to be tested in order to determine whether their teachers get to keep their jobs or not, a second test might be added to assist with this determination. BUT the extra test will not be mandated by NYSED so if a district decides to use it, the extra testing is on the district NOT NYSED (thanks a lot Governor Cuomo and legislators!) Regardless of how well the teacher does on the observation portion of the evaluation, if their students do not show growth based on the test scores, the teacher can NOT receive an effective or highly effective rating. Not in this article but from earlier reports (here and here), if teachers are rated ineffective for two or three years in a row, they can be fired (within 90 days unless they can justify not being fired for two years of ineffective ratings; mandatory firing in 30 days for three years of ineffective ratings unless the teacher can prove fraud).  That sounds like an awful lot of pressure to put on a child’s test score to me!

Have the people in power in Albany been listening that these tests are developmentally inappropriate; that they cause harm to children; that they are statistically invalid for evaluating teachers; that there are so many problems with these tests that they should NOT be used in any way shape or form (read here for a sampling if you are not familiar with the various testing issues) let alone be the gatekeeper on whether a teacher gets to keep their job?

Apparently the education portion of the budget bill is not yet available (as of 10pm Monday) so we do not know what the exact language is in the bill. Senator Amedore’s office reminded me of this when I spoke to them at 9pm tonight. However Governor Cuomo is willing to waive the three-day waiting period requirement so the budget bill can be passed on time, therefore once the bill hits the legislator’s hands, I expect that it will be voted on very quickly so we will not have the luxury of waiting to see what the bill actually says and then leisurely voicing concerns.

Several of the New York State senators’ offices have been insisting that school aid will not be linked to any of the education reforms but as of the publishing of this article at 7:30pm this evening Monday March 30, 2015, Ken Wagner, an official from NYSED is stating that the aid is indeed linked.

School funding and teacher evaluations are linked after all, a top official with the state education department said late Monday.
I regret the inconvenience this will cause to our legislators’ aides but the phones need to be ringing off the hooks so that our senators and assembly members know that inclusion of any of these items in the budget will be considered by parents as a failure to support what we want to see for the education of our children:
  • increased reliance on testing
  • setting teacher evaluations as part of the budget process
  • receivership for schools – I have not focused on this due to the testing concerns but it is a total destruction of local school control
  • anything tying school aid to Cuomo’s education reforms

Please call both your senator and your assembly member as well as the speaker of the house Assemblyman Heastie and senate majority leader Senator Skelos.  Senator Amedore and Assemblyman Cahill represent the majority of families in the Kingston City School District.

Senator George Amedore (518) 455-2350

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (518) 455-4436

Budget hook

Regarding school funding, it looks like neither the senate or the assembly stuck to their guns and we will not get the $1.8 billion that the assembly was pushing for or the $1.9 billion that the senate put forward.  Reports seem to be settling around $1.3 or $1.4 billion with Senator Skelos being quoted here that schools would get half of the GEA back this year and the rest next year.  Senator Amedore also issued a statement regarding elimination of more than 50% of the GEA.  Please thank him for supporting elimination of the GEA when you call.

Schools also need the Foundation Aid formula to be updated and used each year because this is what will give the school districts a reliable revenue that they can count on from year to year.  Not sure what portion of the school aid will be considered foundation aid.

***

ALBANY—The final plan for a new statewide teacher evaluation system will require observations by an “independent” evaluator, a Cuomo administration official said during a briefing with reporters late Monday.
It’s hard to say definitively what will be in the bill, since it hasn’t been introduced, and leaders of the State Senate and Assembly did not immediately return a request for confirmation that they have agreed on specifics of the deal. But the administration official, speaking on background, presented the plan in great detail, some of which Capital has already reported, arguing the deal was solid.
According to the briefing, the evaluation system will have two components: observations and student performance on state tests.
There will be two required observations, from a teacher’s principal or administrator and an “independent” evaluator, who could be a principal, administrator or “highly effective” teacher from another school or district. As Cuomo originally proposed, a college professor or retired educator could also serve as the independent evaluator. A peer observation will be optional.
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The official argued against critics’ characterization of the “independent” evaluator as an unfunded mandate. If schools or districts agree to swap evaluators, neither would have to pay for the other’s services, the official said.
Student growth on state-administered, Common Core-aligned English and math exams in third through eighth grades and Regents exams in high school will be required components for the evaluation system.
Districts and local unions may choose to include an additional test, which would be designated by the State Education Department. Contrary to how the extra test was described before, it would not have to be designed by the state, which is a costly and time-consuming process.
The additional exam would address concerns about teachers being rated based on a student’s work on one day or over one test-administration period, the administration official said. But the test would be optional, so parents wouldn’t be able to blame the state for additional testing. the official said.
While the State Education Department will be charged with determining how performance indicators translate to “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” or “highly effective” ratings, the budget will include certain rules that “trump” the outcome of the department’s calculation.
For example, if teachers are evaluated using only the traditional state exam and are rated “ineffective” based on student performance on that exam, they may not be rated “effective” overall; they may only be rated “ineffective” or “developing.” For teachers at districts that opt to use two tests, if teachers’ rating based on both tests combined is “ineffective,” they must be rated “ineffective” overall.
If teachers are “ineffective” based on observations, they can’t be “effective” or higher overall.
The budget will also include new requirements for continuing education or professional development. While teachers are already required to complete 100 hours of professional development annually, there will be stricter state guidelines for what constitutes professional development. Teachers will have to complete the state-approved development in order to retain their certification.
The budget will also include $20,000 bonuses for high-performing teachers.
MORE: ALBANY EDUCATION 2015 STATE BUDGET ANDREW CUOMO EDUCATION EDUCATION REFORM NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY NEW YORK STATE SENATE STATE BUDGET TEACHER EVALUATIONS

Details begin to emerge on new teacher evaluation system capitalnewyork.com 10:07pm March 30, 2015

Fairport NY superintendent Dr. William Cala – Silence No More!

Fairport Central School District Superintendent Dr. William Cala spoke at a Rochester Teachers Association forum on March 5, 2015.

Dr. Cala’s notes can be read here.

Dr. Cala has no faith in the New York legislature and believes that Governor Cuomo is totally corrupt. He still believes that it is possible to fight bureaucracy in Albany and win because it has been done in the past (examples given in his speech).  He believes that money and power are running New York State but for us to win, we must acknowledge what is going on (speak truth to power; silence no more) and then get to fixing the real problem of poverty.  His words are way better than mine so watch or read what he has to say.

I don’t agree with every point of Dr. Cala’s solution for dealing with poverty but I agree that poverty, NOT failing education, is the ‘elephant in the room’ that we have to deal with as Americans.

We need to stop bashing schools and teachers. We need to fix the educational problems where they exist with our schools allowing our local educators to contribute to the solutions as the trained professionals that they are. And we have to start working on the hard problems in our society that lead to or keep people in poverty!

NY State Senate supporting Governor Cuomo’s Education Reforms – Contact Senator Amedore to say NO! UPDATED 3:30pm

Okay Kingston, Senator Amedore’s phone needs to be ringing off the hook today and throughout the weekend.  His phone number is (518) 455-2350 and the local office is 331-3810.

He is a very strong supporter of getting rid of the GEA and we should be thanking him for that.  BUT we also need a consistent and predictable Foundation Aid formula put in place that is set in law and runs properly every year.

Apparently the Senate Republicans are under the misguided idea that the majority of Governor Cuomo’s education reforms are a good thing.

UPDATE March 13, 2015 3:30pm:  I have spoken with Senator Amedore’s office and have been told that the article stating that the Republican Senators will support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to increase use of state test scores to 50% of the teacher evaluation is not correct.  This article in the Times Herald Record from March 2, 2015 quotes Senator Amedore:  “I have concerns over the governor’s proposal to base 50 percent off test scores. Not every student learns the same, and teachers need to be able to teach to the ability of their students.”  His office said that his primary concern is with how the tests affect children with disabilities.  I am now expecting that should anyone within the New York State Senate attempt to associate any additional consequences with high-stakes testing or should they attempt to support Governor Cuomo’s attempt to punish teachers further by placing more emphasis on high-stakes testing, that Senator Amedore will be there vigorously working to ensure that this does not become law.  Of course I will be working to totally get rid of the consequences associated with high-stakes testing and will be continuing to urge all parents to REFUSE the state tests in April!   – end of UPDATE

According to this article the New York State Senate has released its proposed budget which

  • gets rid of the GEA (good thing)

but also supports the following from Governor Cuomo’s reform package (bad things):

  • lifting the cap on the number of charter schools as well as increasing funding to charter schools even more than Cuomo proposes (I know many like the charter schools because of ‘school choice’ – for me the problem is the fact that so many fail, unfairness and lots of other issues I have not had time to write about)
  • several tax credits/tax deductions (mixed thoughts on this – I could accept some of these as okay)
  • using test scores as 50% of a teacher’s evaluation (although this would be part of a separate bill, not part of the budget – regardless have they NOT been listening?  High-stakes testing is BAD!  Right, of course not, Senator Flannigan had his 5 forums last year and thought all was right with education just like Commissioner King did!)  **see UPDATE above**
  • teachers will only receive tenure after 5 consecutive years of effective or highly effective ratings (in separate bill)  (again high-stakes testing which ratings are based on is BAD!)
  • teacher preparation programs will be closed in which 50% of the graduates do not pass the certification exam (in separate bill)

In the article, NYSUT gives credit to the Senate Republicans for at least separating out the bad parts of what they are proposing so that children are not being held hostage.  However as a Republican, my feelings are more along the lines of “with friends like these NYS Senate Republicans and Jeb Bush who supports Common Core, who needs enemies?”

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, please call your state legislators and let them now what YOU think about these educational issues.  The legislators are there to SERVE THE PEOPLE, not to line their pockets with donations from the lobby groups or even just to do what they think is in the best interest of the state.  It is OUR JOB as their CONSTITUENTS to DEMAND how they VOTE ON  OUR BEHALF!!!

While you are making phone calls, give a call to Assemblyman Cahill’s office and thank him for the New York State Assembly budget proposal that boosts education aid to $1.8 billion (not the $2.2 billion that AQE said we should advocate for but better than what Cuomo is offering dependent on accepting the ‘reforms’) and saying ‘No’ to Cuomo’s reforms.  Urge Assemblyman Cahill and the rest of the Assembly to stand strong against Governor Cuomo (and now the New York State Senate).

Opting Out of Governor Cuomo’s Attack on Public Education

Bianca Tanis, Ulster County resident and co-founder of NYS Allies for Public Education, eloquently shares the narrative of failure being imposed upon our children by Governor Cuomo’s education reforms and continued reliance upon high stakes testing.

The attack on public education in New York State is taking place on several fronts. On one front, our schools are being underfunded and starved of resources. On the other front, our schools are deemed ineffective, and two thirds of our children are labeled as failures. Policies have been put into place claiming to foster equity and access. Ironically, these reforms have resulted in a test driven education in which children are ranked and sorted by test scores and the needs of the highest and lowest performing students are sidelined. Young children sit for tests that rival the SATs in length while students with disabilities as young as 10 sit for more than 18 hours of testing.

Rather than addressing the very real challenges created by poverty and disproportionate school funding, Governor Cuomo wants to double down on the use of draconian “test and punish” policies that emphasize test scores over teaching.

I urge you to read Bianca’s entire post but if you are not able to do so, I would like to highlight a few points.

There are significant fears that a New York State diploma is going to become unattainable for many students.  Every student will have to pass the New York State Regents tests which will be aligned to the common core to earn a diploma.  The GED will also be aligned to the common core.  There are no other diploma options available in New York State.  If you remember local or IEP diplomas, they are both gone.  The new Career Development and Occupational Studies credential (CDOS) for special education students is NOT a diploma.

Because we have now back mapped and correlated success at every level to this bizarre metric [a 1630 on the SAT], a high school diploma will soon be out of reach for many students. This is especially true as NYS has now tied every diploma to a high stakes test, eliminating the local diploma and aligning the new GED with the common core. Starting with the freshman class of 2017, NYS will require “career and college ready” passing scores on the Regents exams required for graduation. If these score requirements were put into place right now, only 5% of students with disabilities and less than 16% of African American and Hispanic students would have graduated in 2014.

The new Career Development and Occupational Studies credential is the ONLY commencement credential available to students with disabilities who cannot pass the Regents with modified passing scores. It precludes a student from taking a civil service exam, attending technical school or college, or joining the military. To date, the NYS Department of Education has NOT launched any major public awareness campaigns to inform the labor force and employers of its existence yet students have already begun to leave high school with this little known credential as their only entry to employment. At a time where the school to prison pipeline persists and individuals with disabilities struggle to find long term employment, these reforms will likely widen the achievement gap and lead to fewer opportunities.

Parents have attempted to sound the clarion about charter schools, refusal to give adequate funding to schools/inequitable funding, inappropriate use of test scores of students, labeling children/teachers/schools as failures, unfunded mandates, loss of fieldtrips/library/music, use of untested policies/standards, lack of respect for teachers’ experience but “while those in power may be hearing us, unfortunately they are not listening.”

The attack on public education has many moving parts and they are intricately linked. Ultimately, high stakes testing is the hub around which they all revolve.

That is why alongside tens of thousands of other parents, my family is refusing the NYS Common Core tests. It is a necessary act of civil disobedience to safeguard public education for every child in NYS.

We are refusing because patronizing these tests gives tacit approval to a system that serves few and harms many. We are refusing because we reject shoddy and illogical education practices that do not support individual learning, and because we object to valuable learning time being co-opted to generate a data point that is used to punish. We are refusing because we can’t support practices that squander our schools limited resources, erode local control and have not resulted in better outcomes for our children. We are refusing because we will not be part of a practice the harms all children, but especially children of color, children who learn differently, and children living in poverty.

We are refusing the tests because we know that loss of funding due to test refusals is a myth, and because we know that legislation passed last March prevents a school from using state test scores as the sole, or even the majority factor in placement decisions. We are refusing the tests because we believe in assessment and accountability, but not at the expense of children’s dignity or their education. We are refusing because we know there is a better way.

So until we reframe the conversation, until we redefine the term high standards to mean universal preschool, equitable school funding, schools that honor the interests, strengths and culture of every child, education policies and learning standards that are rooted in research and empirical evidence, schools where the diversity of educators mirrors the diversity that children see in their communities, assessment practices that have been vetted for cultural and economic bias and do no harm, until every school has a librarian, a social worker, reasonable class sizes, until the benefits of play, exploration, and creative inquiry are valued, and until we begin to value the expertise of experienced educators….we will continue to opt out.

Bianca has so eloquently stated the reasons for REFUSING the state tests that we will be adopting them as our own family reasons for refusing.  Thank you Bianca!

Not job to toughen children

 

Ulster County defends public education forum wrap-up

Several hundred parents, students, teachers and concerned community members attended the Ulster County Defends Public Education forum last Monday February 23, 2015 at Miller Middle School.  The forum was hosted by Kingston Teachers Federation, New York State Allies for Public Education, Alliance for Quality Education and Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers.

Dr. Paul Padalino, superintendent of Kingston City School District, and Billy Easton, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education, spoke regarding school funding and the problems with Governor Cuomo’s education budget proposal.  Mr. Easton asked audience members to call New York State legislators and demand that the legislators say “No” to Governor Cuomo’s education plan and put $2.2 billion in new school aid in the budget.  The state legislators CAN do this and we as constituents of New York State should accept NO excuses!  Alliance for Quality Education is coordinating a rally/lobby day in Albany on March 11, 2015.  20150311EDUParadeFlyer-color-1

Student Sam Longbotham, Rondout Valley, and teachers Kristina Flick, Rondout Valley Central School District, and Laura Harnden, Ulster BOCES, spoke regarding the impact of high-stakes testing on the classroom.  Bianca Tanis, co-founder of NYS Allies for Public Education, spoke regarding excessive testing and its adverse impacts, particularly on students living in poverty, students with disabilities and English Language Learners, and test refusal.

An opportunity was given for audience members to ask questions after all presenters concluded their remarks.

The Daily Freeman and Kingston Times wrote articles about the forum and NYSUT also published a write-up on their website.

Kingston Times article – Dissatisfaction with Cuomo common bond among local educators

Daily Freeman article – Forum participants say NY Gov. Cuomo hurting schools

NYSUT article – Ulster unites to demand fair funding and relief from testing

Video of the entire forum can be viewed here as well as videos of some of the individual segments.

 

If you would like an opportunity to talk further about high-stakes testing, plan to attend the upcoming Demystifying Testing forum hosted by Kingston Action For Education and NYS Allies for Public Education on March 16, 2015.

Everything you wanted to know about "the tests" hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE)
Everything you wanted to know about “the tests” hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE)

Kingston Action For Education has issues with Cuomo’s Agenda

Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) was interviewed by the Kingston Times regarding Governor Cuomo’s education agenda.

Kingston Times Feb 12 2015 page1

 

Kingston Times Feb 12 2015 page2c

I presented a statement on behalf of KAFE at the Kingston Board of Education meeting on February 4, 2015 that read in part:

KAFE is very concerned about the education reform proposal presented by Governor Cuomo. His proposal has made it abundantly clear that he supports an increased emphasis on high stakes testing and that he supports a reduction in local control of our schools. He does not support a fair and appropriate education for our students but instead is holding school aid hostage to force the legislature to implement his education proposals.

The impact of the proposed increased emphasis on state testing will undoubtedly intensify the “teaching to the test” atmosphere in the classroom.  KAFE opposes standardized high stakes testing that is currently pushed by the federal and state governments because this testing is not being used to further instruction for children, to help children, or to support the educational needs of children. KAFE encourages all parents throughout NYS to refuse grades 3-8 assessments. It is our fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of our children.

The Daily Freeman reported on Governor Cuomo’s withholding of state aid information and comments from the board of education meeting here.

KAFE co-founders Maria Maritsas and myself Jolyn Safron were able to expand on our concerns when talking to the Kingston Times.

“Parents and educators have been trying to convey the many concerns that we have concerning the state of education for the last two years and Governor Cuomo has not been listening” said Safron. “And it’s become blatantly obvious with this education agenda that he’s doing what I feel is exactly the opposite of the things that need to be done. It feels like a slap in the face”

While high stakes testing is not the only problem with Governor Cuomo’s education agenda, it is the glue holding the ball of problems together.

FOR MARITSAS, THE INCREASED EMPHASIS ON high stakes testing is of the utmost concern. “I am a parent of a classified student and [Governor Cuomo’s] proposal does not take into consideration children’s level of ability within the high stakes testing environment,” she said. “Children who are not functioning at grade level, who are working with goals set on their IEPs, also not grade level, are forced to take exams well above their level of functioning. It is unfair not only for the children who have to take these exams above their functioning but also unfair for the teachers who choose to work with the most needy of students to have their evaluation be based 50 percent on the outcome of one test.”

Safron agreed.

“That is what I see as the area that directly causes so much pain to many kids and is driving so much of the damage that is being done in our schools” she said. “I am incredibly concerned about Common Core as a whole, and I do view Common Core as a whole package with the standards and the testing and the teacher appraisal system. If it’s raised to 50 percent, they can’t help but teach to the test. That test is going to be the deciding determinant of their job.”

Because high stakes testing is causing so much pain, so many problems, KAFE is encouraging parents of students in grades 3-8 to refuse the state tests for math and ELA in April 2015.

while conversations are happening locally, some members of KAFE feel the best way of getting their voices heard further up the chain is through action. Safron said she was hoping parents of students in grades 3-8 will opt out of standardized tests planned for April of this year.

“If we can stop the data that is being harvested from our kids, if we stop that pipeline, it’s our only hope to make change. Because we are being ignored. It feels like we are being pushed to drastic extremes. We have to act this year. With everything Governor Cuomo is doing and the direction he’s taking, we can’t continue this way in New York.”

Find information on writing a test refusal letter here.

Local superintendent determines that Governor Cuomo is acting like a bully

A local superintendent analyzes Governor Cuomo’s education plan and actions and determines that ‘Yes, Governor Cuomo is indeed acting like a bully’.

From the Red Hook Central Schools website:

Dear Community Members:

There is a chart in my office that is titled Distinguishing Bullying from Peer Conflict, Accidents, and Misunderstandings. I have used this chart many times when working with students, staff, and parents to effectively resolve conflicts. As I sit in my office contemplating what to write about Governor Cuomo’s approach to the education community, I find myself drawn to this chart once again. Is the Governor acting like a bully?

A little background may be helpful for those who don’t actively follow the political drama in Albany. New York State is sitting on one of the largest budget surpluses in history. Instead of adequately funding public education in a predictable way (as ordered by the courts), Governor Cuomo is threatening to freeze education funding until the Legislature approves his education reform agenda. His vitriolic language toward educators has confirmed that he has no real interest in understanding the complexities of the profession. Governor Cuomo has been expert at laying blame at the feet of educators rather than the more likely culprits (i.e., the breakdown of the family unit and economic inequality). The very existence of such a proposal demonstrates that Governor Cuomo’s intention is to take power away from the Regents and the Commissioner of Education (who, in theory, exist to develop and implement well-constructed improvements to the education system).

The fact pattern is unmistakable to me. A bully threatens. A bully has no real empathy. A bully likes to shift blame. A bully likes control. The ultimate hypocrisy in this situation is that Governor Cuomo reaffirmed his commitment to anti-bullying legislation in 2012. We are charged with protecting students from the very actions our Governor displays. It leaves one wondering what to do when the bully is in charge.

The least we can do is call it what it is.

Sincerely,
Paul Finch, Superintendent of Schools

As Superintendent Hynes from Long Island recommends, we must not be silent regarding Governor Cuomo’s bad behavior.  If you agree that Governor Cuomo is being a bully and that his education agenda is not in the best interest of our students, teachers, schools and communities, attend board of education meetings and voice your concerns.  Write letters to the governor, the Commissioner of Education, and the Board of Regents.  Also let the New York State Assembly and Senate members know that you do not support Governor Cuomo’s education agenda and that you do NOT want it to be incorporated into the state budget.

Cuomo's plan hurts public schools