Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NY Board Of Regents To Parents And Teachers: Screw You!

In naming MaryEllen Elia, a former superintendent of Hillsborough, Florida schools to be NYSED commissioner today, the New York State Board of Regents sent parents and teachers in a strong message:

Full speed ahead on reforminess.

Oh, and screw you if you don't like it.

Elia, who was nicknamed EVILia by some parents for her attitude toward special needs children, was divisive in her former gig in Hillsborough and was ultimately shown the door by the school board  in a 4-3 vote.

Besides earning the ire of some parents, Elia has the reputation of creating a fear-based workplace, and retaliating against employees she considered enemies.

She also won $100K for her school district from the Gates Foundation by promising to fire the "bottom" 5% of teachers every year.

In short, she's John King on steroids.

Even today, she doubled down on reforminess, using the dog whistle language reformers so love to hear:

“Everything that happens for students happens in a classroom because of great teachers,” Elia said after her selection. “And I think the biggest thing we can all do is work to improve and support teachers to get better every day.”

Everything that happens for students in a classroom is because of great teachers?

Really?

What about great resources, a great curriculum, small class sizes, great district and school leadership?

Nope - only teachers matter.

That's reformy speak for "I'll be firing as many teachers as I can" - which is why StudentsFirstNY praised her today.

Elia also doubled down in support of the Common Core and testing:

At a press conference following her appointment Elia said she supports CommonCore and believes that with better communication, people will support testing and what it offers.

The Board of Regents voted unanimously to appoint Elia as NYSED commissioner.

That the regents chose so divisive a personage, somebody with the reputation of bullying subordinates and dismissing criticism from parents and employees in her time at Hillsborough, sends a very clear message to parents and teachers in New York State.

Your input on education policy is not wanted - it's full speed ahead on reforminess whether you like it or not.

The only response is here is a barrage of emails, calls and visits to legislators to let them know you ultimately hold them responsible for this appointment and you will make sure they pay a political price next election for supporting the Board of Regents in this decision.

Regents To Name New NYSED Commissioner With Reputation For Cultivating Culture Of Fear/Retaliation In Her Former District, Ignoring Special Needs Children

From the Buffalo News:

ALBANY – The State Board of Regents is preparing to appoint a well-regarded Florida schools leader with Lewiston roots to become New York’s next education commissioner.

MaryEllen Elia, 66, would become the first woman and first with Buffalo Niagara roots to ever take the post.

Elia is being recommended by the board’s search committee, but the full body must approve the appointment. The 17 Regents were given notice over the holiday weekend to report to Albany on Tuesday for a special meeting to interview Elia and then vote on her appointment.

They will go into an executive session at noon to discuss her appointment.

She's a reformer, of course - she pushed for and successfully implementated a merit pay system in her district, for example.

Also she got a hundred million from the Gates Foundation to put in place a system to fire 5% of teachers.

But there's more:

Toward the end of her tenure, however, she faced criticism from school board members and some segments of the community, who said she cultivated a workplace of fear and did not pay enough attention to issues that affect minority children, including the disproportionate number of black students receiving suspensions.

Parents of special needs students launched a social media campaign against her, dubbing her “EVILia.” 
One school board member criticized the accidental deaths of three students, saying that alone was grounds for her dismissal. In two of those cases, the students died after school staffers did not immediately call 911 when the children experienced medical problems. The third drowned in a nearby pond after walking away from gym class. 
The board voted to terminate her contract, giving her a buyout package that amounted to about $1 million.

Here's more on how some parents of children with special needs felt about her:

Parents of children with special needs overwhelmingly spoke about how the school district was not serving their children. Many talked about how ESE, or the Exceptional Student Education program for children with special needs had failed. Several of those parents looked Elia directly in the eye and went so far as to point and yell into the microphone as they let their emotions about the schools be heard (LINK)

The one percenters loved her down in Florida but many parents and employees?

Not so much.

We'll learn more as the day goes on, but a preliminary look at MaryEllen Elia and her track record as Hillsborough superintendent suggests the Board of Regents will be making a huge mistake if they hire her.

She elicited strong feelings of either support or disdain from people in the Hillsborough district, but I think anybody who was tagged EVILia in a social media campaign by parents of special needs children is going to be a disaster as NYSED commissioner.

What message is the Board of Regents sending to New York parents and teachers by looking to hire somebody as divisive as MaryEllen Elia?

Andrew Cuomo Claims He's The Governor Of New York City

The ego of Sheriff Andy knows no bounds.

In another attempt to stick it to his "friend" Bill de Blasio, Cuomo has decided NYC is the perfect place for a state trooper barracks:

Gov. Cuomo is upping the ante in his battle with Mayor de Blasio — by putting a state-trooper barracks right in Hizzoner’s back yard, sources told The Post.

The governor recently sent a scouting team to Manhattan to pick a location for the new barracks, a move that sources say is clearly designed to get in Hizzoner’s face and under his skin.

“It’s just one more tit-for-tat thing between these two guys. This is [Cuomo] flexing his muscles. He said that he is also the governor of New York City,’’ a law-enforcement source told The Post.

“People are asking, ‘What would [the troopers’] responsibility be?’ Don’t forget, there are 36,000 NYPD cops. So what are they going to do? Nobody knows,’’ the source said.

Cuomo sent about 50 troopers to combat "the threat of homegrown, ISIS-affiliated terrorism" last fall.

The state houses those troopers in NYC hotels at the cost of $180 a night.

The Post says Cuomo now looks to double the number of troopers here in the city and keep them here permanently.

The clicker in all of this for me is this quote:

“It’s just one more tit-for-tat thing between these two guys. This is [Cuomo] flexing his muscles. He said that he is also the governor of New York City,’’ a law-enforcement source told The Post.

He's the governor of New York City.

Uh, huh.

Plummeting in approval ratings in both the Marist and Siena polls, falling in favorability ratings in both polls as well, Cuomo struts his stuff in a battle with de Blasio.

Pathetic.

Cuomo needs to grow up.

Cuomo Hits Low In Approval Rating In Siena Poll, 41%-59%

Just as the last Marist poll released two weeks ago showed Governor Andrew Cuomo hitting the lowest job approval numbers of his governorship, a Siena poll out today shows Cuomo hitting bottom on job approval.

His job approval/disapproval number is 41%-59% - and his favorability rating fell too:

“Cuomo, while still viewed favorably by a small majority of voters, has his lowest favorability rating since he's been governor. While his statewide favorability rating dropped by a net eight points in the last month, it fell by a net 19 points with New York City voters and a net 25 points with Republicans,” said Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for the Siena poll. “Similarly, Cuomo's job performance rating is also at an all-time low. More than twice as many voters say he's doing a poor job as compared to those who say he's doing an excellent job. Even Democrats are evenly divided, with 50 percent giving him a positive job performance rating and 49 percent rating him negatively. His job performance rating is significantly under water with Republicans, independents, downstate suburbanites and upstaters.”

I thought all the publicity Cuomo was garnering ministering to his partner, Sandra Lee, both pre-and post-cancer surgery might have turned around his numbers a bit.

But the Siena poll was taken May 18-21 - right during the height of the Sandra Lee PR (see here and here) - and Cuomo's ratings do not appear to have been affected positively by the pictures of Cuomo in a hospital gown ministering to Lee.

It will be interesting to see if there's a positive effect on Cuomo's numbers next time around.

In any case, Cuomo's not at lows in both the Marist and Siena polls - New Yorkers clearly do not like the job this governor is doing and more and more, they don't even really like him despite the PR attempts to humanize him.

Siena Poll Shows Voters Don't Support Cuomo's Tax Credit For Private Schools

There's a new Siena poll out today showing Cuomo falling to his lowest job approval number in a Siena poll (41%-59%)

The poll also shows Cuomo with falling favorability ratings, down 8 points since the last Siena poll.

On the education initiative Cuomo's putting a lot weight behind - tax giveaways to private schools - voters disapprove 49%-44%.

More later on the poll.

But suffice to say, it's more evidence the heavy hearts in the Assembly can stand up to him on this - if they have the guts.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Andrew Cuomo And Cooperating Witness #1

In the NY Times profile of Glenwood real estate exectuive Charles Dorego, "CW-1" in the Dean Skelos criminal case and a "representative of Developer-1" in the Silver case, is this:

Today, nine Glenwood buildings get 421-a tax benefits, according to New York City records. In exchange for the tax breaks, Glenwood set aside 459 units, a relatively low 15 percent, of the 2,987 apartments for low- and moderate-income households, according to city records and an analysis by the Association for Neighborhood Housing Development.

“Glenwood takes an absurd amount of benefit from the taxpayer’s pocket to boost its bottom line,” said Benjamin Dulchin, executive director of the housing group, which has called for reforming the housing program. “No wonder they use every bit of influence at their disposal.”

Days after Glenwood contributed $1,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign, Mr. Dorego and a lobbyist met in April 2011 with the governor to discuss rent regulation, according to state records.
A short while later, after Glenwood contributed $25,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, Mr. Dorego met with Mr. Skelos to discuss real estate regulations and legislation affecting Glenwood, the complaint says.

As the legislative session heated up, Mr. Cuomo met one day in June with representatives from two real estate groups, Mr. Dorego and Mr. Jacob, another top Glenwood executive, as well as Mr. Silver and Mr. Skelos.

Two weeks later, Mr. Cuomo had another meeting on rent regulations that included Mr. Dorego and the trade groups.

Though it is common for the groups to meet with top officials in Albany, it was unusual, according to several Real Estate Board members, for Mr. Dorego to attend.

In the end, real estate executives said, Mr. Dorego and the Real Estate Board were successful in lobbying lawmakers to renew the 421-a program.

Dorego agreed to begin cooperating with the feds in April and received a non-prosecution agreement in return.

Dorego's cooperation has a lot of people worried:

What's prompting concern at the Capitol is that Dorego, as well as Glenwood founder Leonard Litwin, are close to everyone.

“If Dorego is involved,” said one lobbyist, speaking on background, “then you can bet more trees are going to fall.”
In the past four years, Glenwood passed out at least $3.6 million to state politicians and the political committees that support them through a roster of two dozen limited liability companies. Records show it has ties to a dark money group that spent another $1 million attacking Democrats in 2012. It's hard to state definitively, because only some of the L.L.C.s can be readily associated, by address, with their parent company.

The contributions flowed across party lines through both chambers of the Legislature, pooling around the men with the most power, regardless of their stated affiliations or ideologies.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has benefited the most, taking in $1.45 million for his campaign committee and the soft money account he controls at the Democratic State Committee. Glenwood is also the largest donor to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Tom DiNapoli, both Democrats.

What did Cuomo do for the $1.45 million from from Litwin and Glenwood?

I bet Dorego, who met with Cuomo three times, knows.

Cuomo initially said he had nothing to do with Glenwood executives or lobbyists other than they were donors of his:

Cuomo was asked to describe his political and governmental interactions with Glenwood, its executives and its lobbyists since taking office.

“They are a donor of mine. They are a donor of many elected officials across the state, and that's basically the interaction,” Cuomo said. “I've had nothing to do, except they've been political supporters of mine.”

The governor said they “never” brought up rent control or 421-a with him or any members of his administration, “and I have no family members who worked with them or I asked to work them.”

That "never" turned to this after Jimmy Vielkind reported the three meetings between Cuomo and Charlie Dorego:

“The Governor did not remember off the top of his head three meetings from five years ago, two of which also included many other industry advocates,” said Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo. “What is clear to everyone is that we emerged that year with the strongest rent regulation laws in decades, which included the creation of a tenant protection unit that has returned more than 37,000 unlawfully deregulated apartments to rent regulation.”

Again, I bet Dorego knows what Cuomo got in return for 421-a support back in 2011.

Is he talking to US Attorney Preet Bharara and the feds about it?

What else is he talking to the feds about?

Assembly Heavy Hearts Mad At Cuomo For Playing Unfair

Ken Lovett in the Daily News:

State Assembly Democrats are livid at Gov. Cuomo for what one says is an "obnoxious" public campaign designed to pressure them into passing a controversial education investment tax credit that would largely benefit private and parochial schools.

The Dems are fuming that fellow Democrat Cuomo has singled them out at recent appearances and in ad run by a group that features the governor’s speech while often giving the Senate GOP a pass for blocking “core progressive issues” like campaign-finance reform, the creation of a state DREAM Act and a paid family leave law. In those cases the governor often blames the Legislature as a whole, but not the Republicans specifically, the Dems grouse.

"His campaign for the tax credit is obnoxious," said one. " He has no problem going to bat for taxpayer dollars for private schools. But he's nowhere to be found on core progressive issues like the DREAM Act or paid family leave. Why isn't he calling on Senators who oppose those issues to be voted out?

Why isn't Cuomo calling on Senators who oppose core progressive issues like the DREAM Act or paid family leave?

Because he doesn't care about those things.

Why don't the heavy hearts in the Assembly MAKE him pay politically for paying lip service to progressive issues while sticking it to them on issues like the tax vouchers for private schools and charters?

Cuomo understands force - that's all.

Complaining in the Daily News about how he's playing unfair over the voucher issue?

That's only going to make him double down.

Going at him publicly over his hypocrisy cutting funding for cancer screenings even as he touts a cancer screening that caught Sandra Lee's ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) condition?

That he'll understand.

Specter Of Preet Continues To Haunt Albany

Ken Lovett reports in today's Daily News that Albany pols are afraid to engage in the usual end-of-the-legislative-session horsetrading because they're not sure if it will be viewed as quid pro quo by the feds:

Typically during the end of session crush, Gov. Cuomo, the Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats link many of their major priority issues in hopes of reaching compromise deals.

But in the wake of the recent federal corruption arrests of Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County) and Assemblyman Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan)—both of whom subsequently gave up their leadership posts—and with Bharara openly criticizing how Albany does business, many Senate Republicans are in no mood to take chances, two GOP senators said.

One noted that much of the Republican conference received campaign contributions from influential real estate developers, including Leonard Litwin, who has been linked to the cases Bharara brought against Skelos and Silver.

“The members are worried, will he try to make connections between campaign contributions to whatever gets done?,” the senator said. “It’s getting in the way of the normal political horsetrading. People are asking what would be considered by Preet Bharara a quid pro quo and who you are doing favors for.”

Fear of Preet doesn't just haunt the legislature - Cuomo's worried too, so much so that he's unwilling to make any changes to the 421-a tax giveaway to real estate developers:

Legislative insiders say even Cuomo, who has accepted big donations from many of the developers who benefit from the program, is leery of making changes.

“He doesn’t want to touch it,” one said.

Cuomo during a recent speech indicated he doesn’t see much more than straight extenders of the rent regulation law and the 421a program because of the turmoil stemming from Bharara’s investigations.

If you think Bharara's not screwing with these people in Albany, think again.

The timing of the arrests of Skelos and Silver were deliberate attempts to stick a shiv into "business as usual" in Albany.

Silver got arrested the day after Cuomo's combined state of the state/budget address, effectively taking away Cuomo's headlines the next day and putting a serious crimp into Cuomo's push for his agenda.

He got some of it - the poison pill education agenda, for example - but there were a lot of other items that got left behind, including mayoral control in NYC, the charter cap, rent regulation, tax giveaways to real estate developers, etc.

The left behind items still need to get done, but Preet put a shiv into "business as usual" there too:

One Senate Republican questioned the timing of Bharara's arrest of Skelos just weeks before the end of the legislative session. The senator said Bharara could have waited for the remaineder of the session to play out to allow for some type of orderly conclusion rather than throw everything into turmoil.

"Everyone is scratching their heads over the timing of Preet's action against Dean," the senator said. "It's not like he was a physical or flight risk. Why couldn't he wait until after the session ended.

"Rent control is set to expire June 15. We're due to be out on June 17. They could have made the move on Skelos June 18 and then have all that time for things to calm down."

And Bharara may not be completely done yet.

As NT2 blog wrote back on May 13:

Here’s the bottom line: If he could make cases against Silver and Skelos, he surely can make one against Cuomo. Think about it – Cuomo raised more than $60 million over the last six years. Nobody raises that much without having, at a minimum, appearance problems. And then there’s the way Cuomo and his top people have conducted themselves. No, none of them personally profited, but did they make dubious deals to get things done? Did they look the other way on things when it had utility to do so? Did they employ all manner of leverage on lawmakers? Of course they did. These are people for whom the ends (many times very good ends) justify the means.

Preet, most likely, will make a case against the Governor.  And it won’t matter one bit that the Governor recently lost his father and that his woman has cancer. Preet simply doesn’t care.

Preet apparently believes that the only way things will really change in Albany is if all the leaders are taken out and there’s a fresh start.  Ironically, just like Cuomo, the means don’t seem to matter to him.  Personal costs don’t matter. Nor does the fact there’ll be disruption. The only thing that matters is the outcome. And maybe Preet is right. Maybe this has to happen to finally clean up state government.

Can the case be made against Cuomo?

If you haven't read the list of Quid Pro Cuomos I put together back on May 9, read it through and ask yourself again, can the case be made against Cuomo?

This doesn't mean the case will be made against Cuomo - there are a whole host of political and practical realities for why it probably won't happen (not least of which is, it's unprecedented for a US attorney to take out the top three men in NY government in one legislative session!)

But that doesn't mean it won't happen either - remember, we're dealing with an ambitious prosecutor with a huge ego out of the Schumer shop who loves nothing more than to steal the headlines from Albany.

If anybody would take out all three amigos in the same legislative session, it's this guy.

And if you think Wall Street is worried about losing their shill in the governor's office, think again about that too.

Kathy Hochul, a former bank lobbyist, is lieutenant governor and would become governor if something happened to Cuomo.

You better believe Wall Street isn't worried about anything happening to Cuomo because the fix is in for them no matter what.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is Cuomo Saving Something Big For The End Of The Legislative Session? Is Preet?

A Long Island Republican, unnamed, in Chris Smith's latest New York Magazine piece, on how the legislative session has gone so far:

“This has been the worst session ever,” a Long Island Republican senator says. “I can’t wait to get out of here.”

Smith writes that the legislature, still reeling from the arrests of the Assembly and Senate leaders, is looking to do the bare minimum before the legislative session ends on June 17, then scram out of town as fast as they can, but Governor Cuomo may throw rocks at that plan:

Predictions of a calm Albany conclusion, though, are based mostly on the legislature’s desire to get out of town quietly. And they come with one large caveat: Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

The governor has already been talking up tougher campus sexual assault rules and an education tax credit program that could help needy families, parochial schools, and wealthy donors. Cuomo has generally been opposed to tax increases. On the items crucial to the city — rent regulation and 421-a — the governor hasn’t really weighed in yet, instead suggesting “the parties work it out among themselves.”

For the past few days Cuomo has been tending to his partner, Sandra Lee, after her breast cancer surgery. But no one expects the low-profile to continue. “The governor loves splashy initiatives,” a Cuomo insider says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he spends Memorial Day weekend coming up with some big package to push in the final three weeks.”

Because after a period of tumultuous, involuntary change in Albany, a passive Andrew Cuomo would be the biggest shift yet.

Smith's prognosis misses one other caveat: Preet Bharara.

Cuomo may like to drive the narrative in Albany, but as we have seen so far this year, that's not actually what's happening any longer.

Bharara arrested Shelly Silver the day after Cuomo's big State of the State/budget address, short-circuiting all the lovely press Cuomo was going to get from the speech and putting a shiv into some of the governor's political momentum going into the budget negotiations.

Cuomo still got some of what he wanted - mostly in his destructive education reforms - but there was a lot that had to be left out of the budget agreement, including rent regulations, the charter cap increase, and mayoral control in NYC.

Then, just as things seemed to be calming down after the Silver arrest, Bharara struck again, first with leaks about a grand jury looking into Dean Skelos and son, then with the arrests of both.

Chris Smith writes

It has been 18 whole days now since anyone in New York State government has been arrested or indicted. Albany’s familiar rhythms have returned: By day, the clutches of lobbyists huddle around tables inside the Dunkin’ Donuts beneath the state capitol; by night, the clusters of older legislators huddle at the bar of the New World Bistro.

But you have to wonder, how much longer does that calm go on?

There are rumors abuzz that Governor Cuomo is next on Bharara's list.

Cuomo may be plotting some big plan to unveil for the last three weeks of the session, as Smith's "Cuomo insider" says, but it's quite possible US Attorney Preet Bharara is doing the same.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cuomo Transparency Summit: A Press Conference In The Guise Of A Summit

The lone legislator to attend Governor Cuomo's transparency summit (via phone) explains how Cuomo tried to keep him away from it:

Two weeks ended up turning into two months; the governor’s office said it was difficult to schedule the event given the number of parties involved. The meeting, held at the governor’s office in Midtown Manhattan, fell short of a historic gathering: From the Legislature, only a representative from the Assembly’s Republican minority participated.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, was represented at the meeting by three members of his staff, including his top aide, William J. Mulrow, who expressed disappointment at what he described as a boycott by most of the Legislature.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, both Democrats, sent representatives, and a Republican assemblyman from western New York, Andy Goodell, joined via telephone.

...

In a telephone interview afterward, Assemblyman Goodell described the meeting as “a press conference in the guise of a summit, aimed at criticizing the Legislature.”

He said it took days of phone calls to the governor’s office just to find out when and where the meeting would be held. “I don’t think his staff wanted me there, or even wanted me to participate, but just couldn’t figure out how to get rid of me,” he said.

Classic Cuomo - a press conference masquerading as a summit with the aim of attacking the legislature and thus taking the heat off himself.

Caught In Hypocrisy Over Cancer Screening Cuts, Cuomo Administration Goes On The Attack

David Sirota and Matthew Cunningham reported in the International Business Times that the Cuomo administration has cut cancer screening for thousands of New Yorkers even as Andrew Cuomo has used Sandra Lee's cancer as an opportunity to point out the importance of cancer screening:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee have in recent days become high-profile public faces in the fight against cancer. Tweeting out hospital photos after Lee’s double mastectomy this week, the couple has cited her breast cancer diagnosis to, in Cuomo’s words, “speak openly about her illness in order to remind women of the potentially lifesaving power of early detection.”

That public education campaign about the value of cancer screening, however, contrasts with what health advocates say are Cuomo’s repeated efforts to cut funding for a major cancer screening program in New York. Only a few months ago, in fact, the American Cancer Society sounded the alarm, slamming Cuomo for pushing an initiative the group said could end up eliminating cancer screening services for more than 16,000 New Yorkers who do not have insurance that fully covers such screenings. In February, cancer survivors and public health advocates testified before the New York legislature, begging lawmakers to reject the governor’s proposed cuts.

“Who here wants to tell that mom, dad, brother or sister they can’t be screened for cancer?” asked the American Cancer Society’s Bill Sherman at a state senate hearing. Of Cuomo’s budget proposal, he said it would lead “to thousands of New York residents failing to get life-saving cancer screenings.”

The Cuomo's administration response?

Why, attacks of course:

In response to International Business Times' questions about the American Cancer Society's criticism of Cuomo's budget proposals, the governor's spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, said, "Get your facts straight, then try again." He provided no new data or facts to refute the group, nor did he respond to IBTimes’ questions about whether Cuomo's experience with Lee’s illness has changed the governor's views on state funding for cancer screening.

And:


Why not just say, "You know, you're right, now that we see the importance of cancer screening for everybody, the governor has decided to change his proposal to cut screenings for more than 16,000 New Yorkers who do not have the coverage to fully cover such screenings"?

That's never the modus operandi of the thugs in this administration or the head thug running it.

It's always attack, attack, attack...

Cuomo has used the Lee cancer to try and "humanize" himself - they've sent out tweets of him in a hospital gown while ministering to Lee and other photos that show him supporting Lee.

But this cancer screening story, if it makes to the mainstream media where Lee was doing interviews when the cancer was first announced publicly, will undercut all that and expose Cuomo as the hypocrite he is.

They may get lucky with that - it's a holiday weekend and the story will probably blow over by Tuesday.

But it's just another example of what disgraceful human beings inhabit the Cuomo administration, from the flying attack monkeys in the press office to the head attack monkey in the governor's mansion.

Friday, May 22, 2015

New Senate Education Chair May Give Reformers Pause

So says State of Politics:

Incoming Senate Education Committee Chairman Carl Marcellino has backed a number of education-related bills over the years as well as measures designed to reform the Common Core standards and teacher evaluation system.

Marcellino on Friday was the announced appointment of Majority Leader John Flanagan to chair the education panel, which will take up a number of high-profile school-related issues in the remaining post-budget legislative session.

In a Facebook post earlier this year, Marcellino expressed opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education measures included in the budget.
“Let’s be clear. I do not support the Governor’s education reform proposals,” he wrote. “His plan is bad policy and bad for education. If it was up to me alone, these concepts would be off the table completely, but it takes the Senate, the Assembly and the Governor to craft a final budget. We must negotiate. Our Senate one house budget did not accept his plan and clearly states our intention to modify his flawed design.”

Marcellino also introduced a bill to delay the teacher evaluation deadline for districts until June 2017 and has backed legislation to release the questions and answers to the state Common Core tests.

State of Politics concludes:

Marcellino’s introduction of these bills could give those in the education reform movement some pause: Flanagan, as education committee chairman, was seen as generally supportive of Common Core-based standards.

I dunno - I'll reserve judgment until we see how Marcellino proceeds from here.

But it would be interesting if the new Senate ed chair was a little less reformy than the old one.

Kathy Hochul: Best Way To Support Public Schools Is By Taking Money From Them, Giving It To Private Schools And Charters

Here is a commentary by Kathy Holhul at Syracuse.com in which she asserts overcrowding and poor building conditions in public schools are good reasons to support more charter schools and tax credits for private schools:

Many critics try to argue that alternative schools, such as religious and charter schools, are somehow hurting the overall education system by taking away resources from traditional public schools. They argue that the governor should revoke all support for religious or charter schools – effectively abandoning those students – to focus just on public schools. They claim that this would be fair, but this just doesn't stand up to reason and here's why: 

There are roughly 4,500 public schools across the state – many of which are at capacity or overcrowded, and some are even utilizing trailers as classrooms. One hundred seventy-eight of those schools are failing, and many of them have been for 10 years or more.

Now imagine if the more than 400,000 students who are currently in charter or private schools – representing approximately 15 percent of the state's student population – had to attend one of those at-capacity, overcrowded or failing public schools. Who benefits from that scenario? Surely not the public school students who would find classroom space and resources stretched even further.

Can you follow the logic?

Many public schools are overcrowded, there's not enough space to house students in classrooms so decrepit trailers are used instead - and the way to solve these problems is to take money that could go to public schools and alleviate overcrowding and build new facilities and give that money to charters and private schools instead.

This is the same Kathy Hochul that AFT President Randi Weingarten robocalled for during the Democratic primary, claiming she was an excellent advocate for public schools.

Here's some advocacy for you - Hochul says public schools are overcrowded and falling apart, so let's take money that could go to public schools and give it to charters and private schools instead.

StudentsFirstNY Sad That Assembly Watered Down Some Cuomo Education Reforms

From Capitol Confidential:

The Assembly passed Wednesday an omnibus education reform package that addresses both the updated teacher evaluation system and the Common Core standards.

The bill, which was introduced earlier this month, is a wide-ranging one-house proposal that grants an extension to when schools must fully implement the new evaluation system, delinks funding from the full implementation of the standards and requires the state Education commissioner to review the Common Core standards, among other things.

It would provide $8.4 million worth of funding to the state Education Department.
The bill passed 135-1.

There's not much positive to the bill in actuality - a kangaroo panel at SED to review Common Core, a slight delay in evaluation implementation, more money provided to SED for testing - but still this bill passage made education reformers StudentsFirstNY sad:

StudentsFirstNY, a group that has supported Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s teacher evaluation and education policies, didn’t view passage in the same light Wednesday.
“It’s disheartening to learn that certain lawmakers who approved teacher assessment reforms during the budget process have flip-flopped after a special interest group complained about the agreement,” StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis said in a statement. ”If New York State is serious about improving education, it must move forward with a better teacher evaluation system.”

A special interest group complained?

The heavy hearts in the Assembly were reacting to the opt out surge by parents all across the state, not to complaints by NYSUT.

Some commenters at Capitol Confidential pounced on StudentsFirstNY:

“It’s disheartening to learn that certain lawmakers who approved teacher assessment reforms during the budget process have flip-flopped after a special interest group complained about the agreement,” StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis said in a statement.

And:

“It’s disheartening to learn that certain lawmakers who approved teacher assessment reforms during the budget process have flip-flopped after a special interest group complained about the agreement,”Earth to Jenny Sedlis: Lawmakers are responding to the special interest group called “Taxpaying Parents of Abused Students” or TPAS for short….
Your organization is the Special Interest group, (The Executive Director title gives you away.) But, that’s what Republicans do best, renaming a hurtful policy with an Orwellian reverse speak… Student Advocate instead of test company-financed politicians, PeaceKeeper missiles instead of Weapons of Mass Destruction.. etc..

Also:

StudentsFirstNY Board of Directors: Mikael Andren, President, Jones Family Office ; Douglas J. Band , Counselor to President Clinton : David Boies , Chairman, Boies, Schiller, and Flexner LLP ; Tiffany Dufu , Chief Leadership Officer, Levo League ; Carl C. Icahn , Foundation for a Greater Opportunity ; Gail Golden Icahn , Foundation for a Greater Opportunity ; Paul Tudor Jones , Co-Chairman & Chief Investment Officer, Tudor Investment Corp. ; Peter Kiernan , Kiernan Ventures ; Joel I. Klein , CEO, Education Division, News Corporation ; Kenneth G. Langone , Chairman and CEO, Invemed Associates, LLC ; Daniel S. Loeb , CEO, Third Point, LLC ; Eva Moskowitz , Founder and CEO, Success Academy Charter Schools; Michelle Rhee , CEO and Founder, StudentsFirst ; Jabali Sawicki , Instructional Designer, Zearn ; Dan Senor , Author, Start-Up Nation; Senior Advisor, Elliott Management ; Michael Sullivan , Managing Director, SAC Capital. Special interest group, indeed!

Finally:

To clarify, not just special interest groups complained. Many informed parents had their students (over 200,000) refuse / opt out of the test. In this bill the legislature is trying to represent their constituents, hopefully they will be able to come together on a bill and make it veto proof. This would allow parents and teachers to see the exam in their entirety (like regents exams) and review their students individual results. Hopefully the length of test will also begin to mirror the regents exams. An 11th grader spends 2-3 hours on the English regents, but those in grade 4-8 spend three days and multiple days of prep to evaluate the same subject.

Only in Education Reform World are over 200,000 parents a "special interest group" but a small coterie of education reformers funded by some of the wealthiest interests in the country a grassroots organization devoted to improving education.

Reminds me of when former NYSED Commissioner John King had his meltdown in Poughkeepsie and claimed parents complaining about Common Core and the state's Endless Testing regime were "special interests."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Merryl Tisch Condescends To Parents


Ah, yes - the doyenne of testing thinks she knows what's best for other people's children.

She cannot change her stripes - she is an authoritarian and an elitist who simply cannot imagine that anybody knows better than she.

Endless Testing forever!

Whether you like it or not.

Chris Christie's All Class

From Political Wire:

Gov. Chris Christie (R) “gave an expletive-laced speech at an annual New Jersey media roast Wednesday, taking aim at reporters who had mocked him for the George Washington Bridge scandal, his travels and the state’s finances,” Bloomberg reports. 
Said Christie: “We don’t give a shit about this or any of you.” 
He told one journalist to “open your eyes” and “clean the shit out of your ears. This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day. Then just get the fuck away from me then if you don’t know what I’m doing.”

Media bashing is popular on both sides of the political spectrum, but this attack goes beyond media bashing.

"Clean the shit out of your ears"?

"Get the fuck away from me"?

Yeah, that sounds presidential.

Comments like these out of Christie show you just how frustrated he is, plummeting in the polls, big money donors giving their money to others and his dream of being president stuck worse than the traffic at the GWB during Bridgegate.

Merryl Tisch: 40% Of Teacher Rating Should Be Based On Test Scores

So much for the doyenne of testing listening to parents and teachers:

Making roughly 40 percent of a teacher’s annual evaluation based on student test scores is a “good place to be,” the head of the state Board of Regents said Wednesday.

During an interview Thursday on “The Capitol Pressroom,” Merryl Tisch, the chancellor of the state’s education policy board, said the state’s 17 Regents are “tinkering” with how to weigh a new rating system for teacher ahead of a June 30 deadline for the board to have regulations in place.

...

“We are now tinkering with how we get to a place where we balance the state tests with the local tests with the observation,” Tisch said on the public radio program. “I think somewhere around the 40 percent mark for objective measures that include state testing and the local tests is probably a good place for us to be.”

Currently 40% of the APPR rating is based on test scores - 20% based on state tests, 20% based on local measures.

How is doing the exact same thing "tinkering" with the system?

Tisch is simply doubling down on the system as is - a test-centric evaluation system that perpetuates the Endless Testing regime.

She must be forced out as chancellor and if the heavy hearts in the legislature are too scared to send her packing, they must pay a political price for their support of her and her Endless Testing regime.

Cuomo's Sham Transparency Summit

Jimmy Vielkind at Capital NY:

The summit is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Cuomo's New York City office. It's unclear whether the press will be able to attend.

So far, Democratic leaders in the Assembly and State Senate, as well as the Republicans who control the upper chamber, have said they won't participate.

The summit was announced after Cuomo took criticism for the 90 day email deletion policy he has put into place in state agencies.

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin put the sham summit into perspective:

“Cuomo has a history of using half-hearted promises and deception to appear as though he is actually working on behalf of the people of New York," Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, a Republican from Troy, said in a statement. "Why waste taxpayer money and hold a summit on a Friday just before Memorial Day weekend when he could easily hold a meeting on a session day when most legislators are in Albany? The answer is that he doesn’t want anyone to show up so there is no dissent and he can claim the credit and media coverage himself. 
"This event has been botched from the beginning and is just more smoke and mirrors from a feeble leader,” McLaughlin said.

Cuomo does love his sham panels, commissions and summits, doesn't he?

The only reasonable response to this sham summit is scorn.

Merryl Tisch At The Yale Club

From the State of Politics morning update:

At 8 a.m., Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch discusses charter schools, mayoral control of city schools, standardized testing, teacher evaluations and other education issues in the state during a breakfast forum presented by the news organization Crain’s New York Business; The Yale Club of New York City, 50 Vanderbilt Ave., Manhattan.

We'll see if she makes any news or just simply repeats the usual reformy claptrap.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Role Opt Out Will Play In Undoing APPR

 
The opt out numbers will play an important role when the new APPR eventually gets challenged in court. It's not just the missing scores but the psychological impact on students taking the tests which corrupts the scores they will still use to rate teachers.

The psychological impact of opt out cannot be overestimated, not only on students taking the tests but also on the proponents of the Endless Testing regime.

Governor Cuomo remains in denial about that:

Some testing opponents point to Mr. Cuomo’s effort as a moment that galvanized parents to opt out. But Jim Malatras, his director of state operations, said the rise in test refusals did not signal a political miscalculation on the part of the governor. This kind of reaction, Mr. Malatras said, was to be expected from any substantial shift in policy.

“I don’t think this does anything to change the accountability push,” he said.

But you can hear the concern in this statement from a reformer in the Times article on opt-out:

Robert Pondiscio, a senior fellow and vice president for external affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education policy organization, said that rather than enforcing the rules, government officials might very well retreat. 
“You could write a really good history of education writ large about our tendency in this country to go from one extreme to the other, and this has all the hallmarks of that,” Mr. Pondiscio said. “This is not a prediction, but it would not surprise me to see New York, or someplace else, go from testing every kid within an inch of their life to testing nobody, ever."

We're not at that point yet, but if and when politicians begin to pay political prices for supporting Common Core and the Endless Testing regime, we will be well on the way to getting there.

Let's make Cuomo - still an accountability lover if ever there was one (at least for public schools) - pay a price.