Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cowardly Cuomo Refuses To Own Up To His Own Education Reform Agenda

Here was Governor Cuomo talking about his pro-active education reform agenda this year during his State of the State speech in January:

In terms of education, Governor Seward said the standard of education ought to be elevated. It is the highest; education is the chief of our responsibilities. He said that in 1839; it is true today. When it comes to education, I say two words: more and better. We need more learning time in this country. Not just in this state. Secretary Arne Duncan put his finger on this a long time ago. We are still providing education as if we were an agrarian economy and an agrarian society and we needed the children home to work the fields. That’s why our school day and school months is what it is. The advantages of more education are clear. When you look internationally, countries that are beating us educated their children more – just more days on education. 200 for Korea, 190 for Canada, 179 for the United States. We need more learning time, my friends, if we really are serious about improving education. There are three options for more time. Option A is longer days, extend the school day beyond 3 o’clock or start the school day earlier. Option B is to have a longer year, less summer vacation or fewer vacations during the year. Or you could do a combination of both. Now, these are big decisions, they impact families, they impact neighborhoods. There’ll be different opinions on these options. Our proposal is that we, the state, makes it an option for every school district in the state, if they want to opt in and how they want to opt in - longer day, longer year, combination. It’s up to them. But if they do it, the state would pay 100% of the additional cost to give them the incentive to actually do it.

We need more early education. Every expert will tell you that early education makes a difference and it makes the difference for life. The statistics are overwhelming. Children who receive early education perform 25% better on math by the second grade, 20% better on English, 30% are more likely to graduate from high school, 32% are less likely to be arrested as a juvenile. We should provide real pre-k for all our children. Currently we have universal pre-k but it’s only provided by 67% of the school districts and on average, they only offer two and a half hours per day. We will expand the pre-k program to full-day pre-k, five hours. And we will start with students in the lowest wealth school districts. Let’s do it today.

We need better teachers. Teaching is one of the most important professions in society. We must attract and incentivize the best to become teachers. We need to overhaul the teacher training and certification process, increase admission standards, and we should implement a bar exam type test that every teacher takes and must pass before we put them in a classroom to teach our students. We’ve been working to change the culture in education and create a performance culture. For a performance culture, first you need an evaluation mechanism. You need to know what’s working, what’s not working, what teachers are working, what teachers are not working. Incentivize the teachers that are and help the teachers that aren’t.

We started last year a teacher evaluation system, after years and years and years of dallying and opposition and lack of progress, we said last year we agreed on an evaluation system and then we said to the school districts across the state, we want you to adopt it, we want you to adopt it by the end of the year, and if you don’t, you’re not going to get the increase of 4% that we promised in the budget. Well my friends, the 4% agreement worked; 99% of the school districts have submitted a teacher evaluation test already ahead of the deadline, congratulations. We want to keep it going; more than 90% of the plans that have come in last only for one year. We want to keep in the model that in order to get the additional aid, you have to continue the evaluation process.

We must pay for performance and incentivize high performing teachers. You have to say to a teacher if you work harder and you do better and your students do better, you will do better and you will have a higher award. So we propose a program where high performing, what we call master teachers, will receive $15,000 in supplemental income annually for four years and they will then become mentors and teachers for other teachers. If you want teachers to do better, pay teachers and incentivize teachers to do better. Not every teacher gets paid the same no matter what happens.

In this speech, we hear a can-do governor with a pro-active education reform agenda that he plans to see implemented all over the state, a guy who won't take no for his answer when trying to impose education plans.

Fast forward to today, 10 months later, as anti-Common Core, anti-testing, anti-evaluation and anti-data collection protests grow all across the state:

ALBANY—Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he would consider “legislative changes” to address parents' concerns about the rigorous Common Core standards, on which New York schools started testing some students last April.

“I've heard quite a bit from the parents who are very concerned about Common Core,” Cuomo told reporters after an event on Staten Island. “It's part of a national curriculum that the national experts say is actually going to be beneficial.

“But there's no doubt that there are significant elements, at least in the transition, that are problematic,” he continued.

Cuomo stressed that he doesn't have authority over the state Education Department. The state Board of Regents directs the department and elects its commissioner, currently John King. But the state does determine funding for schools, and the governor has pushed a series of competitive grants and a new system of teacher evaluations.

The Common Core curriculum standards have been voluntarily adopted by 45 states and aim to boost students' readiness for college and careers. Parents and teachers, often at public forums, have said the curriculum is developmentally inappropriate for students and that the state has botched the implementation.

“It's actually a decision that the state Education Department is going to make, which ironically, although the state Education Department does not report to the governor … it's something we're watching very closely,” he said. “And it's something that might be the subject of legislative changes next year.But it's not anything that I control, so we are watching."

Gee, what a difference 10 months and a whole host anti-SED/Regents reform agenda protests make.

Last January, (and the January before, for that matter, when Cuomo proclaimed himself the "lobbyist for students"), Cuomo was the guy who had an education reform agenda that he was going to implement no matter what anybody else thought or did about it.

In fact, he imposed a teacher evaluation system on NYC via the budget process even though budgeting is a legislative process.

The point being, Cuomo had his hands all over the Common Core reforms, the testing, the teacher evaluations that mandated so many tests, etc.

Now all of a sudden, Cuomo plays like he's powerless:

“It's actually a decision that the state Education Department is going to make, which ironically, although the state Education Department does not report to the governor … it's something we're watching very closely,” he said. “And it's something that might be the subject of legislative changes next year.But it's not anything that I control, so we are watching."

I would like to remind Sheriff Andy that even though he didn't control the SED or the legislature, he still stuck the NYC teacher evaluation imposition into the budget.

If Sheriff Andy wants changes to the laws mandating the Common Core, the tests, the teacher evaluation law that imposes so many of these tests or the data collection the state is going to force on all the districts whether parents want it or not, he has the power of the purse and the influence of the bully pulpit as governor to do it.

He said exactly that in his 2013 State of the State speech when he talked about teacher evaluations.

So my message to Sheriff Andy tonight is, don't be so modest about your power to influence the Regents or the SED over their education reforms.

We have the documentation of just how much influence you have on these issues.


  1. What is really amazing in Sherrif Andy and King a nd Duncan and Tisch and their claim to know what is an improvement, backed up by "numbers", is that the ONLY real science behind improving education and learning says that smaller class sizes is the only really effective and most important change. Funny how not one of these creeps from top to bottom ever mentions that. Next on the list is more art and music to improve learning. Not one of these jerks ever mentions that either. TESTING and a Federal-wide soul-less curriculum. Sort of like torture for the 5-15 year old set. Anyone else smell the sulfur?

  2. The over-testing is built into the system. They are trying to fix the edges, but the whole system is the problem. That;s why it will all fall apart. They can't just fix a little when the whole thing is built on an insane amount of testing.