Regent Betty A. Rosa wants people to know that her board of 17 members aren't all in agreement about the public education reform agenda that's currently upsetting many parents, teachers and school administrators statewide.
In fact, she thinks the Common Core program is based on incomplete, manipulated data.
"They are using false information to create a crisis, to take the state test and turn it on its head to make sure the suburbs experience what the urban centers experience: failure," said Rosa, a former teacher, principal and superintendent from the Bronx.
The state Board of Regents is scheduled to meet in Albany on Monday and vote on a budget request for next year. Members are expected to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a substantial increase in aid for local schools, on top of this year's level of spending, $56 billion. The extra money is to help achieve the Regents' reform agenda — a series of higher standards, tests and other assessments to track and boost performance of pupils and their teachers. The program has caused a firestorm, with the Regents and Commissioner John King at the center.
Rosa said the program is built on data from incoming freshman at public two-year and four-year colleges in New York, which suggests only 24 percent are ready for work or higher education. But it doesn't consider data from private colleges, which are getting college-ready students — particularly from the suburbs, Rosa said.
"The conversation is (that) kids are not ready; it's really the black and brown children in urban centers," said Rosa, who spent her first 10 years growing up in Puerto Rico before attending public schools and colleges in New York. She earned a doctorate in education from Harvard University in 1995.
Rosa said SED disregards data from successful schools to bolster its message that public education isn't working.
"I'm not saying it's a fraud, but there's a lack of understanding ... of what's behind the Common Core," she said. "Do I believe that the purpose, the agenda is to create a sense of urgency around failure? Yes."
Regents Chancellor Tisch argues in the Times-Union piece that Rosa is wrong, it's a statewide problem with community colleges in the suburbs and rural areas experiencing the same alarming remediation rates that schools in the urban areas are experienxing.
But Tisch doesn't address the most important point Rosa makes - that SED ignores the statistics from the private colleges, which would lower the rates of students needing remediation greatly, in order to bolster their case that NY State schools and teachers are failures and disruptive reform is needed to fix the problems.
The article goes on to say that change is coming to the Regents/SED reform agenda, though how much change remains to be seen:
The state Legislature has become increasingly uncomfortable with the Regents' plan, and several lawmakers have proposed amending or putting the brakes on aspects of the program.
The "Reform of the Reforms" plan announced by John Flanagan, head of the Education Committee in the State Senate, is a lame attempt to make it look like the legislature is making changes to the SED/Regents reform agenda.
Critics of the plan point out that it actually gives more power to SED to impose their own agenda on districts and doesn't give any opt-out options to parents over the controversial inBloom data project.
Frankly, the longer the merry reformers at the Regents and SED continue to go full speed ahead with their reforms and the longer the state legislature or governor refuses to take meaningful action to stem the damage these reforms are doing, the more likely it is the whole reform ship will sink.
Tinkering at the edges of the reform agenda while telling people they're doing meaningful reform of the reforms is not going to fool too many people around the state, though it may throw even more fuel onto the anti-CCSS, anti-testing, anti-inBloom fire.