New York's education policymakers say they really were listening, even to the shouting, during a series of volatile public forums held to explain a slate of education reforms intended to better prepare public school students for college and the job market.
This month, a newly appointed Regents task force will begin reviewing comments from the 20 statewide forums, with instructions to come back with ideas for smoothing the way forward on stricter K-12 learning standards, student testing and teacher evaluations.
"If you went under the surface of the contention, the truth was we heard some people bring up some very reasonable thoughts about modifications," said Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who appointed the six-member task force.
The goal is not to undo what's been done or slow the pace of reform, said task force members, whose first meeting is Wednesday. It wouldn't make sense, for example, to go back to testing on the old learning standards, they said. Instead, the task force will focus on how to improve professional development and communication and look for ways to cut down on the time students spend taking tests, perhaps by encouraging districts to replace local assessments with some other measure in teacher evaluations.
The message is, we were listening, we really were, but there can be no real change to our reform agenda because we know best and you do not.
We're saying there's going to be some changes, and we're tinkering with things at the edges of the reform agenda, but the goal remains - "not to undo what's been done or slow the pace of reform."
In short, there will be no real change to the Cuomo/Tisch/King education reform agenda until they are made to pay a political price for refusing to listen to the will of the people.
It is time to make them pay that political price.
We'll start with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has promoted this education reform agenda in his last three State of the State addresses but lately has run from this agenda as opposition from the public has increased.
Cuomo CANNOT run from his own education reform agenda.
If he continues to have this implemented (and we learned from Newsday that he threatened Merryl Tisch if is it not implemented quickly and to his satisfaction), then he will be forced to defend this during his re-election campaign this year at stop after stop after stop.
Cuomo and the legislature can put a stop to this - and they will when the political cost becomes greater than the hedge fundie/education reform money they're taking that is currently driving so much of this "reform".