Earlier in the week I posted about the "Moral Character Review" clause that was stuck into the 2016 New York State budget that requires teachers to tell NYSED within 30 days when they move or change their name or risk a "moral character review" by the State Education Department.
The clause says:
Certificate holders shall notify the department of any change of name or mailing address within thirty days of such change. Willful failure to register or provide such notice within one hundred eighty days of such change may constitute grounds for moral character review under subdivision seven of section three hundred five of this chapter.
Many of us have wondered just how this clause got into the budget, who put it there, what the rationale for it was.
I don't have any answers to those questions, but one thing I do know - teachers are now being treated like convicted criminals out on parole who have to alert the state about every move they make before they make it.
This is especially galling considering how many actual or alleged criminals there are in Albany, from former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who faces fraud and extortion charges, to State Senator Tom Libous, second in command for Senate Republicans, who faces criminal charges of lying to the FBI, to State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who is reported to be under investigation for corruption, to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was warned by US Attorney Preet Bharara to stop witness tampering in the Moreland investigation and is reported to be under investigation for meddling in that commission.
When teachers file for certification, they have to fill out a "Moral Character Determination" affidavit which they sign pledging they have made no falsehoods or misrepresentations.
In that affidavit, teachers are asked seven questions, five of which are relevant to our Albany representatives:
Have you ever been dismissed from, resigned from, entered into a settlement agreement or otherwise left employment to avoid investigation and/or dismissal for alleged misconduct?
Are you the subject of any pending investigation and/or disciplinary charge(s) pertaining to employment?
Have you ever been found guilty after trial, or pleaded guilty, no contest, nolo contendere, or had adjudication withheld to a crime (felony or misdemeanor) in any court?
Do you currently have criminal charge(s) pending against you?
Are you the subject of any pending investigation and/or disciplinary charge(s) for professional misconduct in any jurisdiction?
How many Albany politicians could honestly reply "no" to those five questions?
We know Silver and Libous can't.
Based on reports that Skelos is under investigation by the feds, it doesn't seem likely Skelos could either.
Based on reports that the US attorney's office is looking into Cuomo's meddling into the Moreland Commission, it is quite probable Cuomo couldn't.
It's even possible Silver's replacement as Assembly Speaker couldn't honestly answer "no" to all five of those question - it's been reported the Moreland Commission that Cuomo shut down was looking into his campaign spending.
Here we have the current governor, the top two Republicans in the State Senate, the former top Dem in the Assembly and his replacement under varying clouds of suspicion and/or actual indictment and they just passed a budget that treats teachers like criminals on parole who have to register with the state when they move or risk loss of their license (and thus job) based on a moral character eview.
That takes some chutzpah, doesn't it?