Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, April 4, 2015

How Many Albany Politicians Could Pass The NYSED "Moral Character Determination"?

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?


  1. Time to wake up man. Preet is done. No one going after King Cuomo.

    1. Cuomo is done....These " education reforms" will make NYS a national laughing stock...Costly boondoggle is an understatement. People in NYS are already the most taxed in the even more tax dollars have to be consumed implementing Cuomo's education fiasco across the state...None of the increased education funding is going to the classroom...All the money is going to the bureaucracy to implement the reforms, and this time everyone across the state knows Cuomo is responsible for it.

    2. The same scenarios are playing out in so many states that there will be nobody left to be laughing.

  2. I have a feeling that Preet is not done with Cuomo. Too many high ranking Democrats talking about Cuomo going down. I also think a few Assembly members and at least three state Senators also have a very good chance of being arrested. I believe that Preet has at least eight prosecutors looking at possible charges for this crew. Each of them has FBI agents assigned to those possible cases. I fully expect action.

  3. Nah. I stand by my contention that Cuomo won't catch the stink. He's too shrewd. People around him will go down. Already have. Cuomo knows way way way too many people for one thing. He's NY political/power structure royalty. The guy probably has something on every judge in the state. The guy had contact with state powerbrokers when he was literally a child. Let alone his time in the federal government. He is as dirty as they come, but he plays legal. It smells awful because he goes right out there to the borderline of legality, ethics, and crime, but he stays just this side. I wouldn't be shocked if he isn't working for Preet.

    All that said, is it possible to push him into illegality? Yes. I think that of NY teachers really went apeshit....really got civilly disobedient, really started to make a noise, I think it would provoke response from Cuomo. It would provoke a response and put him outside of his generally hyper-calculating, shewd wheelhouse. Then I think he'd get shady quick and step across the line.

    All of that would be predicated on NYSUT being able to see themselves as civil resistors/activists and actually do something, but it is nonetheless the main benefit of bold action.

    1. I am a firm believer in non-violent DC. I was trained early in the 1980s in the philosophy and practice of NVDC by the War Resisters League. I have had extensive experience in civil disobedience during the 1980s around nuclear disarmament and in the 1990s around LGBT civil rights and funding for AIDS treatment.

      I've been suggesting to people in various places that a little NVCD by some "representatives" of teachers might be a useful addition to our repertoire of protests and rallies.

      Since active duty teachers can be disciplined and fired if they are arrested, I've tried a few times to suggest that retired teachers might form the core of a NVCD action on behalf of active-duty teachers. I even suggested this a few times to folks in MORE, who I thought might at least be willing to discuss the idea. I got run away from like a skunk had just sprayed itself all over me. I recognize that CD is a step too far for many people but it ought at least to be talked about as an appropriate response when things get as bad as they've just got. But even MORE was concerned that CD would simply make regular teachers think it more leftist than they already do and that it wouldn't accomplish anything useful.

      Opting-out is a form of NVCD. Once people break the chain of fear that causes them to "follow orders" because there might be some small adverse consequence they become open to all sort of new ways of thinking and acting.

      Teachers need to start thinking about new ways of thinking and acting before there aren't any more teachers in the profession--beyond the sort that can read a scripted curricula and turn the "personal learning" computer program on and off.

    2. Harris,
      As one of the few retired teachers in MORE I don't agree that this was ever raised in a manner befitting a full discussion but because you might have suggested it on a listserve and people didn't jump on it right away doesn't mean there weren't ideas to explore if we got into specifics. I think classifying a response as MORE was concerned is not accurate. If one person comments that is not an organizational discussion. There is a tendency for people to classify MORE as this or that based on tenuous evidence.

    3. I understand your response, Norm, but I tried to raise it in several different circumstances, with several different people and not just on the listserve. It's not a big deal, at least I didn't intend to make it one, because no matter where I turned with the idea I got the same sense that people, not just in MORE, were not yet, or maybe ever, ready for the idea. Perhaps with changing circumstances and the need for all sorts of new thinking about how to respond to them, NVCD can be one additional, possible response in the arsenal of actions available to teachers. At the times I raised it with people in MORE I did get the direct response that NVCD was just not something that would be useful to establishing MORE's presence in the minds of UFT mainstreamers.

  4. So, if teachers have to (re)register every five years, does that mean even those who entered the profession prior to the installation of the law that required new teachers to be fingerprinted will now be subject to the indignity of fingerprinting as well?

  5. Pretty widely acknowledged that the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Jon Flanagan, has ethics investigation problems as well. The tip off was that he hurriedly changed his financial disclosure filings recently.

  6. Noticed that Flanagan amended years worth of filings related to his "of counsel" work for a Nassau law firm that he claims pays him as much as $150,000 a year and a personal loan for tens of thousands of dollars. He claims he makes up to $150K from the law firm and clears over $100K plus per diems, etc from the Senate and his wife makes about $40K from her job. That's about $300,000. A personal loan?

  7. Flanagan attacked deBlasio over mayoral control of schools. Said something along the lines that the mayor's office hasn't come to kiss his ring yet and that he would be holding a hearing about the matter and that deBlasio better show up, etc.

    A few days later the NY Daily News had a story about Flanagan voting on matters concerning his law firm's clients. Gee, I wonder how that found its way into the newspaper?

    Flanagan forgets that deBlasio is the titular head of the strongest Democratic Party organization in the USA. While Flanagan has a few political flunkies hanging around him, deBlasio and the party has hundreds of aides. Looks like they quickly dug some dirt up on Flanagan. Wonder what else they have in reserve and what they sent over to Preet?

    Flanagan wants to take on the big boys but at the end of the day he is just a chump.

  8. It goes without saying that many of our elected officials in Albany are lacking in any sort of moral character whatsoever. I think the bigger issue is what is going to be considered grounds for dismissal (and let's be real- that's what this is all about) as a result of the moral character review. Late payment on a credit card? Speeding ticket? Taking one straw too many at Starbucks? DOE employees are already contractually obligated to inform their principal if they are arrested, and I am fairly certain similar policies exist around the state. So what exactly is the purpose for this?

  9. This is absolutely unbelievable! I'm planning to move in July ( within my borough). Now, with everything else that has to be done, I have to notify the State Department as well.

    What next? Yellow stars or Scarlet "A"'s on our sleeves and heads?

    This is truly scary, and unless we stop talking about all of these laws, and DO something, I foresee all of us (teachers) heading down a very dark path.