Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Everybody Hates Andrew Cuomo

There's some conjecture on twitter that Mayor de Blasio has made a big mistake by publicly blasting Governor Cuomo in such a scathing way, that Cuomo will exact revenge on de Blasio and the city and it won't be pretty:

But Ross Barkan at the Observer reports progressives are rallying to de Blasio:

When Mayor Bill de Blasio eviscerated Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, in an unusually candid press conference earlier today, there was the usual chatter about a vindictive governor readying to punish an unruly mayor who didn’t know his place.

But among progressive Democrats frustrated at an executive who they see as antithetical to their values, there was elation. For Democrats in New York City and Albany, Mr. de Blasio’s sudden decision to publicly air his grievances at Mr. Cuomo was long-awaited, the equivalent of a come-to-Jesus moment.

“The only way to make progress with Andrew is to attack him. If you attack him effectively, he’ll cave. He’s a bully,” said Bill Samuels, a prominent liberal activist and fundraiser. “The verdict for Cuomo for many of us was decided long ago.”

When Mr. de Blasio fumed that he had been “disappointed at every turn” with Mr. Cuomo and admitted he couldn’t “tell you that I can place his philosophy at this point,” liberals found their conscience given voice in the mayor of New York City.

And Barkan reports that few will rally to Cuomo because, well, he has no friends:

Among top Democrats in New York, Mr. Cuomo is virtually friendless. He has burned bridges with Sen. Charles Schumer, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Ditto the rank-and-file party activists motivated more by ideology than Mr. Cuomo’s centrist pragmatism.

If Mr. Cuomo enacts payback on Mr. de Blasio, a city of eight million people could suffer, and Mr. de Blasio can point to a scapegoat in the governor. He has the advantage of the largest media market in the world to disseminate his message; Mr. Cuomo, never one for cameras or microphones, has Albany.

“Enough is enough. This isn’t about personalities. It’s about one personality playing politics and using 8.5 million people as pawns,” crowed one de Blasio loyalist.
An Albany Democrat was similarly blunt.
“I think what you are seeing is that the governor has no friends and that is because he has no actual beliefs and vision,” the Democrat said. “He just wants to win.”

While no politician has been as openly blunt as de Blasio in their criticism of Cuomo they have been critical:

Progressives have been quite critical of Cuomo, especially tenant activists, who hammered Cuomo after he sold them out on rent regulations.

Here was Alliance for Tenant Power's Katie Goldstein last week:

Our worst fears about Governor Cuomo have been confirmed. He took no action at all to strengthen the rent laws. Cuomo made empty promises and lied repeatedly while helping the Senate Republicans advance a bill that is a massive giveaway to landlords. Cuomo’s Republican deal on rent will harm and endanger countless low-income and working-class households. Up to 100,000 rent-regulated apartments will be lost over the next four years because of Cuomo’s Republican deal. This four-year extender does nothing to empower tenants. In fact, it leaves the most vulnerable even more susceptible to landlord harassment and skyrocketing rents. Cuomo should change his party registration to Republican because he is not worthy of the Democratic Party and its most basic values. Cuomo will suffer big political consequences for his betrayal of tenants and Democrats and for solidifying his status as a Republican Governor.
We were right to challenge Cuomo at every turn and not trust him throughout our campaign for stronger rent laws. Cuomo never had any intention of introducing his own pro-tenant bill. We will now lose many more rent-regulated units because of Cuomo’s failure to deliver for tenants and for working families. Today Cuomo alienated and angered millions of New Yorkers. We look forward to helping a strong Democrat defeat Cuomo if he foolishly tries to run for a third term as Governor.

Cuomo has few friends in the media as well:

And people are calling Cuomo out for going on the attack using "anonymity":

Weiner's referring to Cuomo's thinly disguised attack on de Blasio last week, using an unnamed "well-placed source" in the Cuomo administration who just happened to be Cuomo himself.

Give de Blasio credit for not only blasting Cuomo but doing it openly and honestly.

Cuomo, on the other hand, knows nothing about either openness or honesty:

I dunno how this all shakes out - de Blasio is going on a two week vacation with his family and journalists weren't invited to tag along.

You can be sure Cuomo will be working behind the scenes to destroy de Blasio, starting tonight, probably with some of those preemptive and post-facto phone calls that Jonathan Martin referred to in his tweet - Cuomo's famous for that.

But we might have hit a watershed moment here with de Blasio's criticism.

It's in the open now - a prominent Democrat has said publicly that Andrew Cuomo is no Democrat, that his only allegiance is to himself and he goes out of his way to harm constituents simply to stick it to fellow politicians.

De Blasio's criticism is the unvarnished truth and everybody I've mentioned in this post knows it - from the media members conjecturing on twitter about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of de Blasio's criticism to the activists who are already are rallying to de Blasio in this fight to the unnamed Dem who told Barkan Andrew is friendless.

De Blasio's gone to the mattresses in open war against Andrew Cuomo but he's not without help here.

Everybody I know is sick of Cuomo, sick of his shadowy vengeful act and ready to take him down.

De Blasio's extraordinarily frank and honest criticism of Cuomo is the rallying cry for just that.

De Blasio Returns Fire On Cuomo

Governor Cuomo criticized Mayor de Blasio in a thinly disguised but anonymous interview with Ken Lovett last week.

Today, Bill de Blasio returned fire - only unlike Cuomo, he did it without the anonymity jive:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an exclusive interview with NY1’s Errol Louis and took the governor to task for being consumed with “transactional” politics.

“What I found was he engaged in his own sense of strategies, his own political machinations and what we’ve often seen is if someone disagrees with him openly, some kind of revenge or vendetta follows,” de Blasio said of the governor.

The broadsides against Cuomo are the culmination of an increasingly tenuous relationship between the state’s top elected official and the more liberal Democrat who was elected with a wave of progressive support in the city.


In the interview, de Blasio knocked Cuomo for working to closely with Republican-led Senate at the expense of the Assembly, which is dominated by Democrats from New York City.
“I don’t believe the Assembly had a real working partner in the governor or the Senate in terms of getting things done for the people of this city and in many cases the people of this state,” de Blasio said.

In one stinging rejoinder during the interview, de Blasio took aim at the Cuomo administration’s habit of conducting background briefings and providing anonymous jabs at the mayor and his policies.
“And I want to hasten to say there was some interesting back and forth last week and some unnamed sources well-placed in the Cuomo administration had a few things to say. I’m here in front of you on record saying what I believe,” he said.

Good for de Blasio to finally come out and call Cuomo what he is - a transactional politician interested only in his own power and career, a vindictive manipulative scumbag and a coward for his pattern of criticizing others anonymously through background interviews and anonymous jabs.

Alas, all this was apparent last year when de Blasio was pushing Working Families Party to support Cuomo.

I understand at the time de Blasio thought he was counting up some chits that could be cashed later with Cuomo - but as many of us pointed out at the time, Cuomo is a liar and his word is worthless.

That immediately became apparent when Cuomo began wrangling out of the promises he made to WFP in exchange for their ballot nod almost immediately after he made the hostage video for them.

Still, nice to see de Blasio come out firing publicly now, and unlike Cuomo, put his name to it.

Cuomo is sufficiently weakened at this point that de Blasio sees no more reason to make believe like his "friend" Cuomo is on the same side as him or his fellow Democrats.

And this will have repercussions not only for de Blasio, who clearly will get increased hostility from Cuomo from now on (get ready to be treated like a teacher, Mr. Mayor!), but for Cuomo too:

Dunno if Cuomo still harbors delusions about running as a Democrat in a future presidential race, but between the tenant activists and now de Blasio publicly calling him a Republican, that delusion ought to be put to rest for good.

Why A School Would Want To Have Some Regents Tests Rescored

The NY Post reported that 55 schools out of 860 schools in NYC had some Regents exams "rescored."

Four of these schools were "Renewal" schools.

This is supposed to make readers think that these schools - and the de Blasio NYCDOE - is cheating in order to improve test scores.

But if you know anything about the Regents exam grading process, you'd know why some exams need to be rescored.

Regents exams are now scored outside of individual schools, either during the school day or after school when teachers are paid extra to score exams.

This is supposed to ensure objectivity in the scoring of the exams and prevent cheating in individual schools (where teachers and administrators have a lot riding on the scores.)

Alas, the "norming" process for training the teachers to do the grading is often haphazard at best, incompetent at worst.

I've graded both during the day and after school for per session and I can tell you, I've seen some people lead the "norming" process who had no idea what they were doing.

In one case, the person leading ELA "norming" a few years ago gave some erroneous information about the grading of exams that was only corrected because several veteran teachers at the session pushed back against the information that was being given out.

In other cases, I have seen "norming" sessions in which most teachers present have agreed upon the way to approach the exam only to have one or two teachers say "I don't care what the rest of you say about that - I'm going to grade this way!"

One year, during the electronic grading, I saw a teacher who decided to grade the Part 3 ELA responses with her own grading system rather than the one the state had given in the grading materials.

She gave 0's to short response paragraphs that clearly should have been 1's and 1's to short response paragraphs that should have been 2's.

Given that she was grading both parts of the Part 3 section, she easily could have been the difference between some students passing the exam or failing it.

Now "quality control" is supposed to catch this kind of thing, and after a while, a supervisor did approach her and tell her she wasn't grading according to the state standards.

But what happened to all the tests she had already graded?

Were they rescored?  Or were the grades kept and they simply took her off the scoring going forward?

Another problem with scoring the exams is that teachers are often under the gun to get the tests graded by a certain deadline.

I saw this first hand with history exams last year, as teachers were "speedgrading" tests the night before the last day of school.

How accurate were the grades during the speedgrading sessions?

Hard to say - maybe teachers are more forgiving during "speedgrading" sessions and apt to give students the benefit of the doubt, maybe they're more apt to grade severely because they're feeling stressed.

In any case, one thing I do know - teachers weren't able to give much thought to the grading process that last day.

Schools are allowed to request rescoring of some exams if they see egregious errors in the grading process or believe they have evidence that the scoring was unfair and contrary to the state standards.

These requests are not always granted - a few years ago, I know a school that asked to have about a half-dozen exams rescored out of hundreds scored because the grading of the essays in these half-dozen tests was clearly contrary to the state standards that were released in the grading materials.

The request was denied.

Would some of the six students who ended up failing the exam have passed if the exams had been carefully (and fairly) rescored?

You bet.

The NY Post wants you to think the grading process is competent, objective and professional.

They want you to believe that the scores that come from the Regents grading process are sacrosanct, like Mosiac law from the mount, and any requests to rescore exams tantamount to "scrubbing" or cheating.

The truth is much more complex than that.

Is it possible some schools are looking to raise grades by having some tests rescored?


But it's also likely that there have been breakdowns in the grading process around the city and many of the schools that asked to have exams rescored had legitimate concerns about the grades their students received.

Of course, the NY Post doesn't cover this complexity because they're not much interested in anything other than pushing their political agenda - public schools suck, public school teachers are incompetent and dishonest, de Blasio is inept and his "Renewal" program doomed to failure.

But it's important to correct the record here and point out that the grading process for Regents exams is often chaotic, sometimes a complete a mess, and can lead to unfair grades for students (and teachers and schools.)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Big Motivation For Cuomo During Legislative Session Was To Screw De Blasio

From Fred Dicker's NY Post column today:

Cuomo, sources in both parties said, was motivated by a desire to deny credit to de Blasio on housing (by rejecting the 421-a construction incentive proposal) and education policy (by granting him a mere one year extension of mayoral control of the schools) as well as by a commitment to some of his big-money contributors who favored aid to private schools.

Imagine that one of the primary motivations for the governor of the State of New York was to ensure that the mayor of New York City had his political agenda shunted aside, not because the governor was necessarily opposed to that agenda but simply because he wanted to deny the mayor credit.

What damage was done to Andrew Cuomo as a child that he continues to act like a petulant brat and bully throughout his adult life?

I wrote this earlier today, but it bears repeating:

It says an awful lot about Andrew Cuomo, alpha male, that a primary motivation in policy-making is remaining top dog.

New York's Assembly Line Teaching

A serious of tweets with Arthur Goldstein, Tim Farley and Randi Weingarten on the state of teaching in New York today:

Truth is, teaching in many New York schools these days is EXACTLY like the Little Tramp on the assembly line in Modern Times, especially when the EngageNY curriculum is used:

Close read incomprehensible piece, ask text-based questions about excerpt, close read same incomprehensible piece (sometimes same incomprehensible excerpt!), ask text-based questions about it, repeat ad nauseam until final assessment that tests retention of said material.

Have a lesson plan printed out with EVERY step, EVERY activity timed to the second, EVERY question asked of students with expected (and necessary) responses under them, EVERY activity ending in an assessment, EVERY do now activity text-based and "rigorous" (drill-and-kill starts from the very beginning of class and goes right to the end) - this is the daily experience of many teachers in New York's schools.

And God help you if you're slated for a Danielson drive-by observation on the day when you decide to deviate from the above assembly line teaching - you're almost guaranteed a "developing" or "ineffective" evaluation for the lesson in many schools.

Randi Weingarten says teachers feel disrespected and need to be respected?

Respect starts and ends with the autonomy to write curriculum, teach that curriculum as one sees fit, assess students as one sees fit, have the freedom to deviate from teaching methods and lesson plans imposed from above, and not be forced to teach from a lesson plan so completely controlled and rote that it sucks the life and soul out of the learning and the classroom.

Alas, Randi Weingarten and union leaders, through their collaboration with education reformers, have brought us the current assembly line teaching mess.

Randi Weingarten thinks teachers need to be respected?

Great - she should start respecting teachers herself by ceasing to "collaborate" with reformers on reforms that strip teachers of autonomy, creativity, and professionalism.

End the assembly line teaching and evaluations.

Cuomo Teamed Up With Republicans Against Democrats On Rent Regulations, Charter School Policy, Money For Private Schools

Fred Dicker in the Post:

Despite public claims to the contrary, Gov. Cuomo worked behind-the-scenes with the Republican-led Senate to defeat Assembly Democrats on such key “progressive” initiatives as tenant rights and a minimum-wage hike, knowledgeable insiders have told The Post.

Cuomo, the de facto head of the state Democratic Party, defeated a range of Democrat-sponsored proposals supposedly on his agenda through a “two-against-one” strategy in which he allied with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk) against Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx), leaving Heastie no choice but to fold, the sources said.

“Throughout the negotiations, there was never any real difference between the positions of Cuomo and Flanagan. It was two against one with Cuomo pulling Flanagan’s strings to corner Heastie,” said a source with direct knowledge of the secret end-of-session deal-making.

The source said Cuomo and the Senate GOP also worked to force Heastie to accept an expansion of charter schools for New York City and additional state aid to parochial schools, proposals Heastie and the Assembly’s other leaders repeatedly opposed.

“Not that there should have been, but if there was any doubt that Senate Republicans are nothing but a tool of Cuomo to use against his fellow Democrats, there isn’t anymore,’’ the source complained.

This isn't a surprise - anyone watching closely over the past few years knew this was what Cuomo was doing and what he was going to do in the final days of the legislative session.

But it's good to get this in print, even if it's anonymously sourced in Fred Dicker's column.

I'll have more on this story later because Dicker reports that one of Cuomo's primary motivations to work with Republicans against Democrats was to screw de Blasio - just cuz', you know?

Says an awful lot about Andrew Cuomo, alpha male, that a primary motivation in policy-making is remaining top dog.

In any case, if Cuomo still harbors any national political ambitions as a Democrat, his work with Republicans against his fellow Democrats, becoming more and more naked as his governorship goes on, ought to dispel them.

He literally now is seen as "New York's Republican governor," as one tenant activist put it last week after Cuomo screwed NYC residents by siding with Senate Republicans over Assembly Dems on rent regulation.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Calling The "Visionaries" In And Out Of The Education World What Many Of Them Truly Are - Sociopaths

Tony Schwartz in the NY Times on Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk:

The three leaders are arguably the most extraordinary business visionaries of our times. Each of them has introduced unique products that changed – or in Mr. Musk’s case, have huge potential to change – the way we live.


What disheartens me is how little care and appreciation any of them give (or in Mr. Jobs’s case, gave) to hard-working and loyal employees, and how unnecessarily cruel and demeaning they could be to the people who helped make their dreams come true.


Given the extraordinary success of these men, the obvious question is whether being relentlessly hard on people, and even cruel, may get them to perform better.

Like their biographers, I think the answer is no. Our research at the Energy Project has shown that the more employees feel their needs are being met at work – above all, for respect and appreciation – the better they perform.

Here's how these three "visionary" leaders treated their employees and/or others:

As Mr. Isaacson writes of Mr. Jobs: “Nasty was not necessary. It hindered him more than it helped him.”


Mr. Jobs drove around without a license on his car, and he regularly parked in spaces reserved for the handicapped. As Mr. Ive said of his attitude, “I think he feels he has a liberty and a license to do that. The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don’t apply to him.”

Amazon employees collected examples of Mr. Bezos’s most eviscerating put-downs, including, “Are you lazy or just incompetent?” “Why are you wasting my life?” and “I’m sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?”

When Mr. Musk’s loyal executive assistant of 12 years asked for a significant raise, he told her to take a two-week vacation while he thought about it. When she returned, he told her the relationship wasn’t going to work anymore. According to Mr. Vance, they haven’t spoken since.

And of course all of this nastiness, this "I am the most special person on the planet and you will treat me as such!" stems from the egocentric belief these men had or have of their own so-called genius.

But Schwartz thinks there's another reason Jobs, Bezos and Musk act or acted so badly - out of fear:

People like these three visionaries deeply crave control. Each of them was far more likely to act out suddenly and behave poorly when he wasn’t getting exactly what he wanted — when he felt that others were failing to live up to his standards.

All three invested endless hours and energy in building and running their businesses — and far less in anything else, including taking care of the people who worked for them or even understanding what doing so might look like. To a large extent, people were simply a means to an end.

I understand what it is like to have one’s self entirely tied up with external success. No amount is ever quite enough. To a large extent, for these men, employees are simply a means to an end.

If you're a teacher these days, you know some of the drill that the people who work or worked for Jobs, Bezos and Musk know because some of the same personality types have been given the power to run school systems and schools themselves.

In the "visions" of the corporate education reformers, students are seen as "products," teachers are seen as a means to an end, control is the most sought-after goal and the only thing that truly matters is imposing an agenda and rigging the data to make it look successful.

Many education leaders these days are little versions of Bezos, Jobs and Musk - always without the "genius" or "vision," of course, though some education leaders think they have it - see Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Cami Anderson, et al. for the same delusional arrogance and egocentric patterns that Bezos, Jobs and Musk displayed.

But it doesn't really matter whether the Kleins and Rhees of the world have the "genius" or "vision" of Bezos or Jobs or not because a truly successful leader shouldn't be treating people like "products" or a "means to an end," a truly successful leader shouldn't be so obsessed with control and fear that they run roughshod over everybody and everything.

Schwartz concludes:

The question their management style raises is not whether being tough, harsh and relentlessly demanding gets people to work better. Of course it doesn’t, and certainly not sustainably. Can anyone truly doubt that people are more productive in workplaces that help them to be healthier and happier?

The more apt question is how much more these men could have enhanced thousands of people’s lives – and perhaps made them even more successful — if they had invested as much in taking care of them as they did in conceiving great products.

“Try not to become a man of success,” Albert Einstein once said, “but rather a man of value.”

It is time we stop fetishizing so-called corporate geniuses like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and other so-called "visionaries" (you can add many others to the list - Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates come immediately to mind) and call them exactly what they are - sociopaths who in the end do a lot more harm than good.

The same goes for the little versions in education - the Kleins, the Rhees, et al. - who for years have lived on the press of their "visions" and "genius" (think the TIME cover with Rhee on it holding the broom.)

But remember, you can't decry the sociopathology of the Kleins and Rhees of the education world while praising the "genius" and "vision" of sociopaths like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.

Gates is an easy one for people in the ed world to despise - his foundation's work to destroy public schools makes that an easy thing.

But Steve Jobs still gets fetishized by some for his "genius" and "vision".

Truly his "vision" was "@#$% you, I get my way or I destroy you!"

And that's the kind of vision we can do without these days - in or out of education.

For another example, see one Andrew Cuomo in Albany.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pathological Cuomo Just Can't Help Making Stuff Up

Governor Cuomo at a press conference on the shooting and killing of one of the escaped prisoners from the Clinton  Correctional Facility in Dannemora:

Cuomo has drawn mixed reviews for how he has publicly associated himself with the search in the last month, and his appearance at the press conference came after a day in New York City. Wearing a grey, two-button suit jacket but no tie, the governor stood next to D'Amico as he answered questions, but fielded just one inquiry himself about the cost of the search.

“There's no doubt that it's expensive, but there's also no doubt, in my opinion, that it is worth it. This is the first escape from this prison in the prison's history,” Cuomo said. “These are truly armed and dangerous people, and we will do what we have to do to bring them to justice.”

Governor Cuomo to ABC News on June 7:

The governor, who toured the prison Saturday, described the escaped convicts as "resourceful" and "dangerous." 
"This was the first breakout since 1865 and I want to make sure that it's the last," Cuomo said.

Interesting how Cuomo went from claiming this was the first prison breakout since 1865 to now claiming it's the first escape in the prison's history - all in the course of 19 days.

No matter, a NY Times report from June 9 shows he's wrong on both counts:

Since Clinton opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras.

The NY Times also ran a piece on June 9 about two inmates who escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in 1974 - one was caught in 1976, the other in 1980:

The Hamiltons seemed to make for an enviable family.

They lived in a sprawling brick house in Great Falls, Va., and drove around in a silver Mercedes. Neighbors knew the father of the family as Norm, a successful real estate investor and antiques dealer who shared stock market tips with his friends. The Washington-area police had a different name for him: a one-man crime wave.

Norm Hamilton was the unobtrusive creation of Bernard C. Welch Jr., a serial burglar who escaped from the grounds of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., decades before Richard W. Matt and David Sweat burrowed their way out last week. In 1974, Mr. Welch and a fellow inmate staged a less elaborate break, scaling a 20-foot cyclone fence and taking off for the anonymity of the Washington suburbs.

That other inmate, Paul Maturano, was caught in 1976 in West Virginia, but Mr. Welch parlayed the guise of Norm Hamilton, wealthy suburbanite, into a dodge that lasted until 1980. When the police searched Mr. Welch’s home, they seized 51 boxes of valuables. The loot, with an estimated value of millions, included candelabras, antique clocks and porcelain Hummel figurines.

Wouldn't it be great if reporters covering the Cuomo Prison PR Tour asked him why he keeps making up stuff about the prison break and the story keeps changing over time?

It's pathological that Governor Andrew Cuomo just can't the truth about this.

And really, to what end?

Friday, June 26, 2015

NYSUT DeclaresThe 2015 Legislative Session A Win, Says Lots More Wins To Come Next Time

From the "What drugs are these people on?" file:

The state’s largest teachers union said in a statement Friday that while there were “significant advances” for educators this session, they’ll be back next year for more.

The bill to end this year’s legislative session included several reforms to the state’s education policy coupled with rent regulations, property tax relief, and more.

Under the new law, test questions will be disclosed and available for teachers, though there have been conflicting reports as to whether they’re allowed to discuss it with colleagues and administrators.

A committee will also be tasked with reviewing curriculum, including the Common Core learning standards. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said yesterday they’ll be looking at whether state exams are age-appropriate and if the timeline of those tests is effective.


NYSUT chalks all of these changes of up as a win for this session, but says they’re committed to easing the burden on teachers and students that comes with state-mandated policies.

“The battle for the future of public education is far from over,” NYSUT said in a statement. “In concert with parents, NYSUT will continue to oppose over-testing, press for fair evaluations and redouble our efforts to provide students and educators, from pre-k through post-grad, with the tools they need to excel.”

The final deal did not include a delay for the development of a new teacher evaluation system, meaning districts who are not able to meet the requirements by the November deadline will have to apply for a waiver.

Lawmakers also ended up ditching a proposed $100 million for struggling schools as part of the deal, an idea pitched by Governor Cuomo earlier this month. Yonkers Public Schools will still receive $25 million in aid, but the remaining $75 million was left out.

But the governor did secure more aid for private and parochial schools. The Education Investment Tax Credit (or Parental Choice in Education Act) was not included, but $250 million will go to non-public schools to cover mandates from the state.

If this year's legislative session was a win with "significant advances," I'd hate to see what a loss looks like.

Let's review:

New evaluation system imposed by the governor meant to find more teachers "ineffective" and "developing" - Cuomo said the last one wasn't getting enough of those ratings.

Under the new system, test scores count for about 50% of a teacher's rating.

There is no delay on the new evaluation system deadline - it must be in place by November.

Teachers can now talk about the Common Core tests - but only after they have already been released to the public. 

NYSED has to put together a rubber stamp committee to review the Common Core standards - since the new NYSED commissioner is a huge fan, you can bet they won't find much wrong with them.

Cuomo had promised $100 million for "struggling" public schools north of NYC but instead came in with $250 million for private and parochial schools.

The charter cap was raised and charter schools can now save 15% of their slots for family members of employees and/or employees of the charter management organizations.

And of course none of the new evaluation changes count for charter schools - the new system only counts for public schools.

These are the "significant advances" NYSUT touts today.

Whatever they're smoking, it must be strong stuff because they're delusional about the "significant advances" and "wins" this session.

As usual, everything in AFT/UFT/NYSUT-land is a "win."

But this year was no win - it was a rout.

Working Families Party Sellouts Serve Up Some Self-Serving Jive

From the "Oh, please!" file:

At the time of its annual gala last year, the Working Families Party was agonizing over whether to deny Governor Andrew Cuomo its ballot line.

Ultimately the party endorsed him. But at this year's gala, members sounded regretful.

"This unsavory alliance between our governor and a Senate Republican conference propped up by real estate and hedge fund billionaires must be broken," said W.F.P. president Bill Lipton during his remarks. "We will hold the governor accountable for the promises he made last year. We have not forgotten those hard-won commitments."

"We made a decision [to endorse him] at the time because we believed that it was more important to flip the State Senate," he elaborated later to a few reporters. "We fell short, the governor did not do what we hoped—what he said—he was going to do to help us. He's admitted that. Obviously we're deeply disappointed and frustrated with that. I think us going forward, we don't forget these things. We're committed next year to actually flipping the Senate and picking up that agenda right where it left and pressuring the governor to work with us."

One of the "promises" WFP extracted from Cuomo in return for the WFP ballot nod was that Cuomo would work toward flipping the state Senate to Democrats.

It was clear even as Cuomo was making that promise that he had no intention of keeping it and did not want Republicans to lose control of the state Senate.

Cuomo worked closely with Senate Republicans during his first term on many of his proposals, including the SAFE Act, the property tax cap, and education reforms.

There was little doubt he wanted the Senate to remain in the hands of the GOP and would do little or nothing to fulfill his promise to WFP and de Blasio (who helped seal the deal between Cuomo and WFP.)

And of course that is exactly how things played out - Cuomo did nothing to help Dems, the GOP won the Senate outright (though the sellout Dems in the IDC continued to caucus with the GOP) and Cuomo continued to work very closely with Senate Republicans this legislative session - especially on rent regulation and education reform.

Lipton and the rest of the WFP elders (and their union funders who pushed for the Cuomo nod) are full of shit when they criticize Cuomo for selling out their interests.

It was clear this would happen last year when WFP was agonizing over whether to endorse Cuomo or not and their union funders were threatening the party with dissolution if they didn't.

If they wanted to stop Cuomo from screwing them, they should have done damage to him last May by putting Zephyr Teachout on their ballot and forcing Cuomo to take on both a GOP challenger and a challenger from the left in the general election in November.

So spare me when I hear the WFP sellouts talk about holding Cuomo accountable for the promises he made to them and broke.

It's self-serving bullshit from the WFP sellouts, nothing more, and Cuomo's laughing at it and them.

With Heavy Hearts, Assembly Dems Sell Out Once Again

With heavy hearts and forked tongues, most Assembly Dems voted yes on the end-of-session legislation that sold out tenants, NYC schools, and teachers, but Assemblyman Charles Barron had some choice comments on the floor:

ALBANY—There so much in the bill it was hard to debate. So after Republicans in the Assembly highlighted some of the more unseemly aspects of the omnibus “big ugly” bill that tied up the loose ends of the state legislative session late Thursday night, members of the Democrat-dominated chamber approved it by a 122-13 vote.


Despite reservations and private grumbling—and the denunciation of tenant advocacy groups—most Democratic members of the chamber kept their complaints out of the floor debate. Only a few, including Assemblyman Charles Barron of Brooklyn, rose to outline concerns.

“There's too much of the protection for the tenants that was watered down,” he said. “I am disappointed. I know you feel in negotiations that you go as far as you think you can go. You can talk about the Republican Senate, the Republican governor. For me, the governor is a disgrace, what he's allowed to get away with.”

Indeed the governor is a disgrace, both as a human being and in what he is allowed to get away with, but frankly, some of that second category could be mitigated if the Heavy Hearts Club in the Assembly stood up to him.

Alas, they are cowards and sellouts and so, once again, in the end, Cuomo gets his way on legislation and policy.

Same old story, over and over and over again...

Gag Order On Educators Discussing Contents Of Common Core Tests Remains

 From State of Politics:

Contrary to lawmakers’ claims, the Big Ugly did not end the State Education Department’s so-called “gag order” policy that prevents administrators and teachers from discussing the contents of state exams.

The Capital NY piece is behind a paywall, but here's the gist:

It had been rumored that the end of session legislation bill would allow teachers and administrators  to talk about the tests after they were over.

But the gag order, in essence, remains.

You can talk about the tests after they have been released.

Gee, thanks.

That' change at all, really...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cuomo Gives Charter School Employees 15% Of Charter School Slots

Capitol Confidential has some of the surprises in the big end-of-session omnibus bill that was announced today and here's one that says everything you need to know about Cuomo's love of charter schools:

  • Charter schools can give admission preferences to the children of employees of either the school or a charter management organization as long as those students don’t form more than 15 percent of the student body.

This is an interesting new move for the charter people, because what it suggests is that they will move even more in the future to make the city-housed and state-funded charters into their own fiefdoms run for and by themselves - but all on the public dime, of course.

Expect the 15% requirement to go up in the future and for charters to further use this regulation to keep out students they don't want (i.e., students who will hurt their test score numbers.)

Cuomo "Source" Criticizing De Blasio Appears To Be Cuomo Himself

Tell me who this sounds like?

ALBANY — After 18 months in office, Mayor de Blasio still is clueless in his dealings with Albany, a top Cuomo administration official said Wednesday.

"He is more politically oriented in terms of his approach ... and then he makes it almost impossible for him to achieve success," the Cuomo official said.

On mayoral control, De Blasio initially sought to make the law permanent even while knowing the Senate Republicans, who have been feuding with the mayor, had made it clear they were not considering a long-term extender, the source said.

"He kept banging at it and now it's going to be seen as a loss," the Cuomo administration official said.
It didn't help that the mayor misread the support on the issue from the Assembly Democrats, who did not expend much political capital on the issue.

"How did the mayor think he was going to get mayoral control? 'Well the Assembly will support me.' They didn't," the Cuomo source said. "I think he puts himself in these situations."

And on the 421-a tax program:

"He's Mr. Progressive (yet) you just leave out labor. And labor organized in a way that was so effective that even the Republicans sided with organized labor, which I've never seen," the Cuomo official said.

The Cuomo source denied that the governor has gone out of his way to embarrass the mayor at times. Earlier this year, a Cuomo spokeswoman immediately shot down an affordable housing plan the mayor put forward in his state-of-the-city address.

The source said the governor needs to make it clear quickly when a plan is unworkable. “Otherwise you're the one who winds up with the blame" when it doesn't go through, he said.

Check out the rest of the quotes from the Cuomo "source" in the Ken Lovett piece in the Daily News.

The wording, the structure of the sentences, the language used - sure sounds like, well...

Something that Capitol Confidential echoed:

As did the Capital NY Morning Email:

-- An unnamed Cuomo official, with an eerily familiar tendency to ask himself questions and then answer them, told the Daily News that de Blasio doesn’t quite get Albany.

Cuomo supposedly called a bunch of reporters after the "framework" announcement for end-of-the-session business to tout the success of the agreement (which actually hasn't been finalized yet.)

It sounds to me like one of those calls went to Ken Lovett and the governor got very, very, very, very critical of his "friend" Bill de Blasio in the conversation.

It was just 13 months ago that de Blasio secured the Working Families Party nomination for Cuomo, helping the governor avoid a third party challenge in the general election in November 2014.

Cuomo has paid de Blasio back by slapping him at every turn, at times grandstanding over him publicly, at other times leaking negative items to the press anonymously.

In addition, Cuomo has gone out of his way to make sure that de Blasio's political agenda was defeated - and thus de Blasio himself was "defeated" during the legislative session.

It is extraordinary that Cuomo was so open in his criticism of de Blasio, so naked about the "source" of it.

The message from Cuomo to de Blasio is quite clear:

"You thought you had the upper hand last May when you "helped" me with WFP?

@#$% you, Bill.  I have the upper hand always - and I will use it to drive you into the dirt anytime I want."

What Changes Have Been Made To The Charter Cap?

Since the details of the "framework" that Cuomo, Heastie, and Flanagan agreed to for the end-of-the-session legislation have yet to be put into writing, no one's quite sure what the hell is in it.

It seems some details that were released a couple of days ago may still be up for negotiation - including the charter cap.

Here's the Buffalo News on that:

Sources say the property tax rebate program, as well as a deal to extend the state’s property tax cap program for an additional four years, were no longer subject to the kind of thorny negotiations still taking place over other issues at the Capitol.

But there was a furious round of last-minute negotiating Wednesday over the New York City rent-control laws and a program that provides tax incentives for downstate developers. Additionally, the sides were still discussing provisions relating to giving New York City several additional charter schools. The existing state cap on new charter schools would not be raised, but the charters of several shuttered schools upstate, including in Buffalo, would be transferred for use in New York City.

So how many new charters end up in NYC?

Still a little fuzzy, it seems.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Few Details On Common Core Test Transparency For Parents, Teachers

The Buffalo News on one of the items in the still-not-written "framework" between Cuomo, Heastie and Flanagan agreeing on end-of-the-session business:

Details also were fuzzy about a tentative agreement calling for more transparency for teachers and parents about state tests based on the Common Core Learning Standards. Flanagan said more information on the tests will be provided to teachers and parents.

Fuzzy details on transparency.

That's Cuomo's governing style in a nutshell.

Want to see the details?

You'll have to wait until after it's law.

Cuomo transparency.

Tenant Advocates Say Cuomo Will Pay For His Sellout

From Politics on the Hudson:

Tenant groups are irate over the four-year tenant control extension agreed to be Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders yesterday, saying up to 100,000 rent-regulated apartments could be at risk.
Alliance for Tenant Power, a community group, ripped Cuomo in particular for not pushing for a law that would protect tenants in rent-stabilized apartments.

“Cuomo made empty promises and lied repeatedly while helping the Senate Republicans advance a bill that is a massive giveaway to landlords,” Katie Goldstein, a leader of the Alliance for Tenant Power, said in a statement.

The group and others said the new changes would not provide enough protections from landlord harassment and higher rents.

“Cuomo will suffer big political consequences for his betrayal of tenants and Democrats and for solidifying his status as a Republican Governor,” Goldstein continued.


“This is a bad deal for tenants engineered by Gov. Cuomo and his billionaire-friendly Senate Republicans. We will lose up to 100,000 affordable apartments to deregulation, while the Governor and the Senate Republicans can go back to collecting large campaign checks from billionaire landlords like Leonard Litwin,” said Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change.

Count me as skeptical that “Cuomo will suffer big political consequences for his betrayal of tenants and Democrats and for solidifying his status as a Republican Governor," as Katie Goldstein said yesterday in her statement.

NYC Democrats and liberals have a co-dependent relationship with Cuomo - no matter how badly he screws them, they always seem to come back and cozy up to him one more time.

See the Working Families Party sellout from last year for the textbook example of that.

Success Academy Board Member Daniel Loeb Hosts $5,000 A Head Fundraiser For Andrew Cuomo

Governor Cuomo came through for charter schools once again this legislative session, raising the charter cap by 180 and imposing a ton of new mandates on public schools that do not count for charters (i.e., the teacher evaluation system.)

And so the charter school supporters will pay Cuomo back for his political largesse:

Hedge fund manager and charter school advocate Daniel Loeb is standing by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

On the evening of Saturday July 11, he and his wife Margaret Munzer Loeb will host a fund-raiser for Cuomo at their residence in East Hampton, according to an invitation sent out to multiple donors and acquired by Capital.

Individual tickets for what is billed as an "intimate reception" will cost $5,000 each, though host committee sponsorships "are available."

Loeb had no comment as to why he was fund-raising for the governor.

He and his wife have donated to the governor in the past.

The Third Point C.E.O. serves on the board of StudentsFirstNY, a pro-charter advocacy group whose board members also include former schools chancellor Joel Klein and Success Academy Charter Schools founder Eva Moskowitz.

Loeb also chairs Success Academy's board and is one of Moskowitz's most stalwart supporters and defenders.

The hedge fund managers/charter school supporters started paying Cuomo off with cash before he ran for governor and it continues all the way until today.

He's gotten more than $4.8 million dollars in contributions from 570 hedge fund managers since 2000.

In addition, some of those same hedge fund managers contributed millions to a charter school shell group called Families For Excellent Schools that ran ads and lobbied for charter causes on Cuomo's behalf. FES was the winner in "Who Spent The Most Money Lobbying?" competition, dropping $9.7 million in 2014 on lobbying expenditures.

Then there was the shadowy group called the Committee To Save New York that spent millions on pro-Cuomo ads touting the governor's agenda. The group raised $12 million dollars from just 20 donors to help Cuomo out politically.

CSNY closed up shop when the law was changed and donors and contributors had to be revealed, but you can bet that there were some of the same names on the CSNY list that are on the Families For Excellent Schools, Students FirstNY and Success Academies list.

And let's not forget that StudentsFirstNY helped create New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany, an independent expenditure committee that dropped $4.2 million in support of a Republican takeover of the New York State Senate - having Republicans in charge in the state Senate has helped Cuomo push through his pro-charter, anti-public school agenda.

Judging from how much they've paid him over the years and how they continue to pay him now, shilling for charter schools and education has been a very profitable enterprise for Andrew Cuomo.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

As Expected, Cuomo Screws NYC Renters And Schools

The inevitable Cuomo screw job on rent regulation came today:

New York City loses tens of thousands of affordable apartments each year to deregulation. Under the "framework" of an agreement to extend rent laws announced today by Governor Cuomo and the two leaders of the state legislature, the city will keep on losing them.

At a press conference this afternoon, the "Three Men In A Room," told reporters that the city's recently expired rent laws would be renewed for four more years.

Earlier this month, the Assembly passed a bill that would repeal the state's vacancy decontrol law, which allows landlords to jack up the rent on regulated apartments as soon as a tenant leaves and perpetuates a system of inequality.

That change was eliminated.

Instead, the leaders promised to do what they did in 2011: modestly increase the rent at which a rent-regulated apartment could be deregulated, from $2,500 to $2,700.

Reaction from Alliance for Tenant Power's Katie Goldstein:

Our worst fears about Governor Cuomo have been confirmed. He took no action at all to strengthen the rent laws. Cuomo made empty promises and lied repeatedly while helping the Senate Republicans advance a bill that is a massive giveaway to landlords. Cuomo’s Republican deal on rent will harm and endanger countless low-income and working-class households. Up to 100,000 rent-regulated apartments will be lost over the next four years because of Cuomo’s Republican deal. This four-year extender does nothing to empower tenants. In fact, it leaves the most vulnerable even more susceptible to landlord harassment and skyrocketing rents. Cuomo should change his party registration to Republican because he is not worthy of the Democratic Party and its most basic values. Cuomo will suffer big political consequences for his betrayal of tenants and Democrats and for solidifying his status as a Republican Governor.
We were right to challenge Cuomo at every turn and not trust him throughout our campaign for stronger rent laws. Cuomo never had any intention of introducing his own pro-tenant bill. We will now lose many more rent-regulated units because of Cuomo’s failure to deliver for tenants and for working families. Today Cuomo alienated and angered millions of New Yorkers. We look forward to helping a strong Democrat defeat Cuomo if he foolishly tries to run for a third term as Governor.

In addition to the screw job to tenants, Cuomo stuck it to public schools too - raising the charter cap by 180 (50 for the city, but since the statewide cap is nowhere near full, expect that some or all of those rest-of-the-state slots end up in NYC in the end), giving $250 million to private schools and extending the property tax cap for 4 years.

Another end-of-the-session screw job from Cuomo.

When do "liberals" in NYC finally abandon Andrew Cuomo and make him pay politically for screwing them?

Charter Cap Raised, Education Tax Credit Not In Legislative Agreement

State of Politics reports that Cuomo and the leaders of the respective houses in the legislature have a framework agreement "in concept" that extends rent control and the property tax cap for four years while it extends mayoral control of NYC schools for just one year.

In addition, there is this:

The cap on charter schools will be raised by 50 in the city and 130 elsewhere in the state.

And this:
The education tax credit — which was being pushed by private and parochial school backers, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan — was not agreed to, either. Instead, lawmakers and Cuomo announced a $250 million reimbursement program for mandated services at private and parochial schools.

More as we get it.

Chris Christie Approval Rating Hits Bottom - 30% Approval, 55% Disapproval

From Politico:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is still not winning any favor with Garden State voters, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind poll released Tuesday.

Christie, who is in the midst of planning a presidential run, has an approval rating of 30 percent, below what is usually expected for a White House hopeful in his own state, where 55 percent disapprove of his performance. His numbers are down from the last FDU poll in April, in which 36 percent of voters approved of the job he was doing, compared to 50 percent who did not.

Christie now has a lower approval rating than another GOP presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal.

Jindal's rating was 32% in a May 2015 poll.

30% approval, 55% disapproval, but he's still running for president.


After a few months of running for president, his New Jersey approval rating should fall into the twenties.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cuomo In Hiding For Eight Straight Days And Counting

Where oh where has Governor Cuomo gone?

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters on Monday morning he had a “nice conversation” with Gov. Andrew and his Republican counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader John Flanagan.

But agreements on an extension of rent control laws for New York City, as well as mayoral control of New York City schools and a real-estate tax abatement remain elusive.

“We’re talking, the governor, Senator Flanagan and I, we had a nice conversation this morning,” Heastie said after the hour-long meeting. “There’s no agreement, so for me to tell you something now, it could change.”


Heastie said he was unsure whether the Legislature would have to stay here for the rest of the week in order to secure a deal.

As for the governor, Cuomo has not been seen in a public venue since June 14, when he appeared at a news conference in Yonkers unveiling a $100 million struggling schools fund.

“That’s for you to ask him,” Heastie said when asked about Cuomo’s lack of visibility. “I have to represent the interests of the conference and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Why's Cuomo in hiding these past eight days?

He was so visible for a while there, hammering home the education tax credit issue.

Then came the Yonkers PR set piece where he introduced the $100 million for "struggling" schools above NYC fund, a fund that he said was not linked to his tax credit, and he hasn't been seen since.


Anybody got any idea why he's in hiding?

Cuomo Looking To Make It Easier For Charters To Reject Or Kick Out Students?

From Zack Fink, writing at State of Politics, over the end-of-session logjam between Governor Cuomo, the Assembly and the state Senate:

The Governor and Flanagan also want to make it even easier for charter schools to reject, and even kick out, students who don’t do well academically and might tarnish the pretty statistics charter schools often paint to suggest they present a much better alternative to traditional public schools.

But I thought the miracle workers at the charter schools had so much to teach the "failing" public schools about student "success."

If the governor and the senate majority leader want to make it easier for charters to reject or kick out students who don't do well academically, then it seems all the "success-meisters" at the charters have to teach us in public schools is that the key to success is attrition and a gatekeeping admissions policy.

Anybody else out there hearing that Cuomo and Flanagan want to give charters more freedom to dump or keep out students they don't want?

John Legend Decides Stoning Gay People And Women To Death Isn't So Bad After All

Ed deformer John Legend claims to have a social conscience but it turns out all he cares about his - cha-ching!!! - money:

In February, John Legend backed out of a party that Los Angeles Confidential was hosting to celebrate his magazine cover because of the location: the Beverly Hills Hotel. Since then, Legend seems to have had a change of heart over his stance on the hotel's boycott, which started in early 2014 when the owner, the Sultan of Brunei, passed Sharia law in his country, calling for the stoning of gays and adulterers.

On May 30, Legend performed in the hotel ballroom for the wedding reception of Daniel Landy and Alexandra Lippman, daughter of L.A. commercial realtor Jim Lippman. Instagrams from the affair, which featured a cake from New York and a 12-foot hydrangea wall, confirm that Legend sang his hit "All of Me"; according to a source, Legend sang two songs in total and received about $300,000. His reps didn't return a request for comment and a hotel rep says, "We never comment on private events."

When L.A. Confidential announced plans for the Feb. 5 bash, it was to be the first major entertainment industry party to be held at the hotel amid the widespread boycott. When Legend backed out, his rep told THR that her client didn’t agree with the Sultan’s “horrific” laws.

“These policies, which among other things could permit women and LGBT Bruneians to be stoned to death, are heinous and certainly don't represent John's values or the spirit of the event. John does not, in any way, wish to further enrich the Sultan while he continues to enforce these brutal laws,” the rep said.

If Legend doesn't support these policies, the stoning to death of gay people and women, why have a "change of heart" about performing at the Beverly Hills Hotel that is the target of a widespread boycott because the owner passed Sharia law in his country that calls for it?

Could it be because John Legend, the guy who plays the "loverman with a social conscience" is full of shit about the social conscience part?

Could it be because Legend only cares about the money (and $300K for singing two songs is nice work if you can get it, as the Gershwins once wrote)?

Could it be because John Legend is a hypocrite?

Could it be all three?

Whatever the case, the next time Legend shows up somewhere to preen on about his social conscience, don't forget to point out how full of shit he is by reminding him about his "change of heart" over boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Corruption Probe Hurting Cuomo's Campaign Fundraising

Fred Dicker in the Post:

Bharara’s corruption probe, which led to the indictment of two legislative leaders this year, has also “seriously impacted” the governor’s fund-raising ability by making potential contributors with issues before Cuomo’s office wary that they could be accused of seeking a quid pro quo, the fund-raiser said.

Solicitors working for Cuomo’s campaign committee, responding to the Bharara probe, have also apparently put the brakes on what had once been “a frantic, high-pressure” effort to raise funds for the governor.

“It used to be horrible, the Cuomo people were always pushing, pushing, pushing for money, more money, like crazy men,” said the fund-raiser. “But now they’ve backed off and I think that has a lot to do with Bharara’s investigation.”

How does a sitting governor get a $45 million dollar warchest to dispatch an underfunded opponent in a re-election campaign?

By having his people "always pushing, pushing, pushing for money, more money, like crazy men."

Perhaps all that pushing for money has raised the interest of the US attorney and scared off the governor's money people?

Perhaps the governor's donors are afraid to give money for fear of attracting said US attorney's interest?

Perhaps the governor's donors are starting to see the governor as less relevant and useful, since the corruption probes that took down Silver and Skelos and may yet take down Cuomo have weakened the governor's ability to impose his will (i.e., his donor's interests) on the state?

Perhaps it's a combination of all three?

Cuomo will release his updates campaign numbers in mid-July, so we'll get a better sense then.

Cuomo Siding With Senate Republicans Against NYC Tenants

Jimmy Vielkind at Capital NY:

ALBANY—With the legislative session now in overtime and lawmakers still at stalemate, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been at the Capitol, out of the public eye and out of the fray, present but unaccounted for.


The governor's absence has fueled suspicion among Democrats that Cuomo, the de facto head of their party, is siding more closely with Republicans in the State Senate as lawmakers negotiate the renewal of rent regulations in New York City.

“I think he's schooling us. I think he really, fundamentally sides with the landlords,” said Mike McKee, the longtime treasurer of Tenants PAC, an advocacy group. “From what I hear—and this is all second-hand, because we're not in the room—he's been laughable in terms of tenant protection.”

Gee, who'd a thunk "Governor Glenwood" would be looking to screw NYC tenants for his landlord donors behind the scenes?

You can pay Cuomo back for his betrayal, NYC residents, by doing this.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

NYC Residents Need To Pay Cuomo Back For His Betrayal On Rent Regulations

Governor Cuomo is holding rent regulations in NYC hostage to his education tax credit giveaway to his billionaire buddy friends - no tax credit, bye-bye rent regulations.

This is not sitting well with tenant advocates who protested outside a $2500 a head Cuomo fundraiser at the Plaza Hotel:

"I'm here because of the rent," said Margie Trisbend, a 70-year-old Bronx resident. "For years, I was paying $723. Last month, it went up to $1,574. If I can't afford my rent, where am I going to go?" Trisbend was skeptical of Cuomo's commitment to renters. "He's not acting in good faith," she said. "He's acting in favor of the landlords."

Carrying banners that mocked the Governor's $1.5 million campaign donation from ethically embroiled real-estate giant Glenwood Management, the crowd stood in a pen of police barricades across from the hotel, chanting "La renta sube sube! El pueblo sufre sufre!"

In recent days, Cuomo has said that he is willing to strengthen rent protections—but only if the legislature agrees to a tax incentive that shunts public money into private schools, a plan his critics point out is especially attractive to the billionaires who donate to his campaigns at events like yesterday's.

"He wants to take money from the poor and give it to the rich," said Everett Stembridge, 57, a Harlem parent of public high school students.

"Our public schools are underfunded. We need money," said Mindy Rosa, a public school teacher. "Why should I pay for private schools, pay for charter schools, when my schools don't have our resources?"

But you have a weapon against Cuomo and his betrayals:

Jean Folkes, a 73-year-old member of the Flatbush Tenant's Association, who has lived in her neighborhood since moving to the country in 1969, wanted to speak directly to the Governor. "Cuomo, where is your humanity? Did money eat your humanity?" she asked. "We have elephant memories. We'll see to it that you lose if you run again. Enjoy your last two and a half years in Albany, if you're not indicted before then."

Yes, holding him accountable if he tries to run for re-election is one way to pay Cuomo back for his betrayal.

But three years is a long time to wait for payback - there's something NYC residents can do right now to pay back Cuomo for his betrayal.

Cuomo's poll numbers have fallen to all-time lows in all three major polls - the Siena poll, the Marist poll, and the Quinnipiac poll.

His support upstate is in the toilet, he has lukewarm support at best in the suburbs - the only thing propping him up from falling below Spitzer levels is the support he enjoys in NYC.

Cuomo's currently set to screw NYC residents by destroying tent regulations if he doesn't get his way on his education tax credit.

Isn't it time NYC residents pay the governor back by withdrawing support and sending him plummeting past the Spitzer line?

Some commenters on this blog think Cuomo doesn't care about poll numbers so long as he's got the support, both political and financial, of his wealthy donors.

I don't think that's the case

Believe me, when the headlines come that Cuomo's in the mid-to high-twenties in job approval because his NYC support has cratered, he'll be paying attention.

Nothing takes a politician closer to irrelevancy faster than poll numbers in the twenties.

That doesn't mean Cuomo won't still try and impose his preferred policies on the state if he falls below the Spitzer line.

But it's a lot harder to be successful at that when you're at 25% approval.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

NY Times Doesn't Get That Full Literary Works Aren't Read In English Class Anymore

There's a pro-Common Core article in the NY Times today that makes the claim that Common Core has forced English teachers to teach something other than fiction and literature in English class and by golly, it's good.

The piece sets up a straw man argument that teachers only taught literature in English class before - and often badly at that, but Common Core forces them to teach lots of much more informative non-fictional texts in concert with literature:

Some teachers have resisted the changes. At Midwood High School in Brooklyn this year, the new assistant principal for English, Suzane Thomas, made the English teachers use the Common Core lesson plans offered by New York State, and some were not happy.

“There are several teachers who accused me of destroying the English department,” Ms. Thomas said. Previously, she said, teachers had been able to choose which books they wanted to teach, and many of them taught only literature. (She also noted that some teachers had taught the same books each year, no matter which grade they were teaching, so some students were being assigned the same books over and over again.)

Ms. Thomas said she believed many students were more interested in talking about real-world issues like genetic testing than about how a character changed over the course of a novel.

“I was in a class once and the bell rang, and the kids wouldn’t leave, because they were having a strong debate about whether privacy was more important than security,” she said.

That's right - before Common Core, teachers never paired non-fiction texts with the literature their classes were reading, they just taught the same books over and over again whether the students had already read them or not.

The Times reporter notes that because students are reading much more non-fiction in English class, some fiction has been cut, but she glosses over the real problem here -  that some students are going to come through the Common Core Era having read little or no full-length literary works at all.

Many schools are closely following the EngageNY ELA curriculum to get students ready for the ELA Common Core state test next year.

EngageNY does not value reading whole works of fiction at all - it picks and chooses parts of larger works, couples these excerpts with poetry, literary non-fiction or informational non-fiction, then focuses on close reading, annotation and evidence-based discussion and writing lessons that take the life out of the literature.

Back in 2013, I posted about an EngageNY module for 9th graders that spent 17 class days on one short story, Karen Russell’s “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.”

Here is how students "engaged" with the text:

The first day, they're excited to start a new lesson and read a story that seems to be about werewolves.

By the third day, they're bored by reading and discussing the same story for three days straight and starting to get antsy.

By the sixth day, they're outwardly hostile to the lessons and the teacher for teaching the lessons.

By the ninth day, they're totally disengaged from class and talk openly about how much they hate English.

By the twelve day, they no longer give a shit about anything - not the class, not the story, not the teacher, not the "assessment" (i.e., "test" for those of you who aren't fluent in reformy geekspeak) that is coming up on Day Seventeen.

By the seventeenth day, students complete the "assessment" with little regard to how they do on it because they stopped caring about the entire process somewhere between the end of Day Four and the beginning of Day Five.

Talk about taking the life out of the art - EngageNY certainly does that.

But what's worse, students who've been taught straight up from the EngageNY curriculum haven't read a full work of literature in high school.

Here was how one high school ELA teacher described the EngageNY curriculum and its approach to full works:

As a 9th grade ELA teacher following the Engage NY Curriculum, I have seen first hand how destructive it really is. For three weeks we have been close reading one story! For the first time, my 9th grade students are completely disengaged. How many times can you annotate the same passage?

I also believe now that these units are actually lowering the rigor of my class. We are now into the second marking period and have read one story and written zero essays. At this point last year my 9th grade class had written two essays, read 5 short stories, and were halfway through their first novel, and we were having fun doing it.

The end of the opening unit has students reading (only key scenes) from Romeo and Juliet and then showing the Baz Lerhman film to supplement. How is reading 5 scenes from Romeo and Juliet, rather than the whole play, more rigorous?

That same teacher has told me he has taught that same cohort of students in 10th grade and will be following them into 11th grade.

Students have been taught one EngageNY module each semester for a total of four EngageNY modules.

They have read a full work of literature only because the teachers revolted and pointed out that if they kept following the EngageNY modules, students wouldn't be reading a full work of literature ever in high school English class.

They would have read about 20% of Romeo and Juliet, but that's not reading the full work.

They would have read part of The Joy Luck Club, but that's not reading the full work.

They would have read most of Macbeth, but not quite all, as EngageNY jumps around a bit to focus on skills-based learning like close reading and argumentative writing on different parts of the play.

Reading a whole work of literature to nourish the soul, engage the spirit, encourage thought and reflection, jar some memory of shared experienced or, God forbid, take an opinion upon that isn't "rigorously" based in a close reading of the text - that's not part of high school English class anymore.

If it's not skills-based with an eye toward work-based skills, it pretty much isn't taught.

That's because the New York State ELA Common Core test contains lots of reading, 24 difficult multiple choice questions based upon those readings, an argumentative essay based upon four difficult (often arcane) informational texts, and one literary non-fiction reading that requires students to find a "central idea" in the text and show how it's developed through some literary device.

With teachers now having their careers tied to the scores from these tests, schools slated for state takeover if the test scores are bad, and students needing a 75 or higher in order to attend a four year CUNY school, it behooves to focus only on the skills that are tested and leave everything else out.

Reading full works of literature for pleasure and wonder?

Gone from the curriculum - at least if it's the NY State EngageNY curriculum. 

Students writing personal responses to the literature they've read so that they can make some connections between themselves and the characters?

Gone from the curriculum - at least if it's the NY State EngageNY curriculum. 

Students writing their own creative works to express themselves?

Gone from the curriculum - at least if it's the NY State EngageNY curriculum.

As an ELA teacher, I have no problem teaching non-fiction texts, either on their own or in concert with literature.

I do resent when a reporter for the NY Times writes a piece that is so full of pro-Common Core propaganda and PR bits that it sounds as if ELA Common Core architect David Coleman wrote it.

This Times piece makes it sound like the reason why some children and parents are finding Common Core English Language Arts dreary and soul-sucking is because schools and teachers aren't finding the right kinds of non-fiction to pair with literature to give students a broad experience with reading and writing.

The truth is, because the Common Core test in NY State assesses a certain kind of learning - close reading, mostly nonfiction reading, and argumentative writing (the argumentative essay on the CCSS test is worth a lot more than the literary analysis essay) - and because there are so many high stakes attached to the tests for students, teachers and schools, much of the wonder, excitement and allure of English class of old has been replaced by dreary, rote skills-based learning.

As an ELA teacher, I'm not opposed to teaching skills-based learning, indeed, I actually enjoy this and think it's a very important part of education, but it's also nice to have the freedom to teach a full work of literature that helps students to develop socially, emotionally and creatively too.

In the Era of the Common Core and the high stakes Common Core tests, that cannot be done anymore

Would have been nice if the NY Times reporter could have gotten into the story that we're going to have a whole generation of children come of age who haven't read much - or any - full length literature.

It will be interesting to see what the consequences of that will be in the decades to come.