I know I am, but Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch is still arguing that.
Here she is in a Jessica Bakeman article about how much people hate the Race to the Top reforms saying that it was a failure to adequately communicate that brought about all the problems in the state's education reform rollout:
Education officials who have been and are still fierce advocates of the changes argue the current public tumult is the result not of broad failure but a specific strategic mistake they made: inadequate communication.
Because they didn’t impress upon teachers and parents how drastic the changes were and how acutely they’d be felt, political opponents like the unions had an opening to begin a war against the reforms that continues even as the final dollars from New York’s sizeable grant award are spent.
“This was one that I take responsibility for," said Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch, who led the powerful education policymaking panel throughout the application process and full implementation of Race To The Top. "We did not use any of the money to engage parents and let them know why we were moving to such a radical change. We did not use enough of the money to engage teachers early on to explain the rationale, and so this came at them fast and furious. … Therefore, other people were able to misinterpret the significance of what was going on, and it all came down to test scores.”
The Tisch statement is thick with jive, of course - the reason the state didn't engage parents to let them know why they were moving to such a radical change is because they didn't want anybody to know that was what was coming.
Same goes for why they didn't engage teachers to explain the rationale for the radical changes or give them a heads-up on the changes that were coming "fast and furious."
Tisch and the state's education establishment, like the education reformers who shoved the Common Core Federal Standards and attendant testing consortia onto much of the country, didn't want any opposition to the radical change they bringing onto the education system, so they tried to make these changes with as little fanfare as possible until it was too late for people to do anything about them.
The goal behind the state reforms was to destroy the public school system, to ratchet up the "standards" a few grades levels in every grade, impose some new tests based upon those ratcheted up standards and fail two-thirds of the students who took the new tests in order to declare the teachers and schools around the state in need of radical reform.
This was supposed to cause panic among parents, who would think their kids, who just the year before were doing fine in school, suddenly were being "left behind" by their failing schools and failing teachers, and bring about widespread calls for radical change to the education system from them.
Only it didn't work out that way.
It turned out most parents trusted their local schools and children's teachers over the state educrats and politicians, so that when they saw the ratcheted up standards, the radical new curriculum that stripped full books out of English class and made math into something incomprehensible, the new tests that were needlessly complex and devised for ailure, they sided with teachers, not with the educrats.
Changing the teacher evaluation system concurrent to the shoving through the standards and new testing battery only exacerbated matters, because teachers were suddenly being rated upon scores from these new tests and subject to losing their jobs if the scores weren't so hot.
This is when the opt-out movement came of age, with parents holding their kids out from the state tests to protest a whole host of different issues - from the Endless Testing regime to the Common Core to the teacher evaluation system based upon the tests - a movement given even more power when Andrew Cuomo imposed even more draconian changes to the evaluation system this year and made test scores 50% of teachers' ratings.
And still Tisch tries to explain, parents just don't understand.
Tisch isn't the only educrat arguing this jive that it was a failure to communicate that brought about all the problems, btw:
Ken Slentz, former deputy education commissioner, said the department realized too late its failure to communicate.
“When we came around to that, the proverbial well had already become so poisoned, we were already in a defensive position,” said Slentz, who left the department last year to lead a small Finger Lakes school district.
What Ken fails to realize is, they were in a defense position not because they failed to adequately communicate the changes that were coming but because their position was indefensible.
They planned for radical change to the education system, knew that there would be pushback if they announced these changes beforehand, so they tried to shove this stuff through on the sly in that hopes that once everything was in place, there was little people could do to fight it.
How wrong they were - New York State parents have led the way in the fight against radical corporate education reform, the Endless Testing regime and the Common Core Federal Standards.
Tisch, the educrats at NYSED, the union heads who supported Race to the Top and the attendant changes, the politicians who voted for the funding - they're all trying to rewrite the history of the radical education reforms that were imposed on the students, parents, teachers and schools of this state, but the truth is, the opposition to these reforms comes not from a failure to communicate the rationale for them (which reformers didn't want to do, lest they tip off hand that they were about to blow up the system) or the implementation of the reforms (which union heads and pols say was problematic and therefore the root of the opposition from parents and teachers.)
No, the truth is, there was no buy in to the radical RttT reforms in much of the state because there wasn't a need for them - the schools in much of the state are just fine, the kids are doing all right, the teachers are excellent and respected by the parents and communities they serve.
The politicians and educrats knew there wouldn't be buy-in beforehand, but they wanted to impose their radical agenda no matter what, so they shoved it threw as surreptitiously as they could, then tried to push back against the mounting opposition by claiming the state's education system was a disaster that needed radical change.
Fortunately parents around the state were more likely to trust their local teachers than they were Merryl Tisch or John King or Andrew Cuomo, and so opposition to the reforms was mounted and has spread like wildfire since.
The Regents and NYSED are in the midst of a "rebrand" of the reforms now - they brought in a new face for NYSED (who said she plans to "repaint" the standards so that parents like them better), they're changing their rhetoric a bit, but they're not fooling anybody.
Parents and teachers know the radical education reform agenda continues apace here in New York State, no matter the words that come out of SED or the Board of Regents these days, and the opposition to the reforms continues apace too.