Another day of meetings and professional development.
This year will be extra special since just last week, Governor Cuomo announced he was putting together yet another education commission/panel (the third since early 2014) to review the Common Core State (sic) Standards, the Common Core tests and the Common Core curriculum (EngageNY).
Hey, nothing like announcing a full review a couple of days before school starts, right?
Those tests you'll be talking about preparing your students for today so that you don't get declared an "ineffective" teacher and fired - well, Cuomo says he wants them "reviewed" (whatever that means.)
And that EngageNY curriculum that you're going to roll your eyes at today when it's handed to you at a teacher meeting because it has you spending 17 days on one short story - that's under review too.
Those Common Core State (sic) Standards you'll spend time talking about today, well, Cuomo's not so sure they're being implemented right and they just might need to be tweaked or changed or overhauled.
In short, you're starting the year with yet more uncertainty and change on the horizon, because the change in the standards, the high stakes testing, the curriculum and the evaluation system over the past few years wasn't enough change and now we'll need more of it.
Steve McLaughlin put all of this in perspective with a tweet (as McLaughlin is so good at doing):
Cuomo's act is the same every time; insist something be done fast, wreak havoc, deny responsibility, then claim he'll fix it. #CommonCore— Steve McLaughlin (@SteveMcNY) September 7, 2015
And that's exactly what we have again this year.
The one thing on the education agenda Cuomo doesn't want reviewed is the APPR teacher evaluation system he shoved through in the budget, the one that makes test scores 50% of a teacher's rating and gives districts the discretion to fire teachers for two consecutive "ineffective" ratings and forces districts to fire teachers for three consecutive "ineffective" ratings.
That he doesn't want APPR reviewed even though the evaluation system is based in part upon teachers being able to teach the Common Core State (sic) Standards that are currently under review and the Common Core curriculum that is currently under review (EngageNY) as well as garner high test scores from their students on the Common Core tests that are also under review says a lot about how this year is going to go.
That evaluation system got shoved through last budget though almost nobody other than Cuomo's education reformer/hedge fundie donors wanted it and now Cuomo refuses to let it go.
Indeed, he is on record calling that system the "bedrock" of his education reform agenda, so you know it will be the kind of thing that has to be clawed out of his cold, handcuffed hands.
The new evaluation system is supposed to be in place by November or districts lose an increase in state aid, though there is a waiver system in place for districts that have a "hardship" in coming to an agreement under that timeline.
In any case, as the year starts, teachers do not know whether they will be evaluated under the old system or the new system and they don't know if the Common Core State (sic) Standards, Common Core curriculum and Common Core tests are going to get tweaked, changed or completely overhauled by Cuomo's vaunted third education commission/panel that will meet in the near future and hand Cuomo recommendations that he can announce in January.
Given all the uncertainty, this would seem to be an excellent time to step back and say "Time out!" from all the accountability measures for teachers and schools, but of course that isn't going to happen.
Indeed, Renewal Schools that the state has targeted for receivership have either one or two years to "improve" or get handed over to a charter operator or some other outside entity, all this uncertainty and change to the system be damned.
Same goes for teachers declared "ineffective" in the 2014-2015 year - get another "ineffective" rating and your district can fire you in an expedited process.
It doesn't matter that the whole system is under review, that all the reforms that got shoved through and implemented faster than you can say 3020a disciplinary process are falling apart and need to be "reviewed".
That's because the one real goal Cuomo has with public education - to "bust" the public school monopoly (here and here) - continues to be served by all the havoc Cuomo and his reformer buddies at the Regents and NYSED create with their half-baked schemes and reforms.
So welcome back, teachers, to another fear-filled year, another year of uncertainty and churn, another year where the powers that be look to destroy you, your school, your profession and public education.
As Sgt. Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues used to say: