Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cuomo Brings Critic Of State Education Policy Into His Administration

Cuomo feeling the heat from parents and teachers?

ALBANY - Bedford schools Superintendent Jere Hochman is joining Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet as his top education aide.

Hochman, who has headed the Bedford school district since 2008, will leave to become Cuomo’s deputy secretary for education, Gannett’s Albany Bureau has learned.

“Dr. Hochman brings tremendous experience and an in-depth knowledge of the public education system to his new role,” Cuomo said in a statement. “He has spent his career working to strengthen learning environments and make schools a better place for all, and he will be a valuable member of our policy team.”

A former English teacher and school principal, Hochman will become the Democratic governor’s top education adviser at a time when the state’s implementation of the Common Core education standards continues to receive criticism from parents and teachers.


Hochman has been critical of state education policies in the past. Last year, he said the Common Core has become too tied to a “culture of testing” and questioned whether it would need to be revamped.

“The whole accountability, ‘gotcha’ culture is so out of control that we need a fresh start,” Hochman told The Journal News in September of last year. “The standards are OK, but every problem is connected to the Common Core. New York needs to take a bold stance so we can focus on educating kids.”

It's an interesting appointment, that's for sure.

But I'm not ready to believe this means a real change in policy is coming from Andrew "I will break the public schools" Cuomo, even if he's promised "a lot of changes" to education policy coming up.

As Nate said on twitter:

There's still a lot of campaign donations in Cuomo's coffers, with more promised, if he continues to push a privatization agenda.

One thing is certain though - Cuomo is clearly worried about his polling numbers, which are dismal overall and especially dismal on education.

Can you imagine him appointing a critic of state education policy and testing even last year?


  1. I posted this over on D.R.'s blog earlier when she reported this:

    Only questions that matter on this:

    1) what is Hochman’s position on VAM-APPR?

    2) what is his position on Common Core/reform movement?

    3) what is his position on opt out?

    …if any of the answers to these questions are halfway, Hochman is not an advocate of ours.

    Other questions:

    1) how much real access and influence will be have to/on Cuomo? (Is it just an empty position that Cuomo is filling with a Westchester guy?)

    2) I vaguely recall a time before this reform thing, when school/district admin. were teachers’ real enemies and who worked tirelessly to limit out pay, increase out workload, deprofessionalize us, marginalize our interests in the community, and generally jam teachers up as much as possible. That Hochman is an “educator” has little weight here to me. How was he as a school and district admin? That’s what counts. That he was once a classroom teacher matters waaaaay less. (Going to “the dark side” of admin usually negates the positives of being a teacher!) What was his record with teachers as an admin?

    1. correction: OUR pay...OUR workload...not out. I'm a dolt.

  2. "...too tied to a culture of testing."

    "The whole accountability, ‘gotcha’ culture is so out of control that we need a fresh start" move towards answering some of my questions above. Lets look at these two quotes above.

    "Too tied" to a culture of testing is not an indictment of a culture of testing per se. It suggest that he believes we need to back off. This is a half-way, not-really-on-our-side stance. Not only is everything TOO TIED to a culture of testing, the CULTURE and the TESTING are toxic, corporate-imposed, and based on nothing except a privatizing goal of damning teachers and their unions.

    Gotcha culture "fresh start." This quote of his is really revealing when you look at it. Nowhere did he say he believes that VAM-APPR is a bad idea in and of itself. Nowhere did he say that, perhaps, the culture of "teacher accountability" is a false narrative, false idea, and again, corporate-privatizer imposed to intentionally oust a generation of organized teachers. Instead, we need a fresh start in his view....a reset if the basic tenets and ideas of teacher accountability, VAM-APPR are fundamentally sound but need a re-do. God forbid he say "its a very difficult proposition to rate and judge teachers and in NO WAY should tests, corporate-jargon-based observations, or any other interest-imposed structure be used as a basis for them....maybe we need to start back where we were, locally negotiated teacher evaluations that can only lead to a 3020A for deeply egregious problems, bold misconduct, and an incompetence on many levels over many years. We need fearless teachers."

    So as of right now, I do not see Hochman as an advocate of ours.

    You have to read these sonsabitches real, real close. The devil lurks in the details.

    1. I am with you 8:14.

      Abigail Shure

  3. I'm skeptical, too. But, I know where this guy comes from. He got his start in a district that is actually known for firing Principals who don't get a long with teachers. So, when he says no more gotcha, I believe he means it.

    The question is whether Hochman is able to meaningfully put his foot down in Cuomo's cabinet. And, we will only know that when we see policy changes. If I were Hochman, I'd tell Cuomo, "I ain't setting foot in the dog-and-pony show circuit until I have a commitment from you on this, this, and this. I can only sell what I believe."

  4. Lets be clear here though....Cuomo IS NOT interested in turning back, starting over, tossing out reform, or making things right at long last with education and teachers.

    Cuomo is interested in keeping reform alive in NY into the near future and deeper future. This whole thing with Hochman, committees, etc etc etc DOES NOT signify a change in direction for Cuomo on education AT ALL. It simply signals his efforts to keep reform, the reform agenda, and teacher-destroying alive and moving forward.

    With Hochman it seems that Cuomo has an education "insider" who probably agrees with the larger bulk of the of Cuomo's thinking but who has practical experience in maintaining a relationship with parents and teachers that is calm.

    I see NOTHING that points to Hochman as a real critic of the reform movement and defender of teachers. I see someone who can communicate, say the correct things to calm teachers and parents, but is inevitably doing Cuomo's work. Cuomo has no interest in turning back from his agenda. Why would be pick someone for this position who did not?

    These folks are highly skilled at saying what people want to hear and very subtly NOT saying certain things. I have been a teacher dealing with all of this reform nonsense for long enough to realize that unless they say CLEARLY, LOUDLY, AND SPECIFICALLY exactly what I want to hear, then they are probably out to do my career harm.

    Its not like Hochman is going to get more clear and crisp, more loudly against reform as his time goes on in the Cuomo admin. He didn't say the specific things I wanted to hear today, and that means he likely never will.

    His job is to make the pill easier to swallow.

    Basic smell test: What legit, self-respecting, anti-reformer of ANY strip would accept a position in Cuomo's cabinet? Really.

  5. I hear you. I think this announcement, no matter how shocking in the near term, only reaches insiders. And even with us, it's impact fades in less than a day. No change in policy means no change in poll numbers. Opt-outs continue.

    That said, I don't think Cuomo has to change policy until there is a credible challenger. He is *very* vulnerable. But, unless someone takes advantage of that vulnerability, then who cares? His poll numbers could be crap, as they are, and yet he would still get re-elected. No one opposes him. Shit, all you have to do to take his place is call him corrupt, call him inept on education, and promise to do better. Viola, you win. No amount of financial backing on his part could beat you if you are even a halfway serviceable candidate. Hell, Bill DeBlasio could beat Cuomo right now.

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