New York educators and legislators are hopeful the passage of a bipartisan education bill in the House of Representatives this week will convince the state to abandon the more controversial aspects of its own education reform.
The bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act, dismantles George W. Bush's signature No Child Left Behind Act and shifts authority over the nation's public schools from the federal government back to states and local school districts. Not only does it let states to decide whether student test scores are an appropriate way to evaluate teachers or assess schools, but it also prohibits the federal government from mandating or even incentivizing states to adopt learning standards like the Common Core.
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, called the bill a major step forward in reducing federal overreach in classrooms and in empowering states and localities. The bill gives New York the flexibility to decide how it wants to test its children and evaluate teachers, he said.
"The ball is now clearly in the governor's court," he said. "We have so many parents and teachers and students that have been upset with Common Core. Well, this bill allows states to withdraw from Common Core without penalty. In addition, the state has taken a heavy-handed approach to schools that are failing, and that has been in part driven by the federal government. That federal overreach is now gone, so anything the governor continues to do in education will be from his own volition. He can no longer lean on the federal government."
I remain skeptical that Cuomo, who's completely on the take from the education reform industrial complex/Heavy Fund Managers For Education Reform, will want to derail the heavy-handed education policy he's helped impose onto the state, including Common Core, the Endless Testing regime, punitive teacher evaluations and a state receivership program that allows the state to take over "failing" public schools and hand them to private entities.
But he certainly wants to make it look like changes are coming.
Thus the Common Core Task Force, thus the trial balloons in the Times about de-linking test scores from APPR, thus the soothing words from him about education policy changes coming.
With his approval numbers in the toilet and his approval numbers on education even worse than that, Cuomo's got to walk a tightrope here, making it look like he's bringing about real change to education policy while assuring his owners, er, campaign donors in the hedge fundie/education reform world that he's still pursuing their agenda.
As Gibson notes, with NCLB III in place, Cuomo's going to have one less scapegoat to blame for the toxic, punitive education reform agenda he wants imposed on the children, teachers and schools of this state.