Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cuomo Has Crony Attack Astorino Over Common Core Opt Out Video

Earlier today I posted video of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announcing he and his wife had decided to opt their children out of the Common Core tests that start tomorrow.

According to State of Politics, the Cuomo Campaign didn't wait long to launch a counterattack:

Sen. George Latimer, a Westchester County Democrat, has been deployed to respond to County Executive/GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s announcement this morning that he and his wife have decided to have his kids opt out of the upcoming Common Core exams to protest the controversial curriculum.

In a statement, Latimer, who is the ranking minority member on the Senate Education Committee, accused Astorino of sinking to a “new low” by “using his children as political props to make points that are pure fiction.”

Latimer went on to mock Astorino for claiming that the Common Core standards were created by Bill Gates, calling the charge "absurd".

Apparently Latimer is not familiar with how much money Gates has put into developing the CCSS and promoting them - he should check out Mercedes Schneider here to educate himself about that.

In any case, Liz Benjamin at State of Politics responded to Latimer's charge that Astorino was using his kids as "political props" thusly:

Astorino has been hammering on the Common Core for some time, calling it yet another unfunded mandate handed down to local governments (in this case, the school districts) by the state. He has also said he would eradicate it completely if he’s elected governor in November.

The slam on Astorino for using his kids as “political props” seems unfair. It’s not as if he’s the first elected official to highlight family members to make a point during a political campaign. Actually, it’s a time-honored tradition to involve one’s children and spouse to demonstrate familial ties to the voters. In this case, the Astorinos are joining many other New York parents in opting their kids out of what they consider onerous and unfair testing.

Nice bit of context from Benjamin at State of Politics on the burgeoning opt-out movement.

If anyone is being absurd here, it's Latimer for claiming Gates had nothing to do with the CCSS development and Astorino is using his kids as political props.

See, unlike Andrew Cuomo (or NYSED Commissioner King), Astorino sends his kids to public schools - they have to live with the Common Core mess.

Unlike Cuomo's kids, King's kids, Gates' kids, Arne Duncan's kids, Barack Obama's kids...

Rob Astorino Says His Own Kids Will Opt Out Of "Cuomo Common Core Exams"

Sheldon Silver Says Charter School Protections In NY State Budget Are "Onerous"

From State of Politics:

“I think the charter school material is a little onerous on the city of New York, unprecedented compared to any other part,” Silver told reporters on the floor of the Assembly.

They are "onerous" - they give charter school operators in NYC (and only NYC) the right of unlimited expansion on the city's dime and there's nothing the city can do to stop them.

If Silver sees these so-called charter protections as "onerous," why did he agree to them?

We know Cuomo wanted them.

And Skelos.

Probably Klein too.

But Silver could have put the kibbosh on them if he had so chosen and held the budget up.

He chose not.

So as "onerous" as these provisions are, once the budget is passed, they will now be law.

And the only thing that might change the issue a bit is a few years from now when Eva and Company completely abuse these expansion rights, the legislature may be forced to revisit these so-called charter protections.

That's what you've got to bank on - that the charter operators, in their immense hubris, screw this up by getting too greedy.

Not much to hang a hat on, is it?

Charter School Sector Set To Thrive In NYC

The NY Times reports the budget deal giving charter schools the right of unlimited expansion in NYC threatens de Blasio's education goals - and of course, that was always the point:

Under the deal, the city would be required to find space in public buildings for charter schools, which operate independently of the school district but receive public funds. If the city could not, it would have to cover the cost of renting private space, up to $40 million. Charter schools could challenge the city’s selection of space through an arbitration process.


Charter school advocates said the allure of free space in New York would most likely attract new charter school operators to the area and prompt existing schools to consider expanding their enrollment. The city can add as many as 66 charter schools under a cap imposed by Albany, though the limit could be raised.

Education experts said they were not sure where the city might house the new programs. Mr. de Blasio has expressed skepticism about closing low-performing schools, a strategy favored by his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, to make room for new programs, including charter schools.

The unlimited expansion powers granted to charter schools already in NYC will create a serious space problem and with 66 charters still to come under the cap, that space issue is going to get a lot worse in future years.

If these unlimited expansion powers are not revisited in law, you are going to see land fights here worthy of a John Ford movie.

And of course, that was always Cuomo's goal here.

As I posted yesterday, since he has become governor, he has done his best to undermine and underfinance the public school system in every area of this state, starving schools of funds with a tax cap even as he puts more and more expensive mandates like Common Core and APPR onto them, in an attempt to make as many schools "fail" as possible.

Then, he hands the "failing" schools over to his charter school operator buddies and their Wall Street backers, ever shrinking the traditional public school system and enlarging the privatized school system of for-profit and non-profit charters.

The unlimited expansion powers granted to charters in the budget bill aligns with these goals and will make the NYC school system look vastly different in another ten years.

Will Eva Moskowitz have 50 or 60 schools by the time the cap is reached?

She might.

And the space for all of those schools will come from NYC traditional public schools or the rent for private space will come from the NYC public school budget.

Moskowitz will have the equivalent of her own fiefdom, with so much cash rolling into her coffers from the extra per pupil funding, the hedge fundie backing and the city paying rent for her that she will have a ton of extra dollars to use to lobby Albany and get the charter cap lifted once again and continue expanding.

Truly a destructive budget bill that is, in the end, meant to destroy the traditional NYC public school system in favor of the charter school/privatized system.

NY Times Editorial Criticizes Charter Provisions In The Budget

They say the legislature and governor shouldn't water down mayoral control and there should be a counter to unchecked charter expansions: 

The 2014-15 budget, which is due by midnight Monday, is expected to provide Mayor Bill de Blasio an important victory and a setback. He will get about $300 million for prekindergarten in New York City this year, allowing him to fulfill his major campaign promise to provide early learning programs for all children in the city.

However, the budget agreement announced Saturday also threatens to chip away at the mayor’s ability to control city schools. Having the mayor fully in charge of public education in the city has mostly worked over the last dozen years. This is no time to start diluting that authority and responsibility over the largest system in the country.

Yet, after Mayor de Blasio recently scaled back plans by three charter schools to use public school space, state lawmakers and Mr. Cuomo — supported by charter school advocates — fought back. They have responded with plans to “protect charter schools,” as the governor’s news release put it, though Mr. de Blasio has already said that these independently run, publicly financed schools have a place in the city’s education system. 

This budget would phase in more state money per student for charter schools, bringing them into line with the level of support received by traditional public schools. The package also bars the city from charging charter schools rent for the use of public school buildings, a suggestion that Mr. de Blasio floated during his campaign. If the city does not want to use public school space for a charter school, the legislation requires the city to find appropriate space elsewhere, or, in some cases, pay the rent for private facilities. 

This, of course, must not be interpreted as a guarantee that new or expanded charter schools can automatically commandeer limited public school space, especially if those charter schools have not proved to be successful in educating students. The new provision should give the mayor and state officials leeway to weed out expansions by mediocre and poorly performing charter schools.
More constructively, the proposed state law would make it clear that the city comptroller can audit charter schools in the city while the state comptroller is authorized to audit charters in the rest of the state.

Of course these new provisions will be interpreted as any charter can expand as much as it wants and commandeer whatever space it wants in a particular district.

Who will stop Eva Moskowitz from saying at the end of the year that she wants to expand six of her elementary schools and have the city pick up the tab for the spaces?

There's nothing in the budget bill to counter whatever the charter operators want.

Yes, there is a yearly audit that will be conducted by the city comptroller, but that's not a counter to the expansion powers.

The Times seems most concerned with expansion of charters that are "mediocre and poorly performing," but the reality is, any uncountered expansion by any charter school becomes a problem with space at such a premium.

I think it was Diane Ravitch who dubbed this a "land grab" the other day - and that's exactly what it is.

And there is no counter in the budget bill to how much land they want to grab.

Cuomo gave the keys of the city's school system to the charter operators to do with it as they will.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

New York Goes From 8th To 20th In Education Performance Under Andrew Cuomo

Interesting piece of data in Pedro Noguera's Time-Union opinion piece decrying the Cuomo budget:

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerging as a champion of charter schools, what does it mean for the 97 percent of students in New York who attend public schools?

Outside major cities, most people have never heard of a charter school. They are focused instead on their local public school, where the situation is often quite disturbing.

There are a lot of problems, including the botched rollout of the common core standards, but the key problem is funding. More than 90 percent of school districts now receive less operating aid from the state than they did five years ago. Some wealthy school districts are able to cope with less funding, but most districts have had to increase class size and make cuts to cuts to art, music and foreign language, as well as advanced placement and honors courses.

We now have two systems of education in New York: In prosperous communities, we have well-funded, high-performing schools; and in less prosperous communities all across the state, we have under-funded schools and struggling students.

This widening gap is the main reason New York's ranking for overall education performance has dropped from 8th in the nation when Cuomo took office to 20th today.

No one in Albany has a plan to address the funding inequality that is the root of this problem. Instead, the governor has chosen to focus on charter schools as if they were the answer to all problems.

In fact, Cuomo is exacerbating the problem with budget after budget, sticking districts with more and more mandates even as he starves them of more and more money.

And don't think this is a mistake on Cuomo's part - he is quite literally the governor of charter schools only and his plan is to make as many traditional public schools fail as he possibly can and hand them off to his charter school operator buddies and his Wall Street/hedge fundie buddies.

I think this is the piece that some people are missing with Cuomo's budgets and mandates - they're part of an intentional strategy to undermine and destroy the public school system in the state and bring privatization to areas outside of NYC.

Making Andrew Cuomo Pay For His Budget

Arthur Goldstein dubbed Andrew Cuomo's budget this:

And indeed, it truly is the Eva Moskowitz budget.

Cuomo told Moskowitz's Albany rally a few weeks ago that he would protect charters and help them to flourish in NYC, and he certainly did that in this budget:

Most significantly, the legislation would require the city to find space for charter schools inside public school buildings or pay much of the cost to house them in private space. The legislation would also prohibit the city from charging rent to charter schools, an idea Mr. de Blasio had championed as a candidate for mayor.


Under the budget agreement, charter schools would receive more money per student. The schools, previously barred from operating early education programs, would also be eligible for grants for prekindergarten.

Cuomo took a victory lap afterward:

“We want to protect and grow and support that charter school movement, and this budget does that,” Mr. Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters.
 By "we" Cuomo must mean he and the charter school operators and their Wall Street backers who fed more than $800K into his campaign coffers and spent more than $1.2 million a week over the last month flooding the airwaves with anti-de Blasio/pro-charter school ads that claim poor charters cannot afford to pay the rent the mayor wanted to charge them.

In the end, it was a huge victory for Cuomo and his charter school backers, a huge defeat for de Blasio and traditional public schools:

Despite Mr. de Blasio’s claim of victory and the statements of good cheer circulated by his allies, the mayor seemed to walk away from budget negotiations with serious setbacks
He appeared to win only a fraction of what he had sought for a vast expansion of the after-school programs this fall. Charter schools in New York City will now enjoy some of the greatest protections in the country. And Mr. de Blasio’s control of city schools was unmistakably questioned, more than a decade after the state granted his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, authority over education.

“This is a land grab, a power grab,” said Diane Ravitch, an education historian who endorsed Mr. de Blasio during his campaign. “They loved mayoral control when it was Mayor Bloomberg, but now it’s a progressive mayor, and they’re gutting it.”

So where do we go from here?

I'd start by working to find a viable candidate from the left who can run against Governor Cuomo in a general election and take votes away from him.

Forget primarying Cuomo, you're not beating him in a primary.

And forget GOP candidate Rob Astorino beating Cuomo, it's not happening, and given his anti-union, pro-charter stances, I'm pretty sure I don't want it to happen anyway.

What I do want to happen, however, is for Cuomo to have a tough re-election fight that leaves him weakened for his second term and unable to mount a legitimate campaign for the White House in 2016.

Cuomo wants to run for president in 2016 if Hillary Clinton decides not to run.

In order to mount a legitimate candidacy, Cuomo wants a huge 2014 re-election margin, with votes coming from right, left and center.

He wants a bigger re-election victory tally than Christie had last year in Jersey (Christie garnered 62.5% in his re-election over Barbara Buono) in order to say he's as popular in his state as Christie used to be in his pre-Bridgegate.

He wants votes from right, left and center in order to say he is not beholden to any one ideology, that he worked across party lines to "get things done" in NY State - like on time budgets, APPR teacher evaluations, stringent union contracts, and the SAFE Act gun control law.

The way to harm Andrew Cuomo and his fevered ambitions to be president is to challenge him from both right and left, not to beat him (which is not very likely given the polling and Cuomo's massive campaign war chest), but to hold him as close to 50% as possible.

Giving Cuomo a Pyrrhic re-election victory ought to be the goal of every person pissed off about the budget, pissed off about the Common Core or APPR, pissed off about the SAFE Act or his failure to act on fracking one way or the other.

In short, people from both right and left.

People pissed off at Cuomo from the right ought to vote for Astorino, people pissed off at Cuomo from the left ought to vote for either the Green Party candidate or another candidate from the left if that candidate emerges.

Bill Samuels, once a Cuomo supporter, now a Cuomo critic, paid for a poll that showed a candidate from the left could garner 10% of the vote against Cuomo in a general election.

I'm not sure I buy that a candidate from the left can take 10% of the vote in a general, but I do think there is sufficient anger from the left that can be exploited by a good candidate looking to hurt Cuomo at the polls and send a message to him.

Couple a challenge from the left that takes 5% or more in support away from Cuomo with a GOP candidate like Astorino, a professional politician who cannot be marginalized the way Crazy Carl Paladino was last time around by Cuomo, and you're looking at keeping Sheriff Andy up nights worried about his re-election totals.

Again, I don't think you can beat him in November, certainly not from the left, most likely not from the right either, barring some scandal that takes Cuomo down (as one has seemingly taken Christie down in NJ.)

But you surely can weaken Cuomo going into his second term, limit him to a victory total just a few points over 50%, and reinforce the political meme that Cuomo does not enjoy statewide popularity or approval, that he has serious issues with people on both the right and left, and that he is a candidate sure to lose in 2016 because these weaknesses will be exposed in a Democratic primary (the loyalist Dems at the Daily Kos have already taken aim at Cuomo for 2016, calling him a modern-day Joe Lieberman, so he starts out behind the 8 ball already anyway.)

It is time to build opposition to Cuomo from both right and left to destroy his White House dreams and make him a lame duck governor the moment he takes the oath of office for his second term.

Make him pay for the outrage you feel over this budget, this charter school giveaway that ensures Eva Moskowitz gets to grow her charter network as much as she wants so long as she doesn't hit the cap and do it on the city's dime to boot.

And you can make him pay by destroying his presidential ambitions and weakening him for his second term as governor.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mulgrew Responds To Budget Agreement

From the NY Times:

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, the city’s teachers’ union, said the changes proposed on Saturday amounted to favoritism for charter schools at the expense of students in traditional public schools.

“They can’t be second-class citizens in their own school system,” Mr. Mulgrew said.

Now they are.

Eva Moskowitz can now expand her schools as much as she wants and the city is on the hook for the rent or the space.

Also, every time SUNY authorizes a new charter, the city is on the hook for rent/space there too.

You can bet Eva will test this new power this year.

Shame the UFT/AFT didn't fight this.

But like Albany pols, they probably took a measure of the power in this fight between de Blasio and Eva and decided de Blasio is weak and would lose the battle.

How Opt-Out Works In Carmel Schools

From Gary Stern at LoHud:

It is up to districts to decide whether students not taking the tests can read or move to another room or must sit quietly. Education Department materials note that districts are not obligated to provide an alternate location or activities.

A letter to parents from the Carmel schools said students who don't take the tests will be given a test booklet and no alternate activity. Any mark on the booklet, it said, will result "in the assessment being graded."

How's that for opt out options?

Hey, kid, you made a mark on that test!

A zero for you on that CCSS test and a zero for your teacher on her/his APPR VAM.

Common Core Moratorium Watered Down In Budget Bill?

From State of Politics:

The Democratic-led Assembly this month passed a measure that would impose a two-year delay in aspects of Common Core when it comes to student and teacher assessment.

The education budget bill introduced this morning does not appear to go nearly as far on that delay. 

Here's what I see in the bill relating to assessment for 3rd-8th grade:

       S. 6356--D                         56                         A. 8556--D

   11    S  2.  This  act shall take effect immediately and shall expire and be
   12  deemed repealed on December 31, 2018. 
And this:
   31    S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.

Is that the CCSS moratorium?

If so, it seems a little fluid in how a district interprets it when it comes to promotion policies.

Otherwise the moratorium seems to be that CCSS test scores don't get put on official transcripts until after 2018.

I know there's language in here about reducing testing time, reducing test prep time, etc., but let's be honest - with APPR still in effect and 40% of a teacher's evaluation based upon so-called "student performance," there isn't going to be any reduction in testing or test prep.

They may change the name of the "test" to "task" or something along those lines, but you can bet there is still going to be an inordinate amount of time on testing and test prep.

That's what happens when you hold schools and teachers "accountable" for test scores and so-called student performance as based upon so-called "objective measures."

In short, this is what happens when you run a test-centric education system obsessed with data and so-called objective measures.

And Now The Budget Agreement Is Said To Be Complete

Just moments after I posted that the education spending bill was holding up the state budget comes word that the budget agreement is now set:

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders have reached a deal on the next state budget that provides $300 million to expand prekindergarten in New York City, officials said on Saturday.

The agreement, which followed exhausting but relatively peaceful negotiations, does not include a tax increase on high-earning city residents that Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to pay for preschool classes and after-school programs — and that he had made a focus of his bid for office last year.
But the mayor appears likely to receive much of the money he had sought to raise through the tax, which his advisers said had been their primary goal. The mayor had wanted about $340 million for the prekindergarten expansion.

In the last few days of negotiations, Mr. Cuomo and legislative leaders discussed a number of other issues, including proposals to provide additional state funding and other protections for charter schools, and a measure to enact what would amount to a temporary freeze on increases in property taxes.

The spending plan was largely negotiated in secret by the governor and top lawmakers, and details about the agreement were not immediately released on Saturday. Budget legislation was printed overnight, and lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters were combing through the bills in an effort to determine the terms of the deal. A spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Devil is in the details here.

We await those details.

Education Budget Bill Still Not Finished

Apparently they're still wrangling over the education issues:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top state lawmakers appeared to come to an agreement on much of the state budget late Friday, but a bill laying out more than $20 billion in education spending wasn’t introduced before a key midnight deadline.

Both the Senate and Assembly printed eight bills just before 11:59 p.m. Friday that would implement most of the state budget. Since they made it in before midnight, it means they will be eligible for a vote Monday—the deadline for having a spending plan in place.

Legislation for school spending, however, still hadn’t been introduced as of 1:30 a.m. Saturday, bringing into question whether Cuomo would be willing to waive a mandatory three-day aging period in order to salvage what could be the state’s fourth consecutive on-time budget.

Cuomo met separately with Senate leaders and legislative staffers throughout the day Friday, but a full budget agreement—which had been widely expected—remained elusive. A final spending plan is expected to total around $138 billion for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins Tuesday.

What's holding the education spending bill up?

Are they arguing over the two-tiered pre-K reimbursement?

Are they arguing over how much money is going to spent on pre-K?

Does Eva Moskowitz want more money from the state for rent and per pupil spending?

Is Eva pissed that charters are now subject to state and local auditing?

Who knows.

All we do know is, the education spending part of the budget is threatening to derail the on-time budget overall.

We'll see what happens - you know Cuomo is desperate to get another on-time budget so he can say every budget has been on time since he was elected governor.

My guess is, he'll push hard and heavy to get what he wants, then waive the "aging" process for the bill by issuing a "message of necessity" so that he can claim "victory" again.

Former Christie Aide Bridget Anne Kelly Says She'll Talk To Feds

No wonder Christie was so bombastic at yesterday's press conference - he sees the end is near:

Gov. Chris Christe's inner circle continued to implode on Friday with a close ally abruptly resigning and his former deputy chief of staff now willing to talk if she gets immunity.

David Samson, a top Bridgegate figure and the target of a federal probe, quietly surrendered his post as Port Authority chairman. Christie insisted the resignation - effective immediately and tendered under a cloud of suspicion - had nothing to do with the September lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

Samson’s departure came a day after the results of a widely panned $1 million taxpayer-funded report cleared the governor of any wrongdoing in the Bridgegate scandal. The report did, however, recommend reforms at the bi-state agency that runs the George Washington Bridge.

The Samson resignation may not be Christie’s biggest problem.

Bridget Anne Kelly, who was fired in January, is willing to testify after initially invoking the Fifth Amendment when subpoenaed by a state legislative panel conducting a probe of the Christie administration. But it appears she’ll talk to the feds.

Kelly — whose August 2013 email set the Fort Lee, N.J., gridlock in motion — would fully cooperate if “provided with the appropriate procedural safeguards,” said her lawyer, Michael Critchley.

The defense lawyer made it clear where his client would like to get immunity: “The only credible investigation into the lane closings is being conducted by the U.S. attorney’s office.”

Now there are two former Christie aides willing to talk to the feds in return for immunity - David Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly.

And now we have another Christie crony losing his job amid the scandal - Samson, who is connected to the Sandy aid scandal in Hoboken, named in the Bridgegate emails between Wildstein and Kelly, and under investigation from the feds for corruption at the Port Authority.

Want to bet he'll look to talk to save himself if he can?

And no one outside of Chris Christie's wife bought the Christie-connected law firm's report that "exonerated" Christie from Bridgegate.

Christie's got trouble.

A lot of it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Another Bridgegate Resignation

More Bridgegate fun:

Gov. Chris Christie announced today that David Samson, whose chairmanship of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has come under fire in recent months, has resigned.

Samson, a close ally of Christie and a former attorney general of New Jersey, is reportedly under investigation by the U.S. Attorney of New Jersey in the face of accusations that his law firm, Wolff & Samson, had enriched itself by lobbying for companies with business before the Port Authority.


The stunning announcement came at the beginning of a Statehouse news conference, the first since a a two-hour session on Jan. 9 when Christie accepted responsibility for politically charged closing of access lanes at the George Washington Bridge and announced the dismissal of two close aides.

Christie tried to put a positive spin on the resignation in a press conference the NY Times described as "combative."

But Samson had to go because he's under federal investigation for alleged conflicts of interest and other potential corruption at the Port Authority.

Samson may also be complicit in the Bridgegate mess, considering he's named in the emails and was said to be taking care of some stuff when the NY Port Authority officials tried to put a stop to the lane closures.

Samson's resignation today is just one more sign Christie's got a whole heap of trouble from the three scandals dogging him (Bridgegate, Sandy Aid, the Port Authority/Samson scandal.)

Sheldon Silver Says Budget Talks "Have Slowed"

From State of Politics:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon made his second impromptu visit down the hallway of the Legislative Correspondence Association Friday morning, confirming to reporters that he is indeed still in Albany and no final agreement had been reached on a spending plan.


Talks have apparently stalled on the budget, Silver said.

“Leaders meetings have not been quite as productive,” Silver said.

He added, “Things did not move as fast as they should have overnight.”

Lawmakers had indicated on Thursday that an announcement on a final agreement for the budget would come Friday. So far, nothing has been scheduled at the Capitol to unveil a budget.

And what's holding up an agreement?

“A whole bunch of issues,” he said, “education, UPK, everything.”

Does that mean the charter stuff is not a done deal?

Probably not (in fact, the hold-up on education seems to be over the two-tiered reimbursement for pre-K), but there's still time to call Silver's office and let him know what you think about the charter school giveaway that is being reported:

Here's his contact:


Might not do any good, but it's worth trying.

Rev Up Those State And City Financial Audits Of The Charter Networks

As I posted this morning, the charter operators got pretty much everything they wanted in budget negotiations - higher per pupil state aid, free rent, and a guaranteed right to space.

But there is one interesting item in the deal according to Ben Chapman at the Daily News:

It will also for the first time allow the city and state controller to audit charter schools.

If the state and city comptrollers exercise this newly won provision, we will now be able to see exactly what Moskowitz, Kenny and the rest of the charter entrepreneurs are spending their money on.

I bet this is one provision in the charter bill charter entrepreneurs are not happy about.

There's a reason why Moskowitz sued the state comptroller to keep him from auditing her books.

She's got something to hide.

Time to audit the books and see what that is.

Same goes for Kenny and the KIPPsters and the rest of the networks.

You guys wanted more money and free rent and guaranteed space.

You got that.

But if the DN is right, you've also got to open your books up to the state and city comptrollers as opposed to the old days when you could hire your own crooked auditors to do a whitewash for you.

Will Cuomo Allow Any Changes To NYC Teacher Evaluations?

I've posted the past few days about how much Andrew Cuomo likes to stick it to his "friend," Bill de Blasio, on issue after issue.

Anthony Weiner and Michael Powell of the NY Times both wrote about this earlier in the week, with "jerk" Anthony Weiner going so far as to call Cuomo a "jerk" over it.

Yesterday Cuomo got everything he wanted in the budget deal on the charter issue, in the words of the NY Post "sticking it to de Blasio" over his vow to charge charters rent for leasing space in city public schools.

The proposed budget deal also puts the city on the hook for co-locations or paying for space for all future charters.

In short, Cuomo took de Blasio to the woodshed over the charter issue for his buddy Eva Moskowitz and her allies, all big Cuomo campaign donors.

We're in the middle of contract negotiations here in the city and one of the items being worked out is the teacher evaluation system, which is a mess.

The system in NYC was imposed by SED Commissioner King as directed by Cuomo's last budget deal and is largely seen as onerous and odious by almost everybody involved with it - except for SED Commissioner King, who came up with it, and Governor Cuomo, who brags about it.

Whatever changes the UFT and the city agree to over evaluations in contract negotiations, don't be surprised if Cuomo doesn't stick his nose into the deal and try and have his way over the evaluation issue here in NYC.

As Cuomo has said over and over, he will brook no changes to the APPR teacher evaluation system, he believes it is perfect just the way it is and it is one of the prime items he plans to tout during his 2014 re-election campaign and his 2016 run for president (i.e., holding those lazy-ass teachers "accountable" for student performance.)

There was talk of de-linking the Common Core tests from APPR for two years, but Cuomo would have none of it and ensured those changes did not make it into the budget deal, though a moratorium on CCSS high stakes will be enacted for students.

Thus teachers will be held accountable for test scores that children will not, an odd twist that I hope will be challenged in court.

He also threatened the Regents when they suggested a minor change to APPR.

In any case, Cuomo has shown relish for "sticking it" to de Blasio over and over and I fully expect him to continue to do soon on issue after issue - and that includes teacher evaluations and contracts here in NYC.

Cuomo has already said he believes that the city contract pattern was set by the PEF/CSEA contract model he forced onto those unions in his first year in Albany, so you can see how he is already sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong.

If the city and the union agree to changes to the evaluation system that Cuomo doesn't like, don't be surprised if he doesn't try and "stick it" to de Blasio again and engineer some kind of kibbosh on the deal.

Cuomo has already circumvented mayoral control in this latest charter school rent/co-location budget deal.

He may do so again if the UFT contract/evaluation negotiation doesn't go the way he wants it to.

Cuomo Sticks It To De Basio

That's the Post's takeaway this morning:

Charter schools will be big winners in the new state budget under a tentative deal hammered out by Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders Thursday night, sources close to the talks said.

For the first time the privately operated schools will be eligible for government funds to cover the costs of leasing classroom space in private buildings, Albany sources said.

The city would be required to first look for space in regular public schools where new charters — or those wishing to expand — could be co-located.

And if such space couldn’t be found, the city would have to reimburse any charters that rent in private buildings, which could cost the city as much as $40 million a year.

And in a slap at Mayor de Blasio, he’ll be barred from charging rent to any charter school co-located in public school buildings.

During the mayoral campaign last year, de Blasio vowed to charge rent to the better funded charter.
“There is a complete ban on rent,” a source familiar with the deal said.

The agreement also calls for de Blasio to find alternate space for all three of Eva Moskowitz Success Academy charters booted from city facilities for the fall.

Cuomo — as well as state Senate leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein — pushed hard for the measures after de Blasio took actions to limit charters.

“The governor stuck it to de Blasio,” said another source.

Michael Fiorillo reacts:

The growing edifice of hypocrisy, deception, greed, corruption and sadistic will-to-power is just sickening to behold.

What a bleak, bleak time: cravenness on the part of those who should be representing us; fear, apathy and ignorance on the part of most of our colleagues; aggressive predation by the privateers and their political courtesans.

We're screwed, folks, we're screwed...

Agreed - the message has been sent.

The corporate whores own the state.

New York City May Have $2 Billion Surplus At End Of Fiscal Year

From Crains:

The city could end this year with a $2 billion budget surplus, or about $244 million more than Mayor Bill de Blasio has been anticipating, according to an analysis of the mayor’s preliminary budget by the Independent Budget Office released Wednesday.

Assuming most of that surplus is used to pay down next year’s expenses, the IBO predicts that the city will also end next year with a surplus of $1.2 billion.

The IBO warned the 152 open union contracts cloud the city's fiscal future and until those are settled, a complete picture of the city's finances cannot be taken accurately.

Still, it's important to note, New York City is not Detroit no matter how much the concern trolls at the conservative thinktanks or the newspapers want to say it is.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Isn't It Time For Bridget Anne Kelly To Throw Christie Under The Bus?

From the NY Times:

Gov. Chris Christie, seeking to stanch the damage the scandal had caused to his political fortunes, fired her as his deputy chief of staff after that, calling her “stupid.” But the report commissioned by Mr. Christie and released Thursday doubles down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as duplicitous, weeping frequently and dependent on men for approval and stability.


Ms. Kelly’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. But the report’s depiction of Ms. Kelly outraged her friends, as well as Mr. Christie’s critics.

“This report was meant to whitewash Governor Christie’s reputation as a bully, but it actually confirms that he does embrace a culture of intimidation and retaliation,” said Lis Smith, a Democratic consultant who worked for the man Mr. Christie defeated in 2009, Gov. Jon S. Corzine. “He’s throwing every sexist slur at Kelly while needlessly and aggressively injecting details about her personal life. It’s a cynical attempt to distract from the real story.”

If I was Bridget Anne Kelly, I'd be looking for the opportunity to make Governor Christie pay for this smear job he had the lawyers who put together this "whitewash" do on her.

The Times points out the report didn't do the same smear job on Kelly's alleged co-conspirator in Bridgegate, David Wildstein, that it did on her.

Just another example of Christie's misogyny.

We've seen this stuff before - like when he screams at teachers while his wife grins in the background.

Charter Schools Get Government-Funded Rent, Co-Location Rights, Extra Per Pupil Cash In Budget Deal

Cuomo got everything Eva and Company wanted:

State leaders reached a tentative deal on a charter school reform package that will increase per pupil spending and provide government-funded rent for the schools for the first time. Also under the deal, if a new charter approved by the city includes a request for space inside existing city buildings, the city would have five-months to make a “reasonable” co-location offer or pay for private space, the sources said.

If the state government is going to provide rent or force co-location plus add extra cash to per pupil spending, are charter schools still "not public schools"?

Because Eva Moskowitz told the state comptroller to go  #$%^ himself when he wanted to audit Success Academies and a judge agreed that charter schools are not public schools so the state comptroller had no jurisdiction over Eva's (or any charter's) finances.

Given all the goodies Eva and the charter operators get now, they certainly should be subject to state audit.

But remember, accountability is only for public schools.

No word on whether SUNY can force charter co-locations in this deal.

Right now, it's reported that it's only if the city approves a new charter that wants to be co-located in a public school building that the city has to come up with a "reasonable" co-location offer or pay the rent of that charter.

We'll have to see the details in full.

But it looks like Eva and the charter entrepreneurs got everything they wanted.

Students Say Get Rid Of Common Core

The kids are alright:

ALBANY—A majority of State Assembly members chose to stick with the Common Core standards during a recent vote, but a younger legislative body that voted in the chamber this weekend made a different decision.

A group of high school students visited the Capitol on Sunday to perform a mock Assembly exercise, during which they debated real bills on the Assembly floor, including one that would withdraw New York from the Common Core as well as the federal Race To The Top grant competition. It passed—overwhelmingly.

“That was one of the bills that everyone was looking forward to, because it's such a strong subject right now in New York State,” said Irma Valverde, a senior in the Patchogue-Medford school district on Long Island. “Unfortunately, all the kids in the mock Assembly have seen their teachers and their siblings struggling with the Common Core. Everyone was very disturbed.”

Assemblyman Al Graf has sponsored a bill to withdraw the state from the Common Core, a bill that has so far not gotten much traction in the real Assembly.

When the mock Assembly voted to toss Common Core, Graf said

“Students in high school have more common sense than the people in this house."

Indeed they do.

Of course these students have seen the ravages of the Core implementation firsthand while many of the politicians in Albany only hear about it secondhand from the public.

And apparently secondhand knowledge of the ravages of Common Core doesn't trump all the ed deformer/hedge fundie money the pols get to stay the Common Core course.

Christie's Own Bridgegate Report: Wildstein Says He Told Christie About Lane Closures On 9/11

It's still he said/he said, but it's one more step closer to ruin for Chris Christie:

The Port Authority official who oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge said that he had informed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey about it at a Sept. 11 memorial while the closings were occurring, according to an internal investigation released on Thursday by lawyers for the governor.
The official, David Wildstein, told Mr. Christie’s press secretary of the Sept. 11 conversation at a dinner in December just before his resignation from the Port Authority, according to the report. 
The report said that Mr. Christie did not recall any such conversation and finds no evidence that he was involved in the scheme, which snarled traffic for thousands of commuters in Fort Lee, N.J., from Sept. 9 through the morning of Sept. 12.
It was one of many revelations unearthed by the inquiry, commissioned by Mr. Christie’s office. into what prompted the lane closings and what role his administration played in it.
The report puts much of the blame for the closings on Bridget Anne Kelly, who was Mr. Christie’s deputy chief of staff until he fired her in January, and on Mr. Wildstein, a longtime Christie ally.
This is Christie's own internal report and it's supposed to exonerate him, but the Wildstein claim in it raises more questions and in the end, that's really the takeaway from it.
They're trying to hang this mess on Wildstein and Kelly, but something tells me it's not going to work out the way Christie and his remaining staff want it to.

Christie says this report exonerates him of culpability in Bridgegate.

But it doesn't come close to doing that:

The report was commissioned by Mr. Christie’s office in the days after the scandal erupted and was carried out by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, a corporate law firm known for its aggressive white-collar defense work. 
Over the past two months, the firm interviewed more than 70 individuals, including Mr. Christie, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and every member of the governor’s senior staff. They also interviewed the New Jersey staff of the Port Authority, which controls the bridge. They reviewed the personal and work email accounts of key administration officials. And they obtained the private and government phone records for Mr. Christie and his top aides. 
But the lawyers encountered a glaring obstacle that raises questions about its thoroughness: The three people at the center of the lane closings, according to emails made public by the State Legislature, refused to cooperate. Ms. Kelly, Mr. l Stepien and Mr. Wildstein, declined requests to meet with Gibson Dunn lawyers.

And so all this internal Christie report is raise more questions about what Christie knew, when he knew it and if he lied about it during that Springsteen-length press conference he gave back in January. 

Some Are Starting To Notice What A Child Andrew Cuomo Is

Two pieces on how much Andrew Cuomo seems to be going out of his way to take it to Bill de Blasio on issue after after issue and acting like a schmuck on wheels in the process.

First, Anthony Weiner in the Daily News:

Anyone with political antennae can tell that Cuomo has, frankly, been a bit of a jerk — while de Blasio seems to have remained respectful and deferential in his dealings with the governor. 
There was the time when Cuomo skipped a pre-K funding event to make a surprise appearance at a pro-charter school rally, where he spoke alongside de Blasio foe Eva Moskowitz. 
And the time when he snarkily said, “The answer to a tale of two cities is not to create two states.” 
And the time when he challenged de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, without mentioning her by name. 
It all starts to smell like unnecessary alpha-male jockeying by the state’s chief executive. 
As someone who has been at the receiving end of more than my share of insider strafing, I can tell you that a lot of energy is being expended within the mayor’s circle on the “How to Handle Andrew” question. 
When you’re the mayor, you can’t just ignore the governor. You have to work with him and his staff, on a daily if not hourly basis. 
The good news is, the cooler head — in this case, de Blasio’s — may prevail. By being calm, measured and disciplined, the mayor is beginning to look like the adult in the partnership. 
He needs to make sure he doesn’t feed the overblown notion, beloved by some in the media, that this is a proxy fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. 
If the governor is acting the way he is because he wants to be seen as the pragmatic wing of the party, the best thing for the mayor to do is to show that progressives know success is defined by getting things done. 
Like that parable of the scorpion who bites the frog as they cross the river together, drowning them both, perhaps this is just a part of the governor’s nature. Let de Blasio prove that it’s part of his to ignore the pain — and keep swimming.

And Michael Powell in the NY Times:

The governor has gone “Lord of the Flies” on the mayor as of late, nearly demanding subservience. Just this week, he administered a slap, suggesting the mayor’s request to excise a few regulatory phrases was akin to asking to alter the wording in Magna Carta. 
How, the governor asked, could the mayor’s people have asked for so much so late in the game? 
Put to the side that the mayor’s people talked with state officials about this for weeks. This is where Albany’s cognitive dissonance kicks in.  
In this case, Mr. de Blasio’s deputy mayor talked about the voucher often with state officials, but may have neglected to do so in person. Or an aide texted when she should have called. Mr. de Blasio played it right. He just apologized for “miscommunication” and reinforced that he really wanted his good friend the governor to help him. 
Our governor understands that to be mercurial is a force multiplier. His aides let it slip Wednesday that Mr. Cuomo was an expert on homelessness, and that he would labor hard to help the mayor. 
So just maybe the governor will produce the language needed to allow the city to spend its own money on a voucher for its most desolate. In Albany, that passes for Merry Christmas.

Two pieces today, one by a prominent former pol who knows petulance and childishness when he sees it because he engaged in it so often himself, another by a prominent Times columnist, both pointing out what a fevered little ego Andrew Cuomo is.

More on this later.

Call Sheldon Silver And Ask Why Tests Only Count For Teachers

I am glad that they are taking the high stakes from the CCSS tests away for two years for children.

But they are keeping those stakes for teachers, so if you are a teacher in the New York State public school system, you may have 40% of your evaluation based upon a battery of performance assessments and state Common Core tests that your students have no stake in.

Let me repeat that, because it is so absurd:

If you are a teacher in the New York State public school system, you may have 40% of your evaluation based upon a battery of performance assessments and state Common Core tests that your students have no stake in.

And remember too that if a teacher is found to be "ineffective" on just the 40% test-based components, they MUST be declared "ineffective" overall per Governor Cuomo's dictum.

Call Shelly Silver and ask him why he thinks it's perfectly fine for teachers to be fired based on test scores that do not count for students.

Here's his contact:


See if you can get a rational answer fro Speaker Silver's people over this Common Core conundrum.

I have called twice now and could not.

While you're at it, call Cathy Nolan's office too and see if she'll defend this absurdity:


Final Budget Agreement: No Changes To APPR Teacher Evaluations

From the Buffalo News:

Precisely how far the changes to Common Core will go was still being debated Wednesday at the Capitol. But lawmakers say they expect, at a minimum, that certain Common Core test results will not count against student records for a period of time, additional money will be pumped into teacher professional development funds to help them make the transition to the Common Core system, and there will be no Common Core testing before third grade.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the final plan will include still-unspecified delays to the new English and math testing requirements under the Common Core program. But he suggested that the budget will not remove standardized Common Core test results from being partly applied to how teachers are evaluated under a new state system that judges the classroom abilities of teachers.

A rush is on with Common Core because students in grades 3 through 8 are due to take a second round of standardized tests next week across the state. “We’re probably going to include something that alleviates the trauma to students who are scheduled to take exams in April,” Silver said after the session with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders at the Capitol on Wednesday.

I called Silver's office to ask how it is that the CCSS tests are not good enough to be used on students but they are good enough to be used on teachers.

I did not get any coherent response from his office over the matter.

Perhaps the education deformers in charge of policy in the state think that by taking the stakes from the children's tests, they relieve the "trauma" from the system.

But with high stakes still attached to the teachers via these test scores, the "trauma" remains in the system because people are going to be worried about losing their jobs over these scores.

Which means some of the "trauma" is going to find it's way to the children even if the stakes have been taken from the tests for students.

Again, I ask how it is that teachers will be evaluated using test scores from tests that children have no stake in.

I am glad the stakes have been removed for the children.

I do not see how teachers can still be evaluated with those same tests, however.

You should call Shelly Silver's office and see if you can get a rational response to this Common Core conundrum:


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

UCLA Civil Rights Project Cites New York For Most Segregated Schools In The Nation

Hey - we're number #1!:

NEW YORK -- New York state has the most segregated public schools in the nation, with many black and Latino students attending schools with virtually no white classmates, according to a report released Wednesday.

The report by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles looks at enrollment trends from 1989 to 2010.

In New York City, the largest school system in the U.S. with 1.1 million pupils, the study notes that many of the charter schools created over the last dozen years are among the least diverse of all, with less than 1 percent white enrollment at 73 percent of charter schools.

"To create a whole new system that's even worse than what you've got really takes some effort," said Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project and an author of the report.

It does take effort, but with former mayor Michael Bloomberg and his DOE minions having worked very hard to close as many public schools as possible and replace them with charter schools (which are the most segregated schools in the city) and fire as many teachers of color as possible and replace them with young white TFA's and the like, that effort has seemed to pay dividends.

Bloomberg and ed deform are not the only contributor to segregation.

The report also blames housing trends in the city, where neighborhoods have become more racially homogenized over the last two and a half decades (although Bloomberg accelerated the gentrification trends with his vast rezoning of much of the city, so even there he is culpable.)

I'd say these are unbelievable results, except if you've been paying attention to the ed deform wars over the last 15 years or so, you'd know that the report's findings are completely believable:

Pedro Noguera, a New York University education professor, said it's disturbing that policy makers have focused so little on racial integration in recent years.

"We've been talking about reforming schools in New York and elsewhere. This issue was never addressed," Noguera said.

He added, "When you concentrate the neediest kids together in under-resourced schools they tend not to do very well."

New York City can now say that we have re-enacted the Jim Crow south here in 2014 New York City, with the school system more racially segregated than anywhere else in America, except that of course in the Jim Crow segregated schools, black children were taught by black teachers while often here in NYC they are taught by young white teachers.

All I can say about this is, what a disgrace!

It would be nice if the Michael Bloomberg's and Eva Moskowitz's who contributed to this disgrace would get some of the blame for it, but alas, that's probably asking too much.

It also would be nice if our governor would do something about this, but since he supports charter schools and only charter schools, that's probably asking too much too.

At any rate, here's hoping Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina will look to do something about this disgrace in NYC.

The report has some suggestions for what to do:

The UCLA report recommends that state and local education agencies develop policies aimed at reducing racial isolation and promoting diverse schools.

The report suggests voluntary desegregation programs in upstate cities like Rochester, where low-income populations are surrounded by more affluent communities.

In New York City, Orfield said, a system of unscreened "choice" schools would foster more diversity than the current New York City high school choice system, which sees entrance tests at top schools excluding most black and Latino students.

One final suggestion: Call Cuomo and tell him to convene a panel over this state disgrace right away.

I mean, Common Core got a panel.

Why shouldn't this school segregation disgrace?

CCSS Tests Won't Count For Students, Will Count For Teacher Evaluations

This sounds ripe for a court challenge:

ALBANY -- A deal is being negotiated to place a two-year moratorium on the use of student tests based on the Common Core for grade promotion in public schools.

New York City schools and a handful of districts statewide have used the standardized tests under Common Core for grades 3 through 8 as a factor in promoting students to the next grade. The deal would delay that use for two years, but would allow the tests to continue to be used in job evaluations of teachers and principals, said two state officials Tuesday night. The officials insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the closed-door negotiations.

The agreement also would prohibit other school districts from choosing to use the standardized tests for grade promotion, the officials said.

Those details are the framework of a deal, the officials told Newsday, and an agreement is likely. The issue is being discussed in state budget negotiations between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Senate and Assembly leaders.

I'm glad to hear the Common Core tests won't be used as bludgeons against children.

But they're still going to be used as bludgeons against teachers, and thus whatever negative consequences to the school environment legislators were looking to mitigate by instituting the CCSS moratorium for two years won't actually happen because the high stakes remain for teachers.

Do legislators understand that when teachers' jobs are directly tied to these test scores, the pressure the state is exerting on educators gets put onto students too?

We know the governor either doesn't understand that or doesn't care.

But enough legislators reacted to the parent outrage over CCSS this past year that you would have thought they would have understood that the moratorium for high stakes around the CCSS has to be for both students and teachers to work.

Alas, the legislators seem not to understand that fact, or like Cuomo they don't care about it, or perhaps they're not willing to fight the governor over APPR.

In any case, APPR remains in effect for the CCSS tests and thus the pressure remains for teachers this April no matter the moratorium for children over the CCSS tests.

If I were the NYSUT, this is the sort of thing I would challenge in court to see if it can stand.

Can the state say tests won't count for kids but will count for teachers?

Of course, if the Weingarten/Mulgrew-backed NYSUT slate wins the NYSUT election next month, they may decide that they don't want to anger Sheriff Andy Cuomo and just leave things as they are.

I hope that doesn't happen.

APPR is super destructive for children as well as teachers and it must be dismantled.

The state unions should start by challenging the absurd notion that teachers can be evaluated using students' test scores from tests that don't count for students.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Budget Update - NO Changes To APPR Teacher Evaluations

This afternoon I wondered if Shelly Silver had caved to Governor Cuomo on the charter school issues yet.

I also wondered if there would be any changes to either the Common Core implementation or Cuom's APPR teacher evaluation system. 

Daily Politics reports the following:

Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers are zeroing in on a deal that would set aside $300 million for a full-day prekindergarten in New York City, the Daily News has learned.

Sources close to the talks say additional money would also be given to the city that can be used for after-school programs,  though it woulnd't be specifically earmarked for that purpose.
All told, the sources said, the emerging budget deal would likely provide a total package close to what Mayor de Blasio has been seeking--though without the increase in the city income tax the mayor had been seeking to fund the expansion.

But, as with anything in the flow of budget talks, the sources warn no deal is set until the final budget is agreed upon.


The emerging budget deal will also set aside additional money for full-day pre-K programs outside the city. But, sources said, that money will have more flexibility so districts can also use it to beef up full-day kindergarten programs.

In addition, it’s expected that an education bond act that will go before voters will set aside money for pre-kindergarten classroom construction as well as additional space so the city can close down the trailers that house some classes.

Legislative leaders reported progress on the budget talks. Sources said a deal to delay the impact of the Common Core testing on students--but not the teacher evaluation process--for two years has been agreed to.

One source said the major outstanding issues involve charter schools, an anti-corruption package, campaign finance reform and the DREAM Act.

Cuomo held fast to the teacher evaluation law - as was expected.

Looks like no changes to APPR and teachers will be evaluated  with the Common Core "assessments" despite the contention by Cuomo and Company that the CCSS tests are not ready for prime time evaluation for children.

But so far, if Daily Politics is to be believed, Shelly hasn't given Cuomo his charter school protections yet.

Has Silver Caved To Cuomo On Charter School Issue?

Trying reading these tea leaves:

The top legislative leaders emerged from closed-door budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo reporting progress and gave a clear public signal that whatever disagreements between Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos arose had been patched up.  
“Look how much I love Shelly,” Skelos said smiling while putting his arm around the longtime speaker.  
The moment was in contrast to last week’s blow up when Skelos stormed out of the meeting claiming that “another branch of government” was pushing New York City issues in the budget talks (There is no doubt he was referring to Silver, who has confounded Republicans during budget negotiations for 20 years now).  
Cuomo had met separately with the Senate leaders and Silver on Monday.  
On Tuesday morning, however, Silver and Skelos, along with Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, sought to put on a unified face.  
“I think we’ve had tremendous progress,” Silver said. “We’re making down the issues where staff can carry out our wishes collectively.” 
“I don’t think we’re going to have an agreement today, but we’re working toward one,” Silver said.  
A variety of contentious issues remain to be hashed out.  
Lawmakers — including Skelos — did not rule out either including the Dream Act or the public financing of political campaigns in the budget talks.  
“Everything’s being discussed,” Skelos said.  
The legalization of medical marijuana, however, is not expected to be in the final spending plan (Sen. Diane Savino, the measure’s lead sponsor in the Senate, believes it will be taken up post budget).  
At the same time, lawmakers must strike deals on a funding level for universal pre-Kindergarten as well as new protections for charter schools in New York City.  
“We’re not apart, per se, everything’s got to fit in with everything else,” Silver said. “That’s the real key.”

I have a difficult time seeing Cuomo do a budget deal without getting his way on the charter school issues just as I have a difficult time seeing Cuomo do a deal without getting his way on the teacher evaluation issue.

What say you?

What "protections" will Cuomo get for charter schools in the budget deal?

What, if anything, will they do over APPR?

And what changes will they make to the CCSS reform agenda?

The Old Paradigms For Education Cannot Work In This World Anymore

The editorials from the NY Post about de Blasio and Farina get more vicious and ridiculous by the day.

Today's is about how ruthless competition among schools and putting extra stress on students is the key to success for children:

In the course of admitting he didn’t have a good reason for taking a good school away from kids in Harlem, Mayor de Blasio said that to fix a “broken” city school system, we have to “shake the foundations.”

Today, some 1,500 students and teachers from Success Academy charter schools will be doing that at the Armory on the Hudson. They are holding a giant pep rally as they head into next week’s tests. It’s called “Slam the Exam!” And it’s a terrific example of how to “shake the foundations” of a public-school system mired in low expectations and even lower performance.

This Empire is centrally organized, overly bureaucratic and failing 85 percent of our black and Latino students.

Yet it has its defenders. Look at Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. She’s already made clear charter children are not her concern. So what does she tell principals of the children who are her concern? Not to go overboard on “test preparation.” Hmm. Wonder if that’s the approach in Singapore or South Korea, whose students score well above ours in reading, math and science.

Fariña worries about “stressing” students. She should go to the armory today. These kids believe they can compete with the best of them, and that tests give them an opportunity to prove it. So their approach to testing is simple: “Bring it on.”

Then there’s Mayor de Blasio’s idea of shaking it up, which is to take away good schools for kids if they are charters and keep failing schools open if they are traditional schools. That’s the instinct of the old guard who put teachers union above student performance.

The mayor complains about competition. But competition is the key to shaking the foundations. Because charters are showing kids can learn, and in so doing, deprive failing public schools of excuses. And they invite comparisons important to parents.

Our students need more of this, no matter how much the Empire of the mayor and his schools chancellor may strike back.

I figured when the Post published the story a few days ago about Farina talking about the rash of suicides that has struck New York City school students the last seven weeks, they would look to use her statements against her.

And they are - they're mocking her for worrying that the current system is "stressing" students, that she should instead be teaching these kids the kind of "grit" and "determination" the Success Academy students show while trying to "Slam the Exam!"

The sociopath who wrote this editorial clearly does not understand that teaching kids to divorce themselves from their feelings and use external events and extrinsic motivation to get through works to make for a good and healthy life in the long run.

Neither does Jeb Bush, who defended the Common Core this week by railing against people who worry that the current battery of education reforms isn't healthy for children.

The refrain from the reformers is always the same here: "Screw what you think or feel, do what you have to do to succeed the way we tell you to succeed!"

One of the reasons we have such a screwed up culture these days is because so many people are divorced from their inner selves, so many people are leading lives of distraction and isolation, alone with their technology and their material things.

This is the sort of culture sociopaths like Jeb Bush and the Murdoch people like because it keeps them in the money, everybody playing on their field with their rules, with competition and materialism the highest order of the day.

One of the best lessons we can teach students these days is to be able to judge if they want to live by these rules the Bushes and their ilk make for them or if they want to find their own way in life, find their own sources of value and beauty.

I dunno, might be the Jesuit education I received as a teen, but I come from the school of education that looks to teach kids to have the confidence that they can find their own way in a society and a culture that is clearly troubled and getting worse by the year.

I'm not a big fan of teaching them to "slam the exam!" or telling them to get some "grit" to outcompete everyone else.

According to the sociopaths at the Post, that makes me a bad educator.

I'm supposed to be teaching children to "slam the exam!", to learn "grit" and "determination" to succeed no matter the cost.

But looking around at what is left of our dying ecosystem, deteriorating economy and dreadful culture, I think we need to find a different way for education going forward that emphasizes collaboration over competition, intrinsic motivation over extrinsic, and new ways of looking at ourselves and our world that take into account not just the material but also the emotional and, dare I say, the spiritual.

How's that for "shaking the foundations!"?

Oh and about South Korea and their terrific education system?

It leads the world not just in test scores but also suicides of children and adults.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jeb Bush Channels David Coleman In A Defense Of The Common Core

College Board President David Coleman, one of the architects of the Common Core State Standards, famously told an audience in New York State that one of the things you learn in life when you get older is that nobody gives a shit what you think or feel about stuff.

Jeb Bush channeled that Coleman sentiment in a recent defense of Common Core:

Bush has repeatedly explained the standards, implemented and controlled by the states, are designed to make the United States more competitive with the rest of the world. He said those who oppose the standards support the “status quo,” oppose testing and are worried too much about children’s self-esteem.

“Let me tell you something. In Asia today, they don’t care about children’s self esteem. They care about math, whether they can read – in English – whether they understand why science is important, whether they have the grit and determination to be successful,” Bush said.

“You tell me which society is going to be the winner in this 21st Century: The one that worries about how they feel, or the one that worries about making sure the next generation has the capacity to eat everybody’s lunch?”

We've covered how the education system is in China just a bit here at Perdido Street School blog, but I'm going to revisit two recent posts as a rebuttal to Jeb Bush's jive:

Tell Me Again Why The U.S. Should Mimic The Chinese Education System?

A lot of these suicide stories are coming from South Korea, another country with a high stakes education system that leads to an awful lot of stress and pressure on children and teens, but this one's from China:

Surveillance cameras have caught the shocking moment an under-pressure Chinese student jumped to his death during class.

Heart-stopping footage claims to show the at first motionless boy suddenly leaving his desk, running over to a ledge and leaping out.

His actual jump occurs out of shot, and was not filmed due to the camera's angle.

But the devastated reaction of his fellow classmates, who sprint over to see what's happened before pacing up and down with their heads in their hands, appears to suggest he had tried to commit suicide.

A commenter at the Daily News writes:

How much longer are we going to pretend that children are something to ignore, mistreat, and mis-educate..... This child was coerced into believing this test was so important that combined with the rest of the stress he was feeling he ended his life. Here in the US the children are equally mistreated but they are ignored and mistreated along with being misled.

The older you get the more you realize it's not that big of a deal, and that you should be focusing on aspects of education that actually aren't in the curriculum. This common core crap and the overstressing of test results are completely destroying our children's futures.

And that's absolutely what the plutocrats in power want.
And this one:

Many In China Hate The Chinese Education System - Even If Arne And Barack Love It!

From The Guardian:

The streets surrounding Shijia primary school in Beijing were mobbed by a crowd of parents so dense that cars were obliged to beat a retreat.

At 3.45pm on Friday, 11-year-old Zou Tingting, five minutes late, bounded through the school's west gate and into her waiting mother's arms. Tingting's classes were over, but her day was just beginning – she had an hour of homework, plus lessons in ping pong, swimming, art, calligraphy and piano.
Tingting's mother, Huang Chunhua, said that, like many Chinese mothers, she once considered Tingting's academic performance her top priority; now she realises the importance of a well-rounded education. "I've seen British curricular materials, and I'm actually kind of jealous," she said. "British teachers guide students to discover things on their own – they don't just feed them the answers, like in China."

In recent weeks British parents and educators have been in a panic about the discrepancy between the Chinese education system and the UK's. In December the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the 2012 results for its triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test – a reading, maths and science examination administered to half a million 15-year-olds in 65 countries. Shanghai students topped the rankings; the UK ranked 26th.
Next week education minister Elizabeth Truss will lead a "fact-finding mission" to Shanghai to learn the secrets of China's success. She plans to adjust the UK's education policy accordingly.

Yet Chinese parents and educators see their own system as corrupt, dehumanising, pressurised and unfair. In fact, many are looking to the west for answers. Huang said that some parents bribe Shijia primary school to admit their children (though she declined to say whether she had done so herself).
Tingting attends an expensive cramming school at weekends, leaving her tired. She will probably have to abandon extracurricular activities in high school to devote more time to the college admission exam, called the gaokao. Many parents consider the gruelling nine-hour test a sorting mechanism that will determine the trajectory of their children's lives.

Chinese experts are also less impressed than Truss by the Pisa scores. "Even though Shanghai students scored well on the test, this doesn't mean that Shanghai's education system doesn't have any problems," said Lao Kaisheng, a professor in the education department of Beijing Normal University. "In fact, it's the opposite."

As long as China's education system remains vast but resource-constrained, Lao added, its schools will default to testing as a reliable indicator of competence. "The education system here puts a heavy emphasis on rote memorisation, which is great for students' test-taking ability but not for their problem-solving and leadership abilities or their interpersonal skills," he said. "Chinese schools just ignore these things."

Read the whole article - this is an important piece of journalism that gets at the lie that Asian education systems like the one's in China or South Korea, are vastly outperforming public schools in the United States or Britain.

We keep hearing from Duncan, Obama, et al. that the Chinese or the South Koreans are vastly outperforming us.

We hear the same from Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein et al.

But the truth is much more complex than the test scores these deformers hawk.

Later we'll take a look at the epidemic of suicides in South Korea and the misery many children in the South Korean education system feel over their circumstances.

I've asked this before, I'll as it again - is this the kind of education system we want to mimic here in the United States?