Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, November 7, 2014

What Can Cuomo Actually Do To Schools And Teachers?

I want to ask you out there a few questions about what you think Cuomo can get away with doing to schools and teachers.

But first, let's recap what he has promised to do:

He has called the public school system a "monopoly" which he plans to "break".

He has said he likes charters (and we know they like him too - they have donated millions to him) and wants to promote charter growth.

He has said his APPR teacher evaluation system is the best in the nation, but nonetheless feels it can be "strengthened" by rigging it so that more teachers are rated ineffective or developing.

He says he will push for performance pay for teachers.

Randi Weingarten called one of these threats "campaign rhetoric," but since Cuomo keeps repeating them and has now said education reform will be a centerpiece of his second term, we have to assume none of this stuff is "rhetoric" anymore.

These are threats.

Okay, so there's the summary of where we stand with this.

Now here are my questions:

Will he try and carry out his "break the monopoly" threat statewide or just in certain districts where he can get away with it?

NYSED Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch engendered a lot of ill-will during their "Common Core Is Swell Tour" earlier in the year in places like Long Island, Westchester and Rockland Counties.

Does Cuomo really try and "break" the school system in these places too  or is it just Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, New York City, et al. where he tries to charterize entire districts?

As for APPR teacher evaluations, how does he make a system that superintendents in the Lower Hudson Valley have already declared a disaster any worse?

A veteran teacher, well-respected by parents, colleagues and administrators, is suing for what she says is an unfair rating caused by NYSED's value added growth measurement based upon her students' test scores.

Cuomo told parents in a campaign ad he would protect their children from "over-testing."

Does he push for more high stakes tests as part of APPR in order to punish teachers even though that risks alienating parents?

Does he not push for more tests but instead push for the testing component in APPR to go from 20% local measurements/20% state measurements to 40% state measurements instead?

While that seems like a sneaky way for Cuomo to stick it to teachers without sticking it to children, the reality is, any time consequences based upon test scores are added to teacher ratings, children are negatively affected by the pressure that change adds to the system.

So any changes he looks to make to APPR around the testing component are dicey for him, particularly after the education ad he ran claiming he's looking out for the kids in the state.

What else does he do to go after teachers?

Does he look to revise the 3020a procedures?

Does he go after tenure?

Does he become the 100% embodiment of Scott Walker in NY instead of just a 75% embodiment on him?

As for performance pay, he's already given the "carrots" in the form of state grants for merit pay.

Is there a "stick" he can use on us to force merit pay?

He's a big fan of tying state aid to new mandates.

Can he somehow use state aid to force "performance pay"?

I was talking with a colleague today and these were questions that came up in our discussion as we tried to figure out just what the "education reform centerpiece" of the second Cuomo term is going to be.

My colleague and I both think he will look to eliminate the charter cap completely, allowing for unfettered charter growth in NYC and other urban areas, while leaving wealthier districts essentially alone.

But after that, we were unsure what he does.

Its difficult to take a bludgeon to teachers and schools without taking it to students too.

If Cuomo goes too far with his bludgeoning, he risks a serious political backlash from parents (as has happened with Common Core.)

So, while Cuomo is undoubtedly talking tough now, it remains to be seen how much of that tough talk gets turned into action.

What say you?

What do you think he'll try and get away with?


  1. TENURE: I do not think he can totally eliminate tenure as he would have to eliminate due process rights for all civil service workers in New York State. He could however, try to pass legislation to extend probation time from 3 years to 5 or more years. 3020-A: As we have already seen, the majority of teachers brought up on 3020-A chargers usually get off with fines or are forced to resign. He could hire more legal department personnel and create even bigger "gotcha squads" statewide. TEACHER OBSERVATIONS: He could very easily push for more formal and informal observations of teachers. CHARTER SCHOOLS: As mentioned, he will without a doubt push to raise or eliminate the charter cap. TESTING: He could push to change the local measures to a smaller percentage of a teachers yearly evaluation. Personally, I am most fearful of more observations and the possible rise of district "gotcha squads". As a tenured teacher, I am lucky to not have to worry about waiting longer to gain tenure. As for charter schools, I work in a large NYS school district where I have a lot of years of seniority earned already. Charter schools will not be direct threat to my job yet. One thing is for sure, Cuomo is gung ho on this mission and we will probably be hearing from him sooner rather than later of his devilish plans.

  2. I don't know what he'll do BUT, I do believe that our pension system will be kept safe and sound. If there was ANY push to attack pensions you can bet that there would be a statewide push by every public employee union to push for term limits in Albany. That would end ANY discussion about attacking pensions.

    I'm betting that the Moreland Commission mess is going to keep Andy on the defense despite all his bravado and tough talk.

  3. He will get rid of the locally negotiated APPR plans in favor of one for the whole state. It will be just as bad as, if not worse, that NYC's current plan.

  4. Here's to the Moreland mess, hoping that keeps him busy.
    What a disgusting suit. His face says it all.

  5. He doesn't have to do much directly to teachers. Just open the gates to unlimited charters and urge parents to go in that direction. When NYC is 30% charterized that is critical mass and the concept of a teacher union begins to disappear. If they offer Unity bogus contracts with charters they will be fully on board. Public schools will be left with the remains and teaching there will be so hard that we will see a revolving teaching force where tenure won't even be an issue.

  6. He will threaten everything you list - elimination of tenure, merit pay, more aggressive test-based evaluations, expansion of charters. Also tax-break pseudo vouchers and district consolidation. Much of the agenda will be unpalatable to the Westchester and Nassau parents he can't afford to alienate but the threat of it may be enough to force what he and his reform-Dem backers really want - the privatization of urban schools through charters.

    It's not clear who would stop this. Obviously not the Republicans and Assembly Dems have already voted almost to a person to fund charter rents out of public school operating budgets. They can find some excuse to compromise on charter expansion as they did with the budget vote. DeBlasio will be constrained by his desire to renew mayoral control. The Greens care but they're not big enough yet. It will come down to what the people in the neighborhoods targeted by charters do.

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