Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Daily News Hawks Merryl Tisch As Part "15 For 2015" List, But Carol Burris' Assessment Much More Accurate

It's so interesting to see the selective writing of the functionaries for the oligarchy at the Daily News when it comes to Merryl Tisch.

They have a "15 For 2015" fluff piece out today that promotes the usual neo-liberal claptrap you get from the Zuckerman Daily News -and Regents Chancellor Tisch is on that list:

Mayor de Blasio has often accused his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, of hastily abandoning failing schools in favor and closing and reopening them as clusters of new, small schools.

Although the evidence shows that the smaller schools have well served their students, de Blasio has done his own quick abandonment — of the reform strategy.

He and schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña say they will turn around 96 struggling campuses with new money and services, firing staff only as a last resort.

But state Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch is unlikely to let the experiment play out — and with good reason: The schools "have failed for generations now," she says.

She has the power to effectively order them closed if de Blasio and Fariña fail to sufficiently overhaul teaching staffs.

Meantime, Tisch will be at the center of negotiations to toughen teacher evaluations, with Gov. Cuomo breathing down her neck.

She'll continue to champion the worthy Common Core standards, which remain under siege across the state. In 2015, they will get weakened for good — or be cemented in classrooms from Brooklyn to Buffalo.

All that is after she finds a likeminded state education commissioner to replace the outgoing John King. Josh Greenman

What's missing from Josh Greenman's paean to Tisch?

Lots of stuff, including the awful Common Core implementation (which Governor Cuomo himself criticized, calling it "chaos") and Tisch's refusal to take responsibility for handing over a charter school to a con man named "Dr" Ted Morris Jr.

Carol Burris had a much more accurate assessment of Merryl Tisch at The Answer Sheet.

Here it is, in full:

The hallmark of a corporate reformer is an undying belief that numerical measures of accountability are the primary lever of school change. New York State Schools Chancellor, Merryl Tisch, is just such a reformer — a true believer in “what gets measured gets done.” From school, teacher and principal evaluation systems, measurement by the numbers distinguishes the focus of Tisch’s school reforms.

In describing her rollout of Common Core testing, Tisch said, “we jump into the deep end,” using the royal “we” to obscure the fact that kids were taking the jump. She also rejected the notion that school and educator ratings be put on hold during the rollout, stating that “we cannot have the implementation of Common Core that is isolated from an accountability system.”

Despite the repeated use of “we,” Tisch has excluded herself, her state commissioner of education and her Board of Regents from the ratings. Accountability is for students, educators and schools, who have little to no input into the commanded change.

Although I do not suggest we subject Tisch to the silly number ratings given to teachers and principals, I do think it is fair to review New York student growth under her leadership. Tisch was selected as chancellor in the spring of 2009. Since 2010, New York’s graduation rate increased only 1.5 percent, which includes two years of no growth at all. In looking at graduation data, one will note that prior to 2010, state graduation rates were climbing, even as graduation standards (meaning the required passing of Regents exams), were increasing. In addition, the earning of the Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, a consistent bar with no change in standards, has been flat since she became chancellor.

In 2009, the average New York SAT scores were 485 (reading), 502 (math), and 478 (writing). In 2014, they were nearly identical—488, 502, 478 —no improvement there to show.

Tisch “raised the bar” for Grade 3-8 proficiency in 2010, and in 2011 and 2012, there was little or no growth in student achievement. In 2013, the Common Core tests were given and proficiency rates dramatically dropped. Though the chancellor promised that scores would improve the second year of the Common Core tests, there were no improvements in English Language Arts scores and minimal improvement in math.

If teachers and principals are to be judged by score growth, what growth has the chancellor created after nearly six years at the helm? The whirling dervish of change in standards, tests, diploma requirements and accountability measures, has produced no discernible increase in student performance. Perhaps the hope is that if you change everything else, no one will notice that no progress has been made.

The fascination with holding teachers and schools accountable by the numbers has generated an endless (and expensive) stream of data from the New York State Education Department, which she oversees. One of the most recent measures was a report entitled “Where Are They Now?” described in an New York State Education Department slide show that makes claims about the percentages of New York public high school students who enroll in college.

In conjunction with this report, the state Education Department posted school by school figures, purporting to show how many graduates were attending college, with data that they claimed came directly from the National Student Clearinghouse.  The data are fraught with error and under-reporting of college enrollment, which I wrote about here. What I did not know when I wrote the blog was where the error originated. Since that time, I have received access to the database of my school’s graduates at the Clearinghouse level, and have determined that the vast majority of the under-reporting errors, (22 of 31 in a class of 261), were made in the generation of the State Education Department report. Meanwhile, Westchester and Rockland county districts are finding even greater rates of error than my school’s 12 percent, with some schools’ rates at over 20 percent.

What is remarkable is that the chancellor has yet to admit these errors, or even ask the department to take down the public reports, which can still be found here.

In the past month, other examples of serious error on the part of the New York State Education Department have come to light regarding charter school approval and regulation. Tisch has been part of a public campaign to increase charter schools, with the chancellor asserting, “I believe in opening them aggressively.”

Part of the aggressive campaign was the approval of the Greater Works Charter School by her Board of Regents. The leader of Greater Works was 22-year-old  Dr. Ted Morris, Jr. When it came to light that that his resume was a collection of lies and misrepresentations, Tisch not only deflected the blame but said that the charter school, whose board was recruited through Craig’s list, should still open. Following continued accounts in the press, New York State Education Department finally asked the charter to withdraw its application.

Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters provides an excellent account of that and other New York charter scandals here. She concludes her blog by asking in reference to the State Education Department and Tisch, “where is the accountability for them?”

Given the current system of appointment, Merryl Tisch, who has wealth and deep political connections, will likely remain in power. She is married to billionaire James S. Tisch, the CEO of the Loews Corporation, and has been a friend since childhood of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who controls the appointments through the votes of the Assembly. The people of New York have no direct mechanism to have her removed.

In her oversized influence on the fate of public school children, Tisch is hardly alone. Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton family, Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg are but a few of the other billionaire reformers who have managed to bend public education to their will, while absolving themselves from any accountability for the damage their policies have wrought. They are socially buffered by surrounding themselves with like-minded individuals who are insulated from bad educational policies because their children and grandchildren attend private schools or sycophants who tell them only what they want to hear. Public school educators and parents are caricatured and dismissed as either self-interested or ignorant and misinformed.

Healthy democracies infuse accountability throughout the system–from the bottom to the top. We cannot afford a governance system where those who assume positions of power–whether elected or appointed–escape responsibility.

This year, six Regents are up for reappointment. Given the past year of discontent — during which the majority of New York voters have rejected the Common Core, high-stakes standardized testing and the evaluation of teachers by test scores, polls shows — it is time for the Democratic Assembly to be accountable to the public by appointing Regents who more closely reflect the views and experience of their constituents. If they are not willing to assume that responsibility, then the public should demand a direct voice either through Regent or State Commissioner election.

Amazing how Daily News editor Josh Greenman managed to ignore all of the points Burris raised + the "Dr" Ted fiasco.

Par for the course, though, at both the Daily News editorial board and in the corridors of power.

Accountability is for the little people, skirting accountability is for the powerful and the Daily News editorial pages are there to spread the neo-liberal claptrap and propaganda.

1 comment:

  1. NAEP scores for the past four years should also be examined. They cast great doubt on the premise that more testing and less instruction will benefit NY's children. On those NAEP tests NY has fallen sharply while other Northeast states have remained more stable in their ranking. NY now trails states like Kentucky and Georgia in their NAEP performance. When do John King, Merryl Tisch and Little Mario quit blaming others and take responsibility for what their decision and actions are doing to education in NY? King was a fiasco who jumped ship just as the ship was beginng to go long as Tisch remains in office public education will remain rudderless--she must go! Keep the pressure on we should have more than 20% opt out this year!