Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, April 24, 2015

Merryl Tisch Plays Political Games

Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY:

ALBANY—When state Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch announced late Wednesday a plan to delay implementation of new teacher evaluations, she turned some of her high-profile critics into supporters overnight.

She also earned the ire of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

For her, it’s a win-win.

Tisch’s decision to use the board’s regulatory authority to circumvent what she called an “unrealistic” statutory deadline for districts to adopt new evaluation plans addressed critics’ contention that the board has forced reforms on schools without providing enough time or resources to implement them properly.

 It also allowed her to shift the blame for the already unpopular rating system back to Cuomo, with whom she has played a political game of hot potato for years.

If Merryl Tisch thinks she can survive as chancellor by playing off Cuomo, she's got another thing coming:

A coalition of parents’ groups that organized a boycott of state English and math exams is calling on Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to resign, claiming she has left New York’s education policy in shambles.

The group released a list of demands that include a reduction in testing and establishing an independent review of state Common Core standards.

This is as much Tisch's education reform agenda as Cuomo's and if she thinks calling for delays in the implementation of the evaluation plan is going to make people forget that or her record as chancellor, she's wrong.

As New York State Allies For Public Education put it yesterday:

This past week, the national attention focused on the parent uprising taking place in New York State. Spurred to action by the refusal of both the Governor and the NYS Education Department’s failure to respond to legitimate concerns, thousands of parents fought back to protect their children.

At this time, estimates indicate parents of close to 200,000 students this year have refused New York State's Common Core testing agenda and the final figures are expected to be even higher. The educational program of the state is in chaos. Leadership is more important than ever.

On Sunday, April 19th the Editorial Board of The Journal News declared, "The stunning success of the test-refusal movement in New York is a vote of no confidence in our state educational leadership" in calling for Chancellor Merryl Tisch to step aside.

New York State Allies for Public Education, a grassroots coalition of over fifty parent and educator advocacy organizations from all corners of the Empire State, stands with the Editorial Board of The Journal News. Chancellor Tisch must step down.

The only way for the Board of Regents, Assembly, and Senate to regain trust of their constituents is to call for the Regents to empower a new leader to fix within its authority, the Cuomo budget legislation fiasco and the misguided Regents Reform Agenda.

“Parents have been left with no choice. We will submit our refusal letters, which is our parental right, on day one of school, next year and every year and if those in power will not listen, we will free our children from a test driven, developmentally inappropriate education,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and Long Island Opt Out founder.

“For the past two years Chancellor Tisch has repeatedly ignored parents at forums throughout the state. She is incapable of leading the state in a new direction because she believes what is happening is just fine and her latest plea for asking for more time is just a distraction from the real issues. Her repeated calls for critics to “calm down” indicates her unwillingness to change course.” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“On Chancellor Tisch's watch, the work of the State Education Department has been outsourced to a privately funded ‘Regents Fellows’ think tank. It is not surprising that the reforms put forth by this think tank advance the agenda of the wealthy ‘yacht set’ and corporate-linked groups that fund the Regent Fellows: The Robin Hood Foundation, Gates Foundation, and even Chancellor Tisch herself. When you replace a public service with a private organization that advances corporate agendas, New Yorkers know that is corruption,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent and Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY founder.

“While the Governor has demonstrated blatant disregard for the will of the people by doubling down on the use of high stakes testing, the State Education Department and Chancellor Tisch similarly ignored parent concerns regarding inappropriate test content by forcing children to read passages on last week’s ELA tests that were up to four years above grade level followed by vague and confusing questions,” said Jessica McNair, Oneida County public school parent, Central NY Opt Out co-founder, and educator.

Fred Smith, testing specialist, NYC public schools retired administrative analyst, and Change the Stakes member said, “Instead of transparency and disclosure of complete and timely test data that would open the quality of the ELA and math exams to independent review, Tisch has ruled over an unaccountable testing program that flies at near-zero visibility--in a fog of flawed field testing procedures, age-inappropriate poorly written items, the covert removal of test questions after they have been scored, arbitrarily drawn cut off scores, and the misapplication of the results to reach unsupportable conclusions about students, teachers, and schools." 

Delaying a horrendous teacher evaluation system by a few months will not erase Merryl Tisch's record or calls for her to go.

Merryl Tisch must step down as chancellor and if she does not, pressure must be put on the "heavy hearts" in the Assembly to let them know that a political price will be paid for their continued support of Merryl Tisch and her education reform agenda.


  1. From the very start Tisch and Cuomo have imposed their own agendas on public schools in NYS. Had either of them engaged school superintendents and/or teachers from the get-go, public school education would be very different than it is today. Adding gasoline to the fire, both Tisch and Cuomo have seriously alienated parents. They have also grossly underestimated the pushback from parents. If Albany isn't listening now, there will be hell to pay for years to come. NYS public school education is in shambles thanks to the ruling elite who sold-out to corporate America and Wall Street hedge fund investors looking to sytematically dismantle public schools in NYS. Just like King and Cuomo's failed philosophy over school district consolidation, the latest ed reform package that Cuomo has strong armed through the legislature is going to be his "unwanted legacy."

    Long Island has become GROUND ZERO (in addition to the Lower Hudson Valley and other pockets around NYS) for the Opt-Out movement. As Cuomo pow-wows with his legal team to decide how they will "punish" school districts that had high percentages of students who did not take the ELA and math tests, public opinion has turned on the self-proclaimed "King of Albany."

    To quote my favorite movie COOL HAND LUKE, "What we have here, is a failure to communicate." Andrew Cuomo and Merryl Tisch have gone too far. There is no turning back the clock. The day of reckoning is coming ...

  2. Once upon a time we had something called shared decision making. It was all the rage. Imagine: administrators, teachers and parents working together at the local school level to do what was in the best interests of children! Those days are long gone. Today, we live in an oligarchy and the 1% are in charge because they have millions of dollars to throw at public education that has been long denied proper funding.

    Our governor decries the cost of public school education in NYS and yet, his Start-up NY has been a huge bust. Why? Because just living in NY with all its taxes and high cost of living is nearly impossible. It is plainly obvious that Cuomo is looking to privatize education so that the money Albany collects can be invested in other areas. It's the same philosophy at the national level. Break the backs of the public schools and make parents send their kids to private schools. This will let federal and state government still over tax us while diverting our money to other areas (military).

    I am disheartened. Cuomo and Tisch must go. But now, Hillary Clinton also appears to be just another one of the 1%. So sad.

  3. EXPLAIN: Does this mean teachers in NYC will still have the exact same evaluation system that is place right now? In other words, there will be no outside evaluators come September?

  4. So far, that is what it sounds like BUT, I wouldn't bet the farm on it. Cuomo will figure out a way to have the best of all worlds. He hates teachers so much that he'll create some sort of tit for tat trade-off just so he doesn't look like he's backing down from teachers. The guy is a sociopath of epic proportions.

  5. With this transparent bit of misdirection, Tisch apparently wants us to be taken by a phony "Good cop, Bad cop" scenario.

    But, as always, she's being dishonest; it's really "Bad cop, Worse Cop."

  6. Once again, RBE strikes it just right. Tisch is playing political games and the politicians and her fellow Regents might just be dumb enough to fall for it. Let's not forget that Tisch wrote a letter to Cuomo advocating for raising the testing component of APPR to 40% and lengthening the time it takes to get tenure, etc. In other words, Tisch is certainly no friend of public school teachers. Tisch has to go and the sooner the better.

    A friend of mine who is a superintendent feels that the delay Tisch is advocating for will mean the end of the newly enacted evaluation law. He said he has seen things like this play out for 40 years. The delay gets it off the burner and then something else happens in the interim. I hope he is right, but I have serious doubts.

    NYSUT and all of us have to keep up the pressure on the coward Assembly and Senate members, letting both groups know that we intend to hold them to account for their votes against us. It's the only thing these liars respect.

  7. What about the extending of tenure to four years?

  8. Tisch is using a notorious "bait and switch" tactic on the parents especially those parents where their children are high-achievers by exempting them from exams. In Albany, those politicians who were critics turned supporters because of Tisch's delay only tells the public that they don't know how to understand their constituents' feelings and are not reliable. Those politicians don't have cojones at all..

  9. The Regents is the body that sets Ed policy and hires the Ed Commissioner. Its members serve staggered four year terms. Four members were replaced this year. Let's put pressure on them, the "old" members who should be with us (Cashin, Young, Rosa and Tilles), the members whose terms expire next winter. If those term-ending members want to stay on the board, they need to see the light and replace Tisch. If they don't support us, then "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS"!!