Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Optics Of NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia

Conor Skelding at Capital NY covered NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia's visit to a Yonkers school.

This showed up in the story:

Elia toured the school with Moira Gleason, director of the Summer Literacy Academy and an administrator at Yonker’s Montessori School 27 during the regular school year. The four-week literacy program is supported by New York University’s Steinhardt school. Gleason said 257 students were enrolled and more than 300 were on a waiting list.


She also was highly conscious of her visit’s optics.

As Gleason first began to lead Elia into her first classroom, the commissioner asked her to wait a minute. Could she walk with her down the hall so Westchester News 12's cameras could get a shot?

When a Verizon reporter began to interview her, she pivoted so that she spoke in front of a student mural rather than a bare tile wall.

Ah, yes, the kind of leader who instinctively cares about television optics.

Any readers of the blog surprised that's how MaryEllen Elia rolls?

The Skelding piece describes Elia coaxing kids to answer some text-based questions about Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella too but you wonder, given how concerned she is with TV optics, how phonied up this performance with the children was as well.

Just something to keep in mind as we battle Elia over the coming months.


  1. Yet another political wannabe pretending to care about the kids.

    1. There is so much of this in the "leadership" class, isn't there?

  2. My guess is that Elia's "optics consciousness" will have a fairly profound effect (negatively from our point of view) on her tenure in NY, and how NYSED rolls through these coming years.

    She will last longer than King. She will not have the easy, low-lying fruit F-ups that King did. She will have more support. She will garner more support within the Ed. halls of government, and with the public. In short, she will be a much sterner foe to us working teachers. I'm not saying she is on the path to gaining universal love, but what I am saying is that King will seem like amateur hour compared to her. (And he was....complete amateur and even still: look at the damage he did!!)

    And no, her awful past from whereverthehell Florida will not rise to the top of the narrative here in NY. That past is for us, a hyper-minority....teachers who care about public education and our employment into the play with and know about. It will not become a "thing" especially when she got the tacit consent of McGee/NYSUT. NYSUT leadership could have made her past a huge problem for her if they said very publicly, "We are against Elia not only on principle, but also based on X,Y,and Z facts from her past, and we will work tirelessly to oppose not only her appointment but also any agenda that she would seek to put in place." NOW THAT WOULD BE A UNION!!! Not really very politic, but man would that be something to behold!

    Anyhow, she is here to stay for quite some time I think. She is a crown jewel in the loss that we took since January as teachers. Her tenure will do a huge amount of damage to what remains of organized, middle-class teachers in the state.

    If NYSUT would shut the hell up for a minute and be clear-headed they would see that we haven't "won" even one crumb and that in fact the hugely powerful, reformer triumvirate of Cuomo, Tisch, and reformist NYSED Chair (Elia) are very much still entrenched and as powerful (perhaps more) as ever.


    1. You have declared defeat before remembering that she will be thrown under the bus by Cuomo at the first need he has to pawn off problems onto somebody else.

      APPR is going to be a mess.

      You can bet Cuomo will blame the Regents and NYSED for "implementation."

      Don't declare defeat yet.

      Elia's thin-skinned, as shown by her battles with the Hillsborough board in which she publicly politicked against one of them.

      Watch what happens when she's publicly challenged.

  3. I can only suppose, when your substance is based on nothing, that appearances become everything.

    1. True, but when your adversaries are NYSUT, a little competence in the image category can win the day.

      NYSUT leadership was bowled over by King!! And King was, to be kind, perhaps the least competent political-appointee in the country. (bold statement, I know, but I mean it.)

      So Elia's image consciousness is actually a huge redoubt against a "foe" like NYSUT leadership. As far as opt-out? Well those parents are definitely way more astute, conscious, and intelligent than NYSUT leadership by a long shot, BUT don't forget: Opt-Out as a movement DOES NOT perfectly overlap and line up with our agenda as organized working teachers. They cover the whole testing thing, but Elia's tenure will likely be about pacifying the parents on the testing front (attempting to, hard, anyway) and F'ing teachers in every single place that Opt-Out doesn't cover....APPR, 3020A process, etc etc etc etc etc. Its an obvious thing to do from Elia's point of view....find the places where Opt-Out isn't so consious of/caring about, and dig in there against the teachers. No doubt NYSUT leadership will be in shock when that plays out, but even I could see that coming!

      So Elia's image consciousness will count there in a big way.....working to DIVIDE the politically potent opt-out from the politically impotent teachers of the great Empire State of New York.

    2. NYSUT is not her only (potential since they're still declaring victory of her appointment) conflict.

      There are the parents too, who ultimately were the ones who did King in at Poughkeepsie.

      Just keep the faith, keep chipping away at Elia's image, keep telling people about the track record she had in Hillsborough (including the failure to take responsibility or action for the dead students) - believe me, there will be cracks in public image soon enough.

      She arrived from Hillsborough with a lot of baggage. That suggests she is not the smooth operator you think she is.

    3. Don't underestimate NYSAPE. Their Facebook page already has postings that address their unhappiness with Cuomo and Elia. They want laws and policies changed. They recognize that the movement is towards destroying public schools and not just tests and teachers.

    4. That's right.

      I'd take NYSAPE in a scrape with reformers over NYSUT any day.

  4. What I find amazing is how often the Regents get it wrong. This is just one more time. Collectively, they are a group that is so out of touch with the reality of classroom teaching as to be frightening. Yes, they regularly visit schools, but they must not be paying attention or they cannot interpret and process what they are seeing. As a group they are worse than useless. They have played a prominent role in the undermining and destruction of public education and the teaching profession.

  5. The last set of NYSUT officers did more to protect teachers than they are getting credit for doing. New York was the only state in which teacher locals had the ability to bargain in the face of the "accountability" juggernaut sweeping the country with the Race to the Top money. In the year before they lost their positions to Revive "reformers" they had established a number of connections with parent groups and others who truly support public education. Their work was despite the push/pull of UFT and the traitors to public education in Unity Caucus who sold them out for a seat at a different table = NYSUT headquarters. Are we better off now that NYSUT has been revived? Have they fulfilled any of their promises? When did we get 50% ratings based on test scores? When did the formerly supportive legislators turn on us? Cuomo was just as much of a bully in the past, but when the new group blocked a primary endorsement of Teachout and a general election endorsement of Hawkins, were they protecting us from retaliation by the bully Cuomo (how did that work out?) or were they doing the bidding of Mulgrew/Weingarten for some mysterious benefit to be gained by UFT? Any coalition partners we have now were established by the old group of officers.

  6. I have an idea for NYSAPE. On their Facebook page they have a posting that says they are working on an opt-out letter for September. Why don't they use some of their funds to print the opt-out letter in some neighborhood papers such as "The Brooklyn Paper ". This way they can help bring NYC parents on board as well. NYC parents need more nudging. It would help the movement grow exponentially.