Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fred LeBrun: Cuomo May Cave On Common Core/Testing Because His Poll Numbers Suck

Governor Cuomo's poll numbers are not only underwater, they're deep underwater.

In the last Siena poll, Cuomo stands with 40% job approval, 58% disapproval.

 On individual issues, the numbers are even worse.

On public education, 68% disapprove of the job he is doing, 27% approve.

On corruption, 69% disapprove of the job he is doing, 23% approve.

On the economy, 63% disapprove of the job he is doing, 35% approve.

On improving the state's infrastructure, 65% disapprove of the job he is doing, 29% approve.

These are not good poll numbers.

And the numbers have been this way for a while - last December, Cuomo was at 42% job approval in the Siena poll and the numbers have languished all year.

So what's a governor to do but try and juice those numbers, starting with education

Cue Fred LeBrun: 

Things are at long last looking up for beleaguered public education in this state, probably.

I'd like to say the likelihood of significant corrections coming to Common Core, excessive and inappropriate standardized testing, and a hard-wired connection between those tests and teachers' jobs, is because the politician most responsible for the total mess we're in, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has finally seen the light.

His infatuation with data driven education ''reform,'' fueled by millionaire political donors, has been a disaster, for him and for our children. It's his law that's codified the problem. It's his law that needs amending.

But I have a hunch closer to the truth would be the sobering recognition by the governor that what desperately needs fixing and quick are persistently in-the-toilet poll numbers over his intrusive handling of education issues.

Voters get it.

Especially with Judgment Day a mere five months away, when the next round of standardized tests are mandated in English and math for grades 4 to 8. That's also about the time we are apt to see a parental opt-out uprising across the state of a scary magnitude if big changes aren't already made or in the works.

So Cuomo needs to distance himself from his own mess pronto and be part of the solution rather than the problem for a change.

LeBrun sees cause for optimism that Cuomo's Common Core task force - completely controlled by the governor (as all things are in this state) - has allowed dissenting voices this time around while previous Cuomo-controlled education commissions did not (see here.)

LeBrun is also encouraged by the appointment of a critic of the state's education policies, Jere Hochman, to work as Cuomo's top education adviser and by the news that more than 3/4s of school districts in the state are going to get waivers from Cuomo's latest iteration of APPR.

And LeBrun sees Testing Doyenne Merryl Tisch's departure as cause for smiling, since so much of the damage done to the system was wrought by Tisch herself.

But like all savvy Cuomo-watchers, LeBrun remains skeptical:

Now, the devil remains in the details, and forgive the state's teachers, educators — and parents — for being skeptical. The last five years has been a horror show. At the very least sole reliance on the flawed ''growth score'' from standardized tests in evaluating teacher performance has to change. It's written in the law. Student performance, and an appropriate level of teacher accountability, can be measured in a number of different ways, and alternatives need to be part of the dialogue. Common Core standards need new flexibilities, and a total rethink down in the lower grades where serious issues of developmentally inappropriate testing, questions, and frequency are recurring criticisms.

It won't be all that hard to torque the law back to reasonable. Now let's see it happen before we break out the confetti.

To be frank, I'm not ready to buy the confetti, let alone get it out and begin celebrating just yet.

NYSED Commissioner Elia told us she wants to repaint the Common Core standards so that people will like them better.

I'm not so sure all of what we're seeing out of Cuomo and NYSED is anything other than a repainting job meant to fool parents and educators into thinking state pols and educrats are listening to their concerns while really not listening to their concerns.

Tisch herself said one of her biggest regrets as Regents Chancellor was not communicating with parents the wonders of Common Core and testing well enough so that there wouldn't have been the rebellion the state has seen over both.

Call me cynical, call me jaded, but I haven't yet seen any tangible policy change that says to me the Endless Testing regime and the damaging Common Core State (sic) Standards are going anywhere.

What I see so far is a change in messaging, not a change in policy or agenda.

Calls for limiting testing from either President Obama or Governor Cuomo are jive when teachers and schools are rated (and fired or closed) based upon test scores.

So long as the tests carry so much weight, the system will be rife with test prep and test anxiety.

As for the Common Core, until these standards are revisited and the insane focus on "rigor" all the time is changed, schools will continue to be misery factories for both children and teachers.

In many schools, students do the same thing in every class, day after day - close reading informational texts that are several grade levels above in difficulty, responding to text-based questions and writing evidence-based argumentative essays on these texts.

This is happening not just in English class but in social studies, science, health - even art, music and vocational classes.

Teachers who deviate from what is considered "rigorous" are punished -  administrators enforce total compliance through the APPR teacher evaluation system and the Danielson rubric.

Until some teacher autonomy is returned, some creativity and allowance to deviate from the "One Way To Teach Them All" approach that we have now, many children are going to continue to hate school and learning.

And if you doubt this, ask some who go to schools where it's "All Rigor All The Time" - ask them how they like close reading day after day, writing argumentative essays day after day, spending three weeks on one short story and close reading it over and over until they don't care anything about it.

Cuomo said change is coming to the system - but given this is the same guy who said he wants to "break" the public school monopoly, I'm not ready to declare whatever "change" he plans to bring good change.

So far, all I see is a change to the messaging.


  1. Window dressing.

    - There is no real discussion about VAM-APPR. There wont be either because this is what they are trying to PROTECT with all of this change and modification. The center of what they want is to have an avenue to remove teachers. This scaling back on tests and common core redux is ALL ABOUT maintaining the central vision of destroying organized, professional, semi-middle class teachers.

    - they want to scale down tests and rebrand common core, thats all. They want to quiet parents.

    - Hochman is an empty gesture.

    - We face the same challenges right now as we did 6 months ago.

    RBE, keep this up. You are spot on for being skeptical of this nonsense. We cant allow the media, bloggers, teachers, union people to think that this latest stuff from Cuomo is a victory. It is not. In fact, it is a reorganization designed to continue and further their aims AGAINST organized teachers.

    If we relax now and think this is a victory, we will be facing an even bigger juggernaut against us very soon.

    We have to be and stay sharper then the reformers and that means paying attention to what they ARE NOT saying as well as what they are.

    Nobody said VAM-APPR has to go....therefore it is clear that they intend on keeping it. Its the most important thing to them....not common core.

    1. I totally agree. They,want the teaching professional ro be without benefits and the ability to complain about anything. So you need a strategy to constantly get rid of teachers. The press conference convened by Success Academy with crying principals is the future of education.

  2. Resistance emerged that kept Quid Pro Quomo, Tisch and King from steamrolling everyone. Now their two strategies involving quikc and constant change have been stymied. The result is that Quomo et al are now being held responsible for outcomes--and the outcomes when you intentionally try to crate a crisis are ugly. You own the results now Quomo--and you deserve the fiasco you and Tisch set out to create! Even the media are beginning to catch on that the critics balmed others for the crisis they intentionally created. The public is not buying Cheater schools as the answer--so not Quid Pro Quomo has an educational fiasco on his hands--and no solution! Quomo is likely to have to admit that Albany and Dc ahs created a fiasco and pronounce he support local control--so he can blame localities for the mess he intentionally laid upon NY State!

  3. RBE, my school ditched the Danielson rubric for a somewhat less onerous one... have you heard of this happening elsewhere? Thanks.

  4. They are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I am not buying it . If I never hear the word data again, I will be happy. They are not data points. They are children.

    Abigail Shure

  5. I'd love to see what Tisch imagines as better communication with parents. It probably looks something like this...

  6. Prediction: Cuomo the snake finally listens via his "task force" and tries to be the savior of public education

    Not because he believes patents,and educators are right but because his poll numbers are spiraling lower and lower, his daily dirty dubious dealings are coming out into the more and more, Preet and other investigative pressures are chipping away at him.

    He is vulnerable, whatever hope he has for political survival may actually hinge on public education......and righting his wrongs. He will use us as part of his commission to fix everything that HE set into motion.

    So Jessica McNair and all you others that get a chance to speak...KEEP HAMMERING EVEN HARDER.

    Parents that have sat by and a watched others fight for your children, NOW is the time to join the the fight. Teachers, admin, superintendents, and BOE'S who live in fear and have allowed yourselves to be pawns....bullied about....NOW is the time to find your voices.

    To all that have CHOSEN to just walk around like nothing has been going on....NOW is the time to educate yourself and join ALL OF US.

    UNITE, FIGHT, WIN for your kids your schools, your communities.

  7. It is my most fervent wish that the next poll reaches a large number of New Yorkers who are military veterans. For the second year in a row, Governor Cuomo vetoed the Veteran's Equality Act. This bill would permit honorably discharged veterans who are public workers the opportunity to buy back three years of their service for pension credit. The bill had unanimous support in the Assembly and the Senate, both years. The current legislation is disjointed and discriminatory. Combat veterans from Afghanistan and most most female vets are prohibited from purchasing their time. The Governor's disdain for public workers knows no boundaries-even veterans. Call Senator Larkin and Assemblywoman Paulin and demand an override of the Governor's veto of the Veteran's Equality Act.

  8. Elia has stated that teachers with substantial drops in performance can challenge the evaluations and ask for a review. Thus making the implication that the "innocent" should not be concerned, because there is a procedure in place to protect them. OR NOT because IF a teacher is determined ineffective on the state test portion of the evaluation, it will basically count for 100% of their overall score - .(The test scores will override the 50% observation portion) Why even have observations of your teaching if they are only going to be dismissed as irrelevant by a review team that must follow New York State Law? What a charade! The system of APPR is designed to fail a certain percentage of teachers just as the tests are designed to fail a certain percentage of students. Elia has stated that "The standards have to challenge the students to be really stretched." NOTHING has changed for teachers or students! The students only recourse is to opt out. The only thing being stretched is the truth.

  9. Anon 7:51 nails it. This is a farce. It has completely blown up in NY. When will this collapse?

  10. I see all of this, including Obama's Historic and Revolutionary elimination of .34% (4 hours) of testing time all indications that ed activism has the powers that be running scared. None of it may have any substance whatsoever, as the wee folk surely are too naive to know line of shit when they hear it, but they are now *reacting.*

    Awesome. Push harder. Half a million refusals this spring will be the wooden stake through the heart of these ed vampires.

  11. Stats given here, almost concerning towards great bodies because these are the general elements which are indeed considered to be so important.