New York

New York: Is This the Plan to End Public Education?

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This is a startling blog post that has been going viral. It was written by Michael Lambert of the Gloversville Teachers Association. It warns that Governor Andrew Cuomo and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch are together planning changes that would destroy public education in New York and end the careers of many teachers who ran afoul of the state’s evaluation requirements. Those evaluation requirements are based on value-added-measures that expert Audrey Amrein Beardsley recently described as “idiotic.”

 

Eric DeCarlo, president of the Scotia-Glenville Teachers Association, adapted it from a letter written by Mike Mosal, president of the Burnt Hills Teachers Association; these teachers work in small districts in upstate New York. The letter has been spread widely among teachers, parents, and community members upstate. Ric and Mike see the handwriting on the wall, and they think it is menacing.

 

This is part of the letter. It is worth reading the letter in its entirety:

 

Recently, the Governor’s office and Regents Chancellor Tisch exchanged letters about the future of education in New York. The links to these letters were sent out in an email last week to the Association. You can read the full letters at those links. The conversation between these two can be broken down into the following “reforms” that could be implemented this spring.

 

1. 40% of teacher evaluation should be tied to growth scores. The local 20% achievement (SLO) should be eliminated.

2. Any teacher deemed “ineffective” on the new 40% state score would be deemed ineffective overall (no matter their scores on the local observation 60%).

3. Any teacher who receives two consecutive ineffective ratings would not be allowed back into the classroom (apparently without a 3020-A hearing or due process. Additionally, all of the current 3020-A hearing officers would be replaced with “state employees”. The Regents seek to replace the last gatekeepers of due process with their own appointees.

4. No student could be scheduled to have an “ineffective” teacher two years in a row (by proposed changes to state education law). This would likely require disclosure of which teachers are “ineffective” for scheduling purposes (and possibly to parents). This is a massive invasion of privacy that was already legislated. Such information is currently not shared outside of the administration and impacted teacher. Parents can only gain this information through a district determined process and, even then, the parents can only know where their student’s teacher falls on the “HEDI” range.

5. Merit pay would be established and, apparently, would not be collectively bargained. Districts would be empowered to “design innovative compensation models based on educator performance”. According to Chancellor Tisch’s letter, our Association would not be privy to the process for how this “compensation” would be doled out and what the criteria would be for merit pay.

6. Teachers would be required to wait five years before they could be granted tenure. Additionally, teacher certification tests would become vastly more challenging.

7. Schools who do not meet the Governor and Chancellor Tisch’s performance expectations, would be closed and replaced with “institutions that are up to the task” which would likely be for-profit charter schools. Additionally, Chancellor Tisch is effectively asking the state legislature for unfettered authority to open and close schools based on metrics (state test scores) that she controls. The Regents and the State Education Department can raise or lower cut scores, and therefore “achievement” gains or losses, at a whim. We have seen this over the past two years as the Common Core assessments become integrated into the APPR. This is, without question, unlimited power for Tisch, the Regents, and the enemies of public education. Furthermore, Tisch seeks to uncap the limit on for-profit charter schools.

 

These changes are not speculative or “what if’s”.  Read the letters linked above, read what NYSUT is saying. This is our FUTURE!!!!

 

In 2010, all of us (NYSUT included) were caught off guard at the scope and scale of Race to the Top, the Common Core standards, and the APPR law 3012-c. These initiatives completely changed education as we know it. These changes, with very few exceptions, were wholly negative for teachers and bad for children.

 

Here we are, four years later, with two of the most important figures in state politics and education having an open discussion about how to unequivocally destroy public education in the state of New York. They have become our enemies and our students enemies. They are brash, unencumbered, and openly declaring war on our profession. They seek to eliminate collective bargaining’s impact in the areas of evaluation. They ignore mandatory subjects of negotiation, like compensation. They have so little respect for teachers, and the institutions that represent us, that they openly write about changing due process tenure. This would have been unthinkable five years ago. They do not care about what’s best for kids, teachers, or schools; only headlines and perception. There is no subterfuge here. Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Tisch seek to end public education as we know it. They want to break the back of NYSUT. They want to make our loca irrelevant. If we do not act now, all will be lost.

 

Simply put, we are at war!

 

I say to you now, we must become part of the solution. We must take up this cause as we never have before. We cannot be blind to what is about to occur in this state budget cycle.

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