Thursday, December 10, 2015

Don't be Fooled by Cuomo's Mea Culpa on Testing

As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pretends to listen to parents and teachers, he hopes they don't know how to read.

Buried at the bottom of a recent press release announcing the "recommendations" of his education task farce is proof that Cuomo is open to changing nothing

The Education Transformation Act of 2015 will remain in place, and no new legislation is required to implement the recommendations of the report, including recommendations regarding the transition period for consequences for students and teachers. During the transition, the 18 percent of teachers whose performance is measured, in part, by Common Core tests will use different local measures approved by the state, similar to the measures already being used by the majority of teachers. 
Yes, tests will still count for 50% of a teacher's evaluation.

The so-called “local measures" will require the state’s seal of approval, and the cut-points on the convoluted “matrix” that determines if teachers keep their jobs will be tweaked just enough so heads roll—regardless of how “fair” the tests appear. Moreover, the number of tests will double as students will take one test to grade their teachers, and one test that will, according to Cuomo, be "meaningless" until the 2019-2020 school year. So much for reducing the amount of testing. 

School districts can now expect a full-court press by Cuomo and his slimy associates to convince them to agree to his asinine teacher evaluation law (APPR) or lose more funding. After all, the (Common Core) tests won't count for another four years, even though communities and careers will still depend on tests.   

Additionally, everything else in the Lobbyist for the Student's infamous Education Transformation Act remains, including receivership and weakened due process rights. As Cuomo maintains, the law will not change. The test is still king.   
Though federal law now says states don't have to use test scores to rate teachers, Cuomo doesn't care. He will use any means necessary to break public education and hand the pieces over to his Wall Street donors. Cuomo is too greedy and prideful to try to save face. 

Education historian Diane Ravitch recently wondered why Cuomo thinks he can control education since the New York State Constitution grants that power to the Board of Regents, not the governor. Cuomo gets control by linking ludicrous laws to budgets which are rammed though in the middle of the night. As he once said, he is the government, and public education and all of its democracy threatens Cuomo's control.   

It's time for spineless, heavy-hearted legislators to take control away from Cuomo and ram through legislation on behalf of the communities they claim to represent. 

Nothing short of a complete rebuke of Cuomo's toxic agenda will stop 500,000 test refusals now. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Paladino Attacks B-Lo Blogger, Invokes Roosevelt

B-lo blogging brother Sean Crowley recently drew the ire of former New York gubernatorial candidate and all-around assclown Carl Paladino:
"As for Sean Crowley, I observe him as an irresponsible, muckraking conspiracy theorist who...commands no respect in the Buffalo community." 
Note how Paladino refers to Crowley's fine educational musings as "muckraking." A close reading of an American history textbook reveals that President Theodore Roosevelt popularized the term at the turn of the 20th Century, when public corruption and abuse ran as rampant as rats.

Revolutions in printing created a media vacuum that was rapidly filled by writers whose words scraped the depths of injustice. Muckraking extraordinaire Upton Sinclair exposed the horrors of meat factories in The Jungle, for example, while Nelly Bly faked insanity to expose the horrors of a women's lunatic asylum in New York City.

Far from "irresponsible", Sinclair, Bly and others prompted plutocrats to be responsive to the public, the essence of any healthy democracy. 

Perhaps Paladino agrees that we've entered a new age of muckraking. With the 
explosion of the internet, bloggers and social media gadflies are subsuming mass-printed paparazzi. Meanwhile, the truth is just as tenuous as it was 100 years ago, though lies now circle 
the world before the truth gets its pants on.

Like the First Amendment, the truth has always been a messy thing, especially when it's buried in the muck of graft. Paladino must therefore carefully consider the veracity of such toxic tags as "commands no respect" before slinging them at others.

It seems Paladino's own brand of respect includes physical barbs, as demonstrated by this 2010 confrontation with muckraking journalist Fred Dicker:

In the midst of his gubernatorial campaign, Paladino, ever the conspiracy theorist himself, accused Dicker of being a "stalking horse" for New York Governor and King Bullshit Andrew Cuomo. It's one thing to rake the muck; it's entirely something else to add to it.

It should surprise no one that an unabashed privatizer of public education like Carl Paladino has allowed B-LoEdScene to breach his skin. 

On the other hand, as also seen recently with this blog, it should appall everyone that yet another leader of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) seemingly has more in common with Carl Paladino than the First Amendment.

NYSUT's western New York director Mike Deely recently used Facebook to second Paladino's sentiments about Crowley, commenting:
"As long as your [sic] reading Bloedscene consider this: AFT, NYSUT, UFT and BTF fought and continues to fight corporate education reforms. Your enemy is not your union. Instead of conspiracy theories get involved." 
Though working teachers in Buffalo and across the state are in the cross hairs of receivership (i.e. we don't give a fuck what your contract says), Deely and NYSUT executive vice president Andy Pallotta think that if they say something often enough, people will believe it—even if it rings more hollow than a dead man's fart.

Bloggers who dare question the Union's obtuse political postures are divisive conspiracy theorists who should have their keyboards confiscated. With the possibility of dues soon becoming optional, the least Deely can do for members is identify what other "conspiracy theories" Crowley is spreading. Maybe Deely can compare notes with Paladino and release a joint statement.      

Those who rake the muck provide an essential service to democracy, so long as they don't underestimate the intelligence of their readers by spewing unproven pejoratives and platitudes, as our political leaders often do. The First Amendment is a tool to unearth the truth, which festers and fades in absence of this tool.  

And though in a 1906 speech called "The Man with the Muckrake" Roosevelt cautioned about being drawn too deeply into the muck, his words ring louder today than ever before: