Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Response to Governor's Celebratory Test-Monster Announcement

Re: Governor Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Detail Agreement Guaranteeing All Schools Implement Permanent Teacher Evaluation Systems

Governor Cuomo and any legislative leaders aligned in this aggressive and short-sighted agenda:

Please help me understand the intent of your legislative agenda by answering a few questions. From your recent announcement regarding permanent teacher evaluation systems:

“This agreement is a reasonable compromise that builds on the legislation we passed to enhance accountability in schools and give our students the first-class education they deserve. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to do more to improve education and help our kids compete and succeed.” (Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos...Christ, how do you fit THAT on a silk pocket hanky???)

Compete with who? Succeed at what? In what ways are kids falling short in what competition? In what ways are kids failing to succeed? Have you investigated successful models around the world where students and societies appear to enjoy relative success and quality of life? Is it pressure, scrutiny and teacher evaluation by standardized test results that makes those successes possible and make you so willing to impose such a system on schools here?

"By doing so, we will prevent future cuts to education funding and ensure that every teacher is held to a fair and meaningful standard of excellence."

"Fair", "meaningful" and "excellence" are up for debate. Transforming public schools into testing factories and children's personal data over to Rupert Murdoch owned data warehouses could have other vocabulary in its description.

"Last year, Governor Cuomo established a new statewide evaluation system that is one of the strongest in the country. The system is based on multiple measures of performance including student achievement and rigorous classroom observations. The Governor signed a law last year requiring all school districts to implement an evaluation system based on the statewide system approved by the State Education Department or risk losing their increase in education aid—resulting in 99 percent compliance (687 out of 691 school districts implemented a system)."

"Today’s law will ensure one hundred percent compliance and will help improve education all across New York."

One hundred percent? Including charters/academies/magnet schools? Will all students attend fully public schools with equitable resources? Because charter schools do not have to play by these rules and not all school districts receive the resources they need to provide students what they need. I don't agree with this game of semantics, hidden agendas, changing rules and pushing legislation that sacrifices the already disadvantaged to your political aspirations and lobbied for gains to private interests.

Does your system of multiple measures accurately include family, cohort, unfunded mandates or services cut in the NY ed-funding game (where crumbs are passed out, tax caps are pushed, and funds saved up by fiscally responsible schools are locked down until districts dance and beg)?

How intuitive is Rupert Murdoch, Pearson, a computer program, a bubble sheet...when it comes to the very poorest children from some of the strangest home situations? Can a #2 pencil do what I do or reveal some of the more important things I have to do every day because of gutted budgets and refusals to consider potential revenues? Shared sacrifice?

Gov. Cuomo, please first measure the sacrifices against each other, measure the real hand-to-mouth impacts-especially the pressure of scrutiny and the oppression of inequity, and THEN tell me tests should be celebrated.  

Thanks to @BetsyS48 for helping tighten this up a bit.

I need to get this off my plate because every minute I become more aware of how willing our leaders are to make us pick up the soap in the communal shower for profiteers and "ed reform" folks who would not themselves bear the scrutiny of logic, practice and accountability.

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