"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, January 05, 2015


The real crisis in NYS education is equity.
I recently had a conversation with a few friends about why I disliked both TFA and Common Core. They had seen my interview on Al Jazeera America regarding TFA and had read some my posts reading Common Core.
I gave them the elevator speech about how TFA has done more harm than good to students and schools across the nation, then I explained how there is a difference between quality syllabi and standards created by teachers and curriculum developers   who work directly with kids and the CCSS created by college professors and David Coleman’s cronies. I told them about the high quality K-12 syllabi NYS had for decades that set the standard for standards for other states.
One of the people I was with responded by saying, “Well, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have Mississippi, with the lowest set of standards be brought up to NYS’s level?” I told him about how, with all good intentions that is how the national standards drive got started with people like our own Diane Ravitch and others supporting them. Then of course I had to tell him how that idealistic idea was “capitalized” upon by others and usurped by political and business agendas.
They were shocked. These are intelligent and knowledgable “liberals” with no understanding beyond what they read in the NY Times (for example).
But what has NYS now have in common with Mississippi? Not standards, but inequity!
So when the NY Times editorial page (1/5/15) says, “The Central Crisis in New York Education” is inequity, and NOT teacher evaluations, as Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Tisch argue, perhaps a large group of potential supporters for what really needs to change in education may surface.
These inequalities are compounded by the fact that New York State, which regards itself as a bastion of liberalism, has the most racially and economically segregated schools in the nation. A scathing 2014 study of this problem by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, charged that New York had essentially given up on this problem. It said, ‘The children who most depend on the public schools for any chance in life are concentrated in schools struggling with all the dimensions of family and neighborhood poverty and isolation.’
OOMMPH, There it is!
Now what will the NYS Governor and Legislature do about it? Will they finally do what the courts demanded they do 9 years ago?
These shameful inequities were fully brought to light in 2006, when the state’s highest court ruled in Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York that the state had not met its constitutional responsibility to ensure adequate school funding and in particular had shortchanged New York City.
Will they at least try to follow up?
A year later, the Legislature and Gov. Eliot Spitzer adopted a new formula that promised more help for poor districts and eventually $7 billion per year in added funding.
Will they respond to other lawsuits  and Union pressure that followed up on these inequities?
A lawsuit by a group called New Yorkers for Students’ Educational Rights estimates that, despite increases in recent years, the state is still about $5.6 billion a year short of its commitment under that formula.”
A second lawsuit was filed on behalf of students in several small cities in the state, including Jamestown, Port Jervis, Mount Vernon and Newburgh. It says that per pupil funding in the cities, which have an average 72 percent student poverty rate, is $2,500 to $6,300 less than called for in the 2007 formula, making it impossible to provide the instruction other services needed to meet the State Constitution’s definition of a “sound basic education.”
These communities and others like them are further disadvantaged by having low property values and by a statewide cap enacted in 2011 that limits what money they are able to raise through property taxes. And last year the New York State United Teachers union said that the cap had been particularly harmful to poorer districts.
Apparently even the NY Times now sees what educators, the courts, small city leaders, and the Unions have known for years concerning the real crisis in NYS education.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s forthcoming State of the State address is expected to focus on what can be done to improve public education across the state. If he is serious about the issue, he will have to move beyond peripheral concerns and political score-settling with the state teachers’ union, which did not support his re-election, and go to the heart of the matter. And that means confronting and proposing remedies for the racial and economic segregation that has gripped the state’s schools, as well as the inequality in school funding that prevents many poor districts from lifting their children up to state standards.
The Cuomo administration seemed not to acknowledge these issues in a letter last month to the chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents and the commissioner of education in which it promised “an aggressive legislative package” to improve education in the state. Among the dozen issues it said it wanted to address were strengthening the teacher evaluation system, improving the process for removing low-performing teachers and improving teacher training.
So, Here is my proposal to Governor Cuomo, Chancellor Tisch, and  the members of the NYS legislature. Let educators work on syllabi and evaluation. We know that best.
Hey, If you are curious read what many of us have written. I’ll toss in a free copy of my book, Doing The Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks. I gave one to all the other candidates for Governor.

Let us do our thing, and focus on yours. End the inequity!

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