The New York Badass Teachers Association is a diverse pro-public education organization of 2820 members, affiliated with the Badass Teachers Association, currently 54,913 strong nationwide.
NY BATs voices its strong disgust with the passing of Governor Cuomo’s education reforms. The YES votes in the Legislature have thrown New York State Education into years of chaos, re-empowering the same entities that created the current statewide APPR crisis, costing NY districts millions. This will be the fifth consecutive proposal to “fix” education in as many years without acknowledging the most obvious obstacles to learning in our communities such as underfunding of schools in impoverished areas.
At its most basic this is about abdicating local control—whether NYSED's professional accountability measures (bubble test scores) should trump the autonomy of democratically elected school officials, certified professionals, and locally negotiated contracts. Clearly, the purveyors of this budget are forging ahead without consideration of polls, petitions or protests returning us to question of whether Albany is serving the people or the hedge fund managers.
Governor Cuomo, in his quest to punish unions that did not endorse these unsound education policies, has put the children of New York State into the center of another storm. We are sad to see some members of the Assembly and the Senate plowing headlong into unchartered territory, invoking “emergency”procedures to prevent exactly the reading of the bills that is supposed to address contentious legal and scientific questions. Clearly, Albany worked overtime last night to avoid debate.
As significant percentages of NY families abandon mandated annual state tests, there can be no doubt, even for Common Core advocates that New York’s implementation was ill-conceived and shoddily carried out, failing to communicate any policy that earned the trust or confidence of stakeholders (don’t forget how school parents were haughtily called "special interest groups”).
APPR left principals and administrators to design and redesign APPR evaluation plans that forced math and English scores on teachers regardless of subject taught or license area. Then, they put scores through two different manipulations after-the-fact. Not only do they “adjust” the proficiency thresholds, they can at any time discard “test items” to make as many grades as NYSED wishes jump in “proficiency,” statewide, by the stroke of a pen.
“I am a mother, teacher, and taxpayer in New York and the Governor has used our children as a pawn in his political game”, said NY BAT Marla Kilfoyle. “When we examine the things they will not allow to be used in a teacher evaluation we see evidence of student development and performance derived from lesson plans, artifacts of teacher practice, and student portfolios; all things that show growth throughout the entire year and make up good pedagogical practice they want out of evaluation. This is madness.”
Jamy Brice Hyde, a NY BAT, proclaimed, “Teachers, Parents, and Administrators watched together as one by one politicians elected to serve our children instead chose to serve a vindictive bully serving his revenge upon the most critical profession to our democracy! New York State lost its way yesterday putting vengeance before our children! We have witnessed firsthand the destruction of New York State public education by ballots cast! Educators will protect the children of our state from this harmful legislation. We will fight every step of the way for our right to teach, to be treated with dignity and respect, to protect parents right to refuse toxic tests designed to punish teachers and harm our children. We will fight to the bitter end to save our schools and our children from this abuse and we will fight to restore our profession!”
“The budget was forced through just so it would be on time. Instead of working for the betterment of our schools, our students, and our communities the majority of our politicians proved they were only interested in playing politics,” said NY BAT Beth Glazer Schettino.
"Using math and ELA scores to evaluate teachers of gym, foreign language or the arts now for a second year is a ridiculous use of tax dollars. We need solutions in the inner city, not unproven metrics that tell us the obvious. But test scores can’t show us the work of a math or ELA teacher either—especially when the state is changing the cut scores to throw off any claim of impartial statistical accuracy. Schools are already in hiring crisis, the last thing we need is to worsen working conditions in high needs schools," claims NY BAT Jake Jacobs.
These proposals by Cuomo, which were approved by the Senate and the Assembly so that they could have an on-time budget, are demoralizing to children, teachers, and public education. Cuomo and members of the Legislature who voted YES to this proposal continue to ignore the voices of parents, teachers, students, and administrators. The Assembly and the Senate members who voted for this, rest assured, you will be voted out of office next election cycle. We look forward to the day when Albany once again serves the people and not hedge fund managers.
Image credit: PS 321 PTA