Monday, January 26, 2015

Corrected--The State of the State: When You Fail Your Bar Exam Four Times, It's Time to Raise the Bar!

I learned Governor Andrew Cuomo failed his bar exam four times.  His war against NY State's teachers has finally been put into context for me.  Whereas I once thought his words reeked of harmful stupidity, now I feel the boy that is still in the man.  Because I feel his pain, I can understand his philosophy.

1.  It is time to blame the teachers.

If Cuomo failed four times, it surely can't be his own fault.  How could anyone as successful as the Governor accept the fact that he lacks merit?  It can't be that he failed to study enough.  It can't be that he lacks natural brilliance.  It can't be that he relied too much upon his family name.  It must be his teachers, doctors of jurisprudence, no less.  Even if others from his class managed to pass, shame on his teachers!

2.  Test prep is sacred.

If only Governor Cuomo had been lucky enough to have a teacher who cared enough to prep him to perfection.  Then, he would not have had to suffer this embarrassment and set back four times in his young life.  Incompetent teachers confused him with a broad range of concepts, many of which never appeared on the exam.  All they needed to do was align him to a good review book. They should have called in Professor Pearson.  Perhaps, you don't even need a living and breathing professor.  Why not use online computer-generated, test-prep models?

3.  At least 50% of teacher worth must be measured by student test scores.

If only tests had figured so heavily in his day in his teacher's sense of self, he might have passed--or at the very least taken quite a few teachers down with him, again and again and again and again.

4.  This never would have happened with the equivalent of a Success Academy.

If regular law schools cannot propel the likes of Cuomo to exam success, then let private competitors step into to focus on test prep and do the job right.  Apparently, New York Law School has hired "commercial bar review courses" to increase the passing rates of its students.  Why couldn't Cuomo's Albany Law School have done as much?  Oh, the inhumanity of it all!  

5.  Close schools with failing students

Nobody cared enough to close Albany Law School when Cuomo failed more than three times.  Albany Law School should have been dismantled brick by brick.  Out of the rubble, a "turn-around expert" could have risen to work a miracle.  No one need have ever failed another bar exam.  Let Cuomo not have suffered in vain.   

6.  Award merit pay to test-prep mavens.

Anyone who could have helped the likes of Cuomo pass his bar exam on the first try, or a student his high-stakes Core exam, surely deserves an extra big bonus to the tune of a least $20,000.

7.  Student passing rates on killer Common-Core tests must correspond perfectly to teacher retention rates.

For every student who fails, a teacher must be held accountable.  If 38% fail new Common-Core tests meant to wear down the hardiest of test takers, then don't even speak to me about 98% of NY's teachers being effective.  Are you daft?  Do your math?  Are you so poor at it that you don't see that sixty-two percent of teachers must be removed?  I bet you're also one of those who failed that "twelfth-grade literacy" entrance "bar exam," referenced by Cuomo!  

Do you now sense the bittersweet use of the term "bar exam" in Cuomo's speech?  Who would not feel for Cuomo, has no heart.  There is still a young man inside him who relives the bitterness of his four-time battle with the bar exam--when no teacher stepped up to prep him through the darkness.  

If you have a strong constitution, reread his State of the State, and where you see the words "young people" or "child," substitute the name of "The Young Andrew Cuomo" and you, too, will feel the pain of the young man that still lives on and places him in the peculiar position of being able to feel the plight of young people more strongly than most.  

See if you don't agree with me.  In the underlined portions of his speech below, I've changed Cuomo's original words: 

"It was about helping The Young Andrew Cuomo. It was not about creating an educational industry that then supports ancillary organizations. Let’s remember the The Young Andrew Cuomo in this process and then we’ll wind up doing the right thing."

Just remember though, if you become teary eyed, at least Cuomo never had to suffer on account of being poor or a minority like so many of our students!

Correction--Our source for the statement Cuomo failed the test four times has withdrawn that assertion. 
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