Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dueling Special Interests--Public Schoolchildren v. Andrew M. Cuomo

One of the most encouraging things, for me, at the recent Bayside forum to discuss Governor Cuomo, was that some of his minions were out distributing pamphlets defending his crappy programs. This means they are worried about us.

They're clearly pulling from the bottom of the barrel, which I suppose is the only way to go when defending the indefensible. Andrew Cuomo takes millions of dollars from hedgefunders and their ilk, battles to make sure they don't pay taxes to support our state, and finds the audacity to label public school parents and teachers special interests.

What's really sad is that, if people don't examine his claims, or if they read the op-eds, they may think he's right. They may believe that Andrew Cuomo, who enables the crushing Gap Elimination Adjustment that deprives most kids of substantial state aid, who concurrently makes it almost impossible for localities to raise taxes to compensate for it, is the student lobbyist he portrays himself.

First of all, Governor Cuomo boasts of "historic funding" for all schools. he offers 1.1 billion in aid if we get behind his voodoo. But as a result of the CFE lawsuit, he now owes us 5.6 billion. He's throwing us scraps and demanding not only compliance, but also gratitude. 

Governor Cuomo speaks of "better pay for our best teachers." Merit pay has been around the United States since 1920, and in England since 1865. It has never worked anywhere. That doesn't dissuade the governor, on marching orders from his hedge fund/ charter school pals.

He speaks of "fair teacher evaluations," but they're based 50% on test scores. Studies show teachers affect test scores by a factor of 1 to 14%. But no studies for Andy Cuomo. He's busy marching with Eva Moskowitz, who pays herself half a million dollars a year of NYC tax dollars. She is not a "special interest," because her BFFs have given Andrew Cuomo 1.6 million dollars. Anyone who hasn't donated is a special interest, and thus should be disregarded. VAM is junk science, yet another program Bill Gates pulled out of his ample ass and imposed on the entire country.

Cuomo boasts of job protection for our best teachers. Actually, what he means is he will deny due process to teachers who don't score "effective" five years in a row via Gates-imposed junk science. As far as I know, all he's doing is placing obstacles to tenure in front of already overwhelmed new teachers.

His next bullet point speaks of "fair due process," which is, in fact, the same thing as tenure. Cuomo speaks of teachers involved in "crime involving sexual or physical abuse." Governor Cuomo is perhaps unaware that criminals are subject to prosecution, and often wind up in prison. I'm not at all certain whether having tenure helps you out in a place like that, but apparently Govenor Cuomo thinks it does. I'm pretty sure you lose your job when you're sent to prison, but Governor Andy can't be bothered dealing with such trivialities.

Finally, the governor claims he will give support for our struggling schools. The way he proposes to do that is by placing them under receivership. State takeovers of schools have not worked here in Roosevelt NY or in Newark NJ, but since history means nothing to Andrew Cuomo, he's not bothering with it. Schools are the beating hearts of neighborhoods, but Governor Andy would happily rip them out and hand them to self-serving demagogues like Eva Moskowitz.

When Sandy hit my community we gathered at our high school. Though our homes were in shambles, this was our place. We didn't have to ask Eva's permission to get together there. We, the community, ran the school and ought to continue to do so. It ought not to be for sale to those who contributed most to Andrew Cuomo's most recent campaign. 

Does Eva take kids like those I serve, who arrived from Egypt, El Salvador, China, Korea, and Colombia yesterday? Does she take the alternate assessment students my school serves, the ones who will never get a Regents diploma, the ones we teach to deal with jobs they may get when they leave us, the ones whose stats count against us? Hard to know. Although charters will boast they take this or that percentage of ELLs or special ed. students, a source reports they fail to let us know what level these kids are, and routinely ignore FOI requests to fill us in.

Cuomo's right about one thing. We, the public school teachers and parents are indeed a special interest. Our special interest is the children of New York. But Governor Cuomo is also a special interest. His special interest, and clearly his only interest, is the advancement of Andrew M. Cuomo.

Which side does NY want to take? Time will tell.
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