Thursday, April 23, 2015

Merryl Draws a Line in the Sand

Merryl Tisch, who maybe taught in a religious school sometime, or something, is more or less in charge of education for our state. This is particularly true since Reformy John King got promoted and is now spreading reforminess for the whole country. Ms. Tisch supports Common Core wholeheartedly, and toured the state with Reformy John to pretend to listen to public school parents and teachers. Of course, she didn't, because they are special interests.

Tisch opposes opt-out, because tests are part of life. It doesn't matter whether the tests cover what kids learned, and it doesn't matter if neither teachers nor students know what's on the tests. It doesn't matter that teachers are sworn to secrecy about the contents of the tests and risk their jobs if they breathe a word to anyone. It doesn't matter that the tests are never returned to the students and they never find out what they get wrong or learn how they can get it right. It doesn't matter that they set cut scores after the tests are returned to produce whatever results they damn please.

However, when the feds talk about taking money away from NY State, Tisch gets serious.
“I would say to everyone who wants to punish the school districts: hold them to standards, set high expectations, hold them accountable, but punishing them? Really, are you kidding me?” said Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch.

While Tisch may know little or nothing about public education, she certainly knows about money. For one thing, she's got a whole lot of it. She's been around money all her life. When there's no money to hire help for the Regents, she hired some, and as they aren't state employees they aren't subject to all those nasty regulations about ethics and stuff. And why should they be? They're only making decisions for millions of public school children, and Tisch wouldn't place her own kids in a public school on a bet. Just not done in her circles. Our circles are the ones on standardized tests for our kids, not hers or Andrew Cuomo's or John King's.

Of course, Merryl Tisch may appear to be standing up for our kids in defending funds. That is likely her motivation for opposing financial disincentives. Tisch has seen the passion that fuels public school parents who stand up for their children, and may well be wary of further invoking or intensifying their already considerable wrath. If she is behind blocking funding to our kids, there are likely torches and pitchforks headed for her castle. If, on the other hand, she makes Arne Duncan the villain, she can not only pass the buck but also feign outrage. It's a reformy win-win.

It's unfortunate that our ostensible representative, the one none of us got to vote for or against, values appearances so much and public education so little. How did we get into a situation where people who know little or nothing about what we do have so much influence? How is it that we don't voice opposition to elected officials until after they're elected? How is it that we don't oppose anti-teacher, anti-public education bills until after we thank people for passing them?

Sometimes I think Merryl Tisch is exactly what we deserve. Please tell me I'm wrong.
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