Sunday, May 10, 2020

Andrew Cuomo's Remote Control

Andrew Cuomo, in his zeal to approach this crisis in the very worst way possible, has enlisted the assistance of Bill Gates, I'm sure you remember Bill Gates. He's the man behind value-added rating, and the push to enable it for teachers. There is a whole lot of potential here. For what, I dread to even imagine (let alone "reimagine").

You may be reminded of Bill Gates every time a Boy Wonder supervisor barges into your classroom with an iPad to tick off checks on a Danielson list while you do the actual work. Think of him every time you encounter an ATR, because school closings were his signature innovation. Think of him every time you meet someone stuck working for a charter, because he pushed that too.

Now, to "reimagine" school, Gates and Cuomo have established a committee with absolutely no working teachers, no parents, and not even a current supervisor from NYC. They did, however, include Dennis Walcott. Aside from towing the Bloomberg line, Walcott's most notable achievement as chancellor entailed making waffles. While it's nice to see that billionaire Bloomberg is represented on the committee, it's a little disappointing to see no working city teacher.

They do, however, have one teacher who is a "Gates master teacher." I don't know exactly what that means, but I suppose if we have someone doing what Gates advocates, you can be assured that Bloomberg isn't the only billionaire represented on the committee. There's also a teacher from the William Floyd school district. There are 8,876 students in that district, about double the number in my school alone, but you have to admit William Floyd is well-represented. NYC has a mere 1.1 million students, so who cares about them? I can only conclude the sandbox fight between Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio is more important than representation of the largest district in not only the state, but the country.

Cuomo has walked back his original comments about school buildings being outdated, but is nonetheless running with this nonsense. Given his history on education in particular, it's hard to imagine Cuomo being sincere about anything. There was a lot of pushback against the idiotic notion that remote learning could substitute for the real thing, and Cuomo's MO is one of swaying whichever way the wind blows. There's not much there in the way of a moral center.

I have very little faith in Cuomo's committee or its conclusions. A mere 10% of the committee are teachers, the people who will actually have to do the work. While one of them is a Gates "master teacher," (appointed by an organization founded by teachers for teachers, which has exactly zero teachers in its leadership)  they're both NY State master teachers. Despite the below description, I have very little idea what that entails. I recall one of the most irresponsible people I've ever known referring to himself as a "master teacher," so it's somewhat encouraging that the state determines it rather than the teachers themselves. Evidently these are STEM teachers and they serve on committees.

The Master Teachers hold leadership roles in New York State STEM professional associations, and lead professional development workshops for regional and statewide educator conferences. Many of the 228 Master Teachers have received awards and public recognition for their teaching from their peers, local communities, or professional associations. 

I can only conclude the rest of us all suck. I, for example, fritter away my time teaching beginning English language learners and representing the members of the largest school in Queens, the most overcrowded in the city. Unlike the 52 NYC teachers who made the "master teacher" cut, I've failed to associate with Math for America. Therefore, it serves me right to have no voice on this committee. (I guess the M4A NYC teachers all suck too, or one of them might have made it to the committee.)

Does anyone think this committee will come up with things that are helpful to those of us on the ground doing the work? Does anyone believe Dennis Walcott has the interests of NYC children at heart? Does anyone believe that's Cuomo's intent in creating the committee?

Please let me know if you do, because I have a virtual bridge in Brooklyn that I'm eager to sell.
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