Monday, April 15, 2013

The Man Behind the NY Parents Revolt-Governor Andrew Cuomo

To the shock of many people, New York State has become the center of a large and growing parent's revolt against excessive testing. Thousands of children around the state will be Opting Out of state tests this week, even though the New York State Department of Education has insisted such actions are illegal and could have severe consequences for the parents and families who participate and for schools where students refuse the tests.

This revolt is not only due to sheer amount of testing taking place - six straight days of tests, 90 minutes a day for third graders- along with the high stakes attached to them, it also stems from the contemptuous attitude the State Education Commissioner John King has taken towards parents, teachers, and principals who question the usefulness of so much testing.

But let's not kid ourselves, the bullying of families, children and teachers by the State Education Department is a direct extension of the personality of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who rammed a teacher evaluation protocol through the State Legislature that the best principals in the State warned would lead to an orgy of testing and fill school communities with stress.

But our Governor, who was elected in a landslide, sends his own kids to private schools, and has Presidential aspirations which he hopes the billionaires behind
School Reform will support, thought he could dictate education policies which would l keep federal dollars flowing, and write off any opposition from teachers and parents as self-interested whining..

What he didn't count on was that the proliferation of tests his policies required would enrage parents around the state, most of them in communities where the public schools were functioning well, whose children were coming home in tears because test prep had taken over the school curriculum and made their school experience oppressive and boring. In such communities, the new tests and teacher evaluations, introduced with great suddenness as a result if legislation passed in the dead of night had the character of an Alien Invasion or the actions of a Totalitarian Regime.Schools filled with art and music and science and school trips, where teachers loved the children and loved their jobs-- and which parents paid high taxes to fund- were suddenly becoming zones of stress and fear as a result of unilateral actions by the State Government There was no discussion and no appeal. It was the state's way or the highway.

Given the intellect, education, and experience of many of the parents appalled by these policies, the Governor's dictatorial approach was bound to backfire. And it has. You now have a full fledged test revolt in many of the State's highest performing schools districts. And as for Governor Cuumo's Presidential aspirations, they may be disappearing as fast as the incorrect answers rubbed out by Michelle Rhee's eraser when she was Chancellor of DC's public schools

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