Way back in July, before Dr. Rella became a celebrity, before we called for John King’s firing, and before we rallied for public ed, we announced a new series of posts that we would be writing this year. That series would be broken into two parts. One part titled “Know Your Friends” (KYF) and one titled “Know Your Enemies” (KYE). The first post of the series was a “Know Your Friends” detailing a dear friend of public education, Diane Ravitch. Today we pull back the curtain on our first “Know Your Enemies” post.
Our first KYE post is a special two for one edition featuring two of our most local politicians, New York State Senators John J. Flanagan and Ken LaValle. Each of these state senators represent parts of the Comsewogue School District. Each of these politicians received one of Dr. Rella’s letters regarding the scores of the NYS Common Core tests. Each of these senators could not be bothered to show up to the rally because they do not support the will of their constituents and the rally message “Students, Not Scores”.
We will discuss LaValle first. He issued this statement the day before Saturday’s #SNSRally. There are a few problems with this statement…
I met with those parents, listened to their concerns, and also met with representatives of the State’s Education Department.
He chose not to meet with any actual teachers who, you know, proctored the exams and teach the content the students are responsible for?! Surely those reps from NYSED included the reformy John King and others of his ilk… people who are selling NY State’s public education system to the highest bidder.
I agree that the implementation of the Common Core could have been better handled
Perhaps LaValle meant. “It could have been handled better. But we were really in a rush to get this system in place so that we can start firing teachers sooner rather than later. If it hurts the children in the process, so be it… I have a political agenda and I am not going to let common sense stand in the way of it!”
The bill also requires the Commissioner of the State Education Department to report, annually to the Legislature about: the effectiveness of Common Core state tests in enhancing student learning and performance
The commissioner already tells us that our Common-Core assessments are “very high quality”. I am just dying to hear his report to the legislature.
Senator LaValle, who also supported the tax cap that has crippled New York State schools, is a clear enemy of public education. He is from the 1st Senate District. He will likely run for re-election again next fall. Vote him out.
Now onto John J. Flanagan. Senator Flanagan, representing the 2nd Senate District, also chairs the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education. No wonder public education is a mess. He also was a recipient of Dr. Rella’s letter. While LaValle issued a cop-out statement, Flanagan didn’t even bother. Maybe he was busy basking in the glow of his “Pet Lemon Law“. He did contact Rella privately. You can read between the lines to figure out how that went.
Additionally, the PJSTA knows from it’s own personal experience that Senator John J. Flanagan is no friend of ours.
A little while back PJSTA President Beth Dimino went to Flanagan’s office with the rest of the Suffolk NYSUT contingency during a NYSUT Committee of 100 event. This was right after the Comsewogue cap budget failed to get 60%. During the meeting Dimino confronted Flanagan about the fact that he supported the tax cap. She told him that as a New York State Senator that represents Comsewogue and as the head of New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education that he was directly responsible for the fact that we would have to eliminate programs, have larger class sizes, lay off teachers and reconfigure our elementary schools, even though 59% of the voters didn’t want these things to happen. She was respectful in her presentation, though in typical Dimino fashion she was passionate and didn’t sugar coat anything. He was not pleased with what she had to say or the way that she spoke to him. At the end of the meeting Dimino went up to him and when he shook her hand she presented him with a gift. She gave him one of these pins…
Mrs. Dimino told him that the gift was a pin from Comsewogue and the PJSTA and that she hoped he would wear it. Flanagan was furious. He proceeded to complain about her to a NYSUT official and then he called a Comsewogue School District official. Flanagan told the NYSUT official what she said and demanded that Dimino needed speak to him in a more deferential tone in the future. He asked the district official to “get control of” Dimino. The individual told Flanagan that if he had actually knew Dimino he would know that no one was going to control her!
So please make sure that when speaking to
King Senator Flanagan you are deferential enough. He is after all an extremely important guy. He will even tell you so himself.
As the chairman of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education, Flanagan will be holding hearings throughout New York State in the coming months to review the impact and effectiveness of recent education reforms. Of course he could skip the hearings and just walk into any school and a teacher could tell him how destructive these education “reforms” have been. The first hearing is scheduled to be right here on Long Island. His office informed me that the hearing will take place during the second week in September and is by invite only. By waiting until the school year has started Flanagan has a built in excuse not to invite many real teachers to the hearing. That would be a disaster of course because then he wouldn’t get to hear what he wants to hear. Holding these hearings without real educators is akin to seeking medical advice from your dog. But we already know that public education is a rigged game and John J. Flanagan is making sure that he does everything he can to rig it in the favor billionaires, corporations, and potential big money donors.
Senator Flanagan, like Senator LaValle will likely be running for re-election again in 2014. He too is an enemy of public education. He too should be voted out.