Yesterday was Senator Flanagan’s first scheduled hearing on New York State’s Reform Agenda. I didn’t have the ability to be there as I was teaching, however I did have the good fortune of hearing about it from people who were there.
To summarize, the meeting began with Senator Flanagan showing up late. When you are as important as John J. Flanagan you can make people wait… and then make sure they use a deferential tone when addressing you. Senator Flanagan, who represents parts of the Comsewogue School District, then allowed one of his pal John King’s minions to pontificate about how wonderful the reforms are working in New York State. After that representative from NYSED took so much time to present, the other individuals invited to testify were told there wasn’t time for them to provide their entire testimony and that they should essentially try to summarize it.
The remaining invitees consisted of administrators, school board members, some parents, and one teacher. But really, who wants to hear from teachers?! Across the board the testimony lambasted the reforms. Jeanette Deutermann, a parent leader from the Long Island Opt-Out group seemed to give the most impassioned plea against the reforms, citing their impact on her children.
James Gounaris, Board of Education President of the Herricks School District, talked about how incredible Herricks is and then threw other school districts under the bus saying, “The new state mandates while understandably necessary for New York City and continually low achieving school districts like Hempstead and Roosevelt actually prevent school districts like Herricks to continue its great work.” Right. Damaging reforms are bad for Herricks but they are fine for poor districts.
Senator Flanagan has three more scheduled hearings around the state (10/1 in Syracuse, 10/16 in Buffalo, and 10/29 in New York City).
Apparently some of the lawmakers in attendance expressed concern over the reforms and their implementation. It is absolutely crucial that we continue to let them know that their jobs will be on the line over this issue. It’s time to ratchet up the pressure on them. Let them know that they represent us. If we endure another year of catastrophic education policy in New York State, these state legislators should pay with their jobs next Election Day.