A Few Links on State of the State Day

Governor Cuomo, who yesterday said that public education, “Probably has been the single greatest failure in the state,” gives his state of the state address today at 1:30 pm.  I am sure there will be plenty of reaction afterward as Cuomo launches his plan to eviscerate public education.  While we wait for that a few links from the past few days…

  • Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen writes about Cuomo and Tisch’s plan to remove local control from districts and replace it with “state control.”  Via the Riverhead News-Review…

So, what does “state,” as opposed to “local,” control mean? First, as a result of previous legislative action, namely the 2 percent cap on tax levy increases, democracy is out the window because a minority of residents has more power than the majority when it comes to deciding how much money will be spent in a given district.

Now comes the chancellor’s suggestions that locally elected school boards should no longer have control over determining whether teachers and principals do a good job and that all teachers and principals who do not meet the state’s standard of successful teaching or supervising two years in a row must lose their jobs.

Chancellor Tisch suggests that the content all children must learn and the methods teachers must use to teach that content will be determined by the state, not local residents in accord with professional educators, acting through democratically elected school board members. She suggests that charter schools, over which local residents have little if any control, would be completely free to flourish (or not!) and to replace democratically run local schools.

These charters, it should be emphasized, do not have to serve all children the way local, democratic and free schools must. And, as we all know by now, the education department will use tests purchased from private companies as the principal tool to determine whether kids are thriving, and thus whether their teachers ought to remain in the classroom.

So the non-elected chancellor and the current governor believe local control of education has failed. The great experiment is dead. What will take its place is a technocratic process so complex that it is almost impossible for parents, residents and educators to understand — much less embrace.

This opaque and exceedingly cumbersome and expensive process will be orchestrated from Albany. Education department bureaucrats in charge of this new system have little useful knowledge of the institution they will operate.

Local school boards, residents and parents and the staffs hired by the school boards will no longer play a central role in educating the young. This radical change, sadly, rests more on the arrogant self-regard of the chancellor, the governor and their allies than it does on any realistic assessment of the problems facing children around the state.

Poor children, regardless of race, suffer the ill effects of an education system that fails them, and has failed them for generations. But replacing democratic, local control of education with state technocratic education being pushed by a group of wealthy, non-elected reformers whose plans to improve education make sense to few people other than themselves and their paid acolytes, and whose concrete proposals come largely from for-profit companies hungry to profit off public funds, is deeply anti-democratic, not to mention foolhardy. Ms. Tisch and Gov. Cuomo have lost faith in democracy.

They would rather rely on people whom they regard as smart and well-connected — whether or not they know anything about schooling — rather than on parents, residents, experienced educators, scholars and students. To them, education must be taken out of the hands of teachers, principals and superintendents chosen by parents and residents, and instead be entrusted to companies that know one thing very well: how to make profits.

1 Comments on “A Few Links on State of the State Day”

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