The responses to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent claim that he was going to be a lobbyist for public school students because no one else was reminded me of the old television game show, “What’s My Line?” wherein a celebrity panel got to quiz three contestants and then guess which one actually performed the job they all said they performed. In the aftermath of Cuomo's State of the State address, lots folks came clamoring with their student lobbyist creds. “A-hem,” wrote commenter SLBYRNES on BuffaloNews.Com:
Apparently, the Governor hasn't noticed the work of Citizen Action and the Alliance for Quality Education on behalf of children and the community's schools for well over a decade. Or the District Parent Coordinating Councils, PTAs, etc…. Part of the reason we struggle so hard for school improvement may be that he hasn't "heard" clearly or loudly enough about, or from, us. See you next week, Sir. Oh, and we'll be looking for that 4% and the CFE [Campaign for Education Equity] funding we fought for 12 years, were awarded, and the state reneged on...just saying.
Money seemed to be a theme of many of the protestors, but one of my favorites was the video retort, which you can watch below, from the president of the New York State School Board Association (NYSSBA), Tim Kremer, who was almost as strident as Cuomo:
Well, I have to respectfully disagree, governor. School board members are lobbyists for students. School board members are
Having proved himself the “steamroller” governor that his defrocked predecessor Eliot Spitzer had promised to be, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo strode into a packed Empire State Plaza auditorium in Albany on Wednesday for his second State of the State address to rousing applause and, perhaps taking a page from Fordham’s Rethinking Education Governance initiative (which Board's Eye View will be doing a lot of thinking about), proposed a “reimagining” of state government that was credible.
His hour-long speech may have been short on specifics, but it was long on principals that promise to make a difference and masterful in its rhetorical and political flourishes. Much of the applause came from a state legislature that the gifted politician – who grew up in politics and was a senior aide to his popular two-term governor father, Mario, before he turned 30 – rescued from laughingstock status – he got the dysfunctional body to close a $10 billion budget gap and deliver it on time, pass a same-sex marriage law, and new ethics laws, and in the process earned a national reputation and whispers about a 2016 presidential bid. In a wonderful flourish, showing his command of the stage, Cuomo had the State Senate and Assembly stand to receive public congratulations. Who wudda thunkit?
So, with last year’s track record firmly in hand and with few doubts about Cuomo’s ability to make things happen, the education part of his talk garnered much attention, even before the speech. And he didn’t disappoint, promising to make public education “the priority mission for this
Amidst lots of recent drama about teacher evaluations (e.g. New York’s Commissioner of Education has withheld funds to nearly a dozen school districts (including more than 30 high need schools in New York City) that didn’t complete their teacher evaluation agreements with the local teacher unions, TFA founder Wendy Kopp and NEA president Dennis Van Roekel joining hands in a USA Today essay (an essay that has befuddled Diane Ravitch), the Connecticut Education Association releasing a teacher evaluation reform package, New York state’s largest teacher union unveiling a 95-page Teacher Evaluation and Development Handbook, and news from New Jersey that teacher tenure may be ended in the Garden State this year) came a wonderful report by Sam Dillon in the New York Times: In Washington Large Rewards In Teacher Pay.
Dillon explains how D.C.’s much watched Impact Plus teacher evaluation system (introduced by Michelle Rhee in 2009, but as a collaboration with the Washington Teachers Union) is working. “We want to make great teachers rich,” the district’s chief of human capital, Jason Kamras, tells Dillon.
And, in fact, Dillon offers some brief
Welcome to Board’s Eye View. The blog name comes from my location at ground zero of educational governance: member of the board of education. Though I know that some see such boards as a shredded remnant of the 19th century, they remain, 14,000-plus strong, the default governance clutch of the 21st century American public school engine. Love ‘em or leave ‘em—they are in the driver’s seat. Endangered species or albatross, to change metaphors, school boards pose the central question for America’s education future: Do “the people” dictate education policy? And if so, how?
I first ran for school board in the late 1990s. It was a treat, since I had not run for anything since high school. Some of the old political instincts returned and I won. But I soon learned that it was more like high school than anything I’d seen in the adult world and I resigned after just six months, head spinning. (I recounted my experience for Education Next, (called “A Board’s Eye View”) in 2005.)
Seven years later, when I noticed that there were no official candidates on the school board election ballot—a new low in our little district’s slide to dysfunction—I decided that I had a chance to make amends for my quitting ways and mounted a stealth email campaign: I won again, with 92 write-in votes, a shock to a board that had not moved the achievement needle at all and with whom I had continued to battle—from the audience at board meetings, in the letters column of the local newspaper,
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About the Editor
Peter Meyer is an adjunct fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Since 1991, Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next.
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