Archives For Education Reform
To the Public School Families and Educators of New York-
I would like to thank the many of you who have gone way out of their way to stand up for our schools, for their children’s educators, and for public education in New York. Governor Cuomo’s attacks have galvanized parents , students, and educators across the state, and have united in us in solidarity to protect our schools. So many of you have volunteered your time, attended rallies, spoken with your friends in person and through social media, signed letters and petitions, contacted elected officials, opted your children out of the state tests, and otherwise demonstrated your resistance to the data-obsessed, privatization-oriented corporate “school reform” agenda typified by Cuomo’s budget proposals.
I must make clear, though, that this is no time to declare victory or let up on the pressure; the budget that passed is a brutal one for public education in NY, different from Cuomo’s original proposals in only minor and cosmetic ways, though the Times and our the deeply compromised UFT leadership suggest otherwise. The funding secured, though it represents an increase, STILL does not satisfy the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. The teacher evaluation system, though technically kicked down the road a bit to high stakes testing advocate Meryl Tisch and other like-minded bureaucrats at the State education department, is already pretty well established at this point, and it is everything we feared as far as escalating the testing regime, disempowering and demeaning educators (including principals), and almost certainly exacerbating the looming teacher shortage. Raising the charter cap (some would say the true heart of Cuomo’s proposals because charters are the main interest of his most ardent financial backers, hedge fund managers) has also been delayed for a few months, another fight soon to come. The Assembly Democrats who we thought had our backs threw us under the bus.
That is not to say that we shouldn’t take stock and appreciate how far we have come; we have mobilized in a way that is unprecedented, with staff, parents, and students uniting to stand up for the kids and for public education in solidarity across the state in the face of a concerted divide-and-conquer strategy (now being further utilized to attempt to placate parents in wealthy districts where opt-out rates and other forms of parental resistance are high). But we cannot allow ourselves to think that we have won and sink into complacency; the enemies of public education have struck a significant blow here, and though the changes will not be visible in the halls of our schools immediately, it will not take long before we see the effects, among the most visible of which is likely to be the high teacher turnover which is so harmful to a school, whether caused by getting fired for having the wrong kind of students or simply becoming demoralized by being made scapegoats for society’s ills. If we truly believe that the children and educators of New York are more than a score, this must be only the beginning of our resistance to Cuomo’s depredations.
Technology Coordinator/UFT Chapter Leader
PS 58, The Carroll School
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE-UFT) voted unanimously at our last General Body meeting to propose that the United Federation of Teachers, instead of sitting out this gubernatorial race, endorse the pro-public education platform presented by Howie Hawkins for Governor and Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor.
MORE prepared to present a resolution at Wednesday’s Delegate Assembly. The UFT leadership, however, did not allow this discussion. Despite being informed in advance that MORE chapter leaders and delegates intended to raise this resolution for debate and voting, UFT leadership called time on the ten-minute new motion period, thus prohibiting this conversation. In fact, though Michael Mulgrew’s President’s Report was longer than 45 minutes, there was no mention of this Governor’s race.
Though UFT and NYSUT leadership remain silent regarding the upcoming Gubernatorial race, we pledge go to the polls and vote for the only public school positive, teacher-and-student friendly candidates in this race. We encourage fellow friends of public education to join us in voting Hawkins/Jones!
Why? Here are just a few of the many reasons:
- Both Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino vocally support the privatization of education through the expansion of charter schools. In contrast, the Green Party ticket of Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones opposes charter schools.
- Andrew Cuomo has pushed through an expansion of testing statewide and the punitive linking of test scores to teacher evaluations. The Hawkins/Jones ticket opposes an emphasis on high stakes testing.
- Andrew Cuomo implemented a destructive tax cap that has forced massive layoffs of teachers in upstate districts.
- New York State AFL-CIO and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have declined to endorse Cuomo because of his anti-education policies.
- Many of our Union and Education Allies have endorsed the Hawkins/Jones Ticket, including: The Buffalo Teachers Federation, Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, East Williston Teachers Association, Lakeland Federation of Teachers, Diane Ravitch, the Coalition for Public Education, the Independent Commission on Public Education and three local NYC Democratic clubs.
- Astorino and Cuomo are both millionaires while Hawkins and Jones are both union activists, Hawkins in Teamsters, Jones in the UFT and PSC.
- The Hawkins/Jones platform of a Green New Deal calls for
- equitable funding for all of our schools,
- reduced class sizes across the state,
- support for programs that promote desegregation in our schools,
- an end to zero-tolerance discipline policies driving the school-to-prison pipeline,
- and allowing schools to develop methods of assessment organic to the learning process.
- To learn more, Read their letter to teachers here, and spread the word using the voter guide below.
|MORE/UFT Caucus Pro-Education Positions||Hawkins/ Jones (Green)||Cuomo(Dem.)||Astorino(Rep.)|
|Against the Expansion of Charter Schools||✓|
|Against High Stakes Testing, Against APPR (New teacher evals) / Supports Parents & Students’ Right to Opt Out of High Stakes Tests||✓||✓|
|Against Common Core?||✓||✓|
|Union member or Millionaire Candidates?||Union||Millionaire||Millionaire|
|Fight corporate ed deform by rescinding NY’s Race to the Top application and replacing NYSED commissioner John King||✓||✓|
|Tax Top 5% and Eliminate State Property Tax Cap to Fund Schools||✓|
|Supports unionism, social movements and a $15/hr minimum wage||✓|
Don’t sit this election out, vote for a real change in Education Policy! Vote Hawkins/Jones!
Michael Fiorillo is a teacher, MORE member and former Chapter Leader at Newcomers High School in Queens
The Corporate Reformer’s Game Plan
- Proclaim austerity for the public schools, while continuing to expand charters
- Create incentives for non-educators to be in positions of power, from Assistant Principal on up
- Maintain a climate of scapegoating and witch hunting for “bad teachers,” who are posited as the cause of poverty and student failure, doing everything possible to keep debate from addressing systemic inequities
- Neutralize and eventually eliminate teacher unions (the first part largely accomplished in the case of the AFT). As part of that process, eliminate tenure, seniority and defined benefit pensions
- Create and maintain a climate of constant disruption and destabilization, with cascading mandates that are impossible to keep up or comply with
Watch the video for a sneak peek of the rally and march in front of NYC City Hall to defend public education from destructive, profit-driven corporate “reform”. Endorsed by 30+ parent, teacher, and student groups, including MORE. Featuring some great speakers, including a message from Diane Ravitch!