Mar 12th - 11:26 am
From the morning memo, ICYMI:
The dust has settled over the re-appointment of three out of four members to the Board of Regents.
Despite the angst over the re-appointments and the roll out of Common Core, lawmakers still are returning three members to the board. A fourth, James Jackson of Albany, dropped out of contention the night prior to the vote.
Now with the vote behind them, lawmakers will likely turn to the Common Core standards themselves — changes that could be wrapped up in the state budget negotiations.
As is often the case in Albany, the budget talks are the best chance for any piece of policy — even if isn’t necessarily tied to spending taxpayer dollars — to get accomplished.
In a Capital Tonight interview on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide Larry Schwartz said overhauling the implementation of the standards will be part of those budget talks.
“Why not? Why shouldn’t it be part of the budget? Why shouldn’t we let students in New York state and their parents know ASAP — as soon as possible — that we’re going to reduce the amount of testings for our kids. We’re going to make sure that these tests that are going to be given in April don’t count against our kids.”
Keep in mind, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chamber already approved — by a wide margin — a measure that would delay aspects of Common Core standards in classrooms for teacher evaluations and student assessment.
Silver told reporters after the Regents vote on Tuesday that the Common Core discussions “stand alone” from the budget talks.
The Senate, meanwhile, hasn’t shown much willingness to take that two-year delay bill up for now.
Instead, Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos said he doesn’t expect the standards to be discussed in negotiations.
As Schwartz mentioned, dealing with Common Core this month would cut off the next round of tests due in April.
There is a wild card factor here that could delay any state action and that’s the vote for the leadership at the New York State United Teachers Union, where the current president, Dick Ianuzzi, is facing a complex struggle for power from insurgents within the organization.
The vote is due in April as well.
Mar 11th - 5:00 pm
Lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate plan to address changes to the implementation of Common Core, but did not wholly embrace a slate of recommendations made by a panel in a report released on Monday.
Nevertheless, Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos expects the changes to the education curriculum to be made during the budget negotiations.
“We’re still studying that,” Skelos said. “But we’ve indicated that we want to see this report, I’m sure it will be discussed in the context of the budget. It has to be done in such a way that it’s fair to kids, it’s fair to the education community and that people understand exactly what Common Core is.”
After state lawmakers voted to re-appoint three out of the four Regents members at the state Department of Education, attention at the Capitol will turn toward engineering changes to the standards.
The Democratic-led Assembly approved a bill last week that would delay certain provisions of Common Core’s implementation over two years, including counting it toward student assessment and teacher evaluations.
The moratorium bill is yet to be taken up in the Senate.
“Look, we all agree that the implementation has been a problem and we’re going to work out whatever the differences there may be. We’re all looking at the same thing — looking to reach the same goal line,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said when asked about the recommendations released on Monday. “That is to prepare teachers, to prepare students which is looking to implement this Common Core.”
Silver added, “We’re now in the process in fixing that flawed implementation.”
He disagreed, however, that the changes would be included in the budget framework.
“I don’t think so, it stands on its own, basically,” Silver said.
Mar 11th - 3:38 pm
In the end, three of four incumbent Regents will remain on the board directing education policy for the state despite widespread angst in the Legislature over the implementation of Common Core.
Following Tuesday’s vote, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos knocked Democrats for supporting the re-appointment of the members.
“All I know is the Democrats today continued to vote for the status quo and are not listening to parents, they’re not listening to educators,” Skelos told reporters.
The vote on Tuesday was one of the more contentious Regents votes in recent memory, with Senate Republicans ending a long-standing boycott of the event to register what amounted to largely ceremonial no votes or abstentions.
A fourth Regent up for re-appointment, James Jackson, withdrew from consideration.
“It was more about showing they can continue to elect people than understanding the trauma that kids are facing,” Skelos said.
Skelos insisted the incumbents “should have been tossed, fired” based on the Common Core implementation.
The Long Island Republican added there should be a change to the process of appointing regents that would give the Senate more say in the process.
Despite the votes to re-confirm, several Senate Democrats voted against re-appointment, including Sens. Geroge Latimer, Cecilia Tkaczyk and Terry Gipson.
And though some Senate Democrats made a point of their “no” votes for re-appointment, the Democratic conference in the end shored up whatever weak support in the Assembly there was for re-appointment.
“The process has been a joint session of the Legislature, it is a joint session of the Legislature and I think you saw it play out today,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters following the vote. “The Assembly could not elect regents on their own. Senators voted with members of the Assembly to provide the majority.”
As for supporting the re-appointment of incumbents, Silver said they deserved to remain on the board given their experience.
“They have been around, they listen, and that is the key thing,” he said.
Mar 11th - 11:48 am
The western New York teacher who sat on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s panel to recommend changes to Common Core implementation dissented on Tuesday from the final product.
In a statement released by the statewide teachers union, East Aurora High School teacher Todd Hathaway graded the final report an “incomplete.”
“The report – and the process that produced it — is incomplete. The report was released suddenly, even as final comments were still being solicited. I had indicated the likelihood I would dissent and not allow the report to be spun as “consensus.” Nevertheless, the report was issued with my name attached. I am very concerned that the report tries to make it seem like all the discussion had been completed. In fact, the Executive Office repeatedly ignored my concerns and the legitimate concerns of others about inappropriate state testing, the misuse of invalid tests for evaluations and the lack of transparency in state testing. The result is that some of the report’s conclusions and suggestions do not hold up to scrutiny. I wouldn’t accept this kind of work from my students and I don’t accept it here.”
The report, released Monday evening, addressed concerns about student privacy, student assessment and teacher training, but did not touch on the teacher evaluation law that was approved last year.
Cuomo in a radio interview on The Capitol Pressroom Tuesday morning shrugged off the dissent from Hathaway.
“I don’t see anyway there could be consensus,” Cuomo said.
Mar 10th - 6:50 pm
A draft report from a panel obtained by Capital Tonight making recommendations for fixes to Common Core implementation focuses heavily on teacher training, parental involvement and limits on testing, especially for young students.
Update: The full report was released Monday evening; It’s below.
“The flawed implementation of the Common Core curriculum has resulted in frustration, anxiety, and confusion for children and parents,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “It is in everyone’s best interest to have high, real world standards for learning and to support the Common Core curriculum, but we need to make sure that our students are not unfairly harmed by its implementation. The recommendations released by the Common Core Implementation Panel today seek to achieve this goal. These recommendations would ensure that State Common Core test results in grades 3-8 will not appear on students’ permanent records, reduce over-testing, and halt the State Education Department’s data initiative with inBloom. The panel does not make any recommendation to halt or slow teacher evaluations. I will review these recommendations with the Senate and the Assembly.”
The report would also recommend the state end its relationship with the controversial data collection company inBloom — a move that is a component of a broader push to address privacy concerns.
Ken Lovett of The Daily News had an outline of the recommendations earlier.
The recommendations aimed at students include:
- A ban on standardized “bubble tests” for children in pre-K through second grade
- Assurances the results of state assessments in English and math for students in grades 3 through 8 will not be used against students and not appear on permanent records
- The amount of time that can be used for standardized testing and test preparation would be capped.
School districts would also have an easier time to eliminate any “unnecessary” testing.
There are additional recommendations that are aimed at teacher training as well.
The report supports local professional development opportunities for teachers as well as a plan that would “showcase” examples of successful implementation in a local area. Schools successfully implementing Common Core would be highlighted for other local teachers and principals.
At the same time, there are recommendations in the report to ensure rapid deployment of resources to teachers. That includes the state significantly increasing the number of assessment questions released following Common Core tests for increased transparency.
In addition to ending the inBloom relationship, the report backs a “Parents Bill of Rights for Data Privacy” that would outline what data is being collected by the state and school district officials.
Mar 10th - 5:25 pm
Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan on Monday signaled growing frustration among Senate Republicans over the re-appointment of four members of the Board of Regents.
The vote to re-appoint four members up for re-election, to be held Tuesday, is expected to be close in the Assembly, potentially throwing the decision to the Senate.
At issue is New York not applying for a waiver from the federal government for Common Core standards.
The issue was compounded when California applied for, and received a waiver for Common Core testing.
“In the last three days it’s just added to the angst and frustration and I don’t see that changing,” he said. “That has made our colleagues even more aggravated.”
He added the California waiver should be a “clarion wake up call” for the Regents.
“In my estimation the state of New York should aggressively pursue a waiver right now,” he said.
Still, some lawmakers have quietly suggested the replacements for the Regents aren’t especially qualified to replace those seeking re-appointment.
One candidate, for example, is a spiritual life coach who runs a for-profit diet consultancy.
Members of the Assembly in particular emerged from the marathon interview sessions with prospective Regents members to say they were underwhelmed by the alternative choices.
Still, the vote to re-appoint is still expected to be close.
Asked if he would vote to re-appoint the four up for re-election, Flanagan indicated a “yes” vote will be hard for him to do.
“I think I would have great difficulty doing that right now,” he said.
The vote comes after the Democratic-led Assembly approved a bill that would delay certain provisions of Common Core standards.
The bill is yet to be taken up in the Senate, led by Republicans and a breakaway conference of Democrats.
The state Department of Education has come under fire for its handling of the implementation of Common Core, a set of federal education standards the state adopted.
The Board of Regents approved a set of changes in February to Common Core, but that did little to sway lawmakers.
“There have been positive steps in the regents action plan, but while these people have extensive backgrounds and a wealth of experience, I think there’s a very strong feeling that not enough has been done,” Flanagan said.
Republicans in the Senate are expected to end a long-standing boycott of not attending new Regents votes — a sign of just how much Common Core implementation has spurred state lawmakers over the last several months.
On Monday afternoon, Sen. James Seward, a central New York Republican, announced in a statement he would vote against re-appointment.
“The shoddy implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards along with the Board of Regents’ increased reliance on high-stakes tests have clearly damaged our educational system in New York State. Parents, teachers, and school administrators alike have voiced their well-warranted concerns with the tense situation these new polices have created in our classrooms,” Seward said. “With those concerns in mind, I will be voting to deny reappointment to the four Board of Regents members up for re-election. I simply cannot reward these individuals for their failures. I hope that the remaining board members, and any new candidates, pay attention to this vote and take immediate steps to reverse course on Common Core and focus on a more productive approach to enriching student achievement.”
Mar 4th - 10:56 am
The Democratic led Assembly is considering a bill that would delay the implementation of the Common Core standards for both teacher evaluations and student assessment until 2016. The bill comes after parents and teachers alike have maligned the state’s roll out of the standards.
“I think the speaker and the members of the Assembly feel the need to address the concerns of the people we’ve heard from throughout our districts and this bill is a working document to do that,” said Assembly Education Chairwoman Cathy Nolan
The measure also tackles issues with student privacy, and pushes back the planned sharing of student data with a third party vendor from September 2014 to July 2015.
“The bill incorporates the bill that we passed last year that would postpone any collection of this data for a long time, and I think sets up a number of parameters and guidelines for the state Education Department and will protect privacy for students and families,” Nolan said.
Assembly lawmakers met privately to discuss the measure after Monday’s legislative session. We caught up with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver before he huddled with lawmakers.
“We’re going to take it up in conference and put it out. But we’re just thinking what we’ve always said: The implementation was flawed, people just weren’t ready for it. Students weren’t ready for it, teachers weren’t ready for it,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.
The measure’s final passage in the Assembly is likely, it has not been introduced yet in Senate. Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan was non-committal about the bill’s chances in his chamber.
“Not so sure there’s a lot of people saying slow down the implementation, they’re just saying it should be done better, far better than it’s been done right now,” Flanagan said. .
Also on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled an issued ad paid for by his campaign urging voters to support his own Common Core proposal.
While the state’s new Common Core curriculum is heading in the right direction, testing on it is premature. It creates anxiety and it’s just unfair. And their scores should not be counted against them.
But Cuomo’s vision for Common Core changes is different. He wants an education panel to make recommendations and is staunchly opposed to any changes to the teacher evaluation law.-
Mar 3rd - 4:42 pm
Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan was non-committal on whether his chamber would take up the Assembly bill to delay for two years the implementation of the Common Core standards.
Flanagan indicated the concerns of the Senate are necessarily the speed of implementation, but that it should simply have been done better.
“The real challenge comes as how do you define what a delay is? Do you really want to delay the implementation? I think what people are talking about is the timely and proper implementation of Common Core. Do we have the modules? Do teachers have the tools? Are students being ex[posed to all the appropriate information before they’re examined?”
The Assembly bill would delay Common Core’s implementation for teacher evaluations and student assessment, while addressing concerns lawmakers, parents and teachers have raised about the sharing of student data.
“Not so sure there’s a lot of people saying slow down the implementation, they’re just saying it should be done better — far better than it’s being done now,” Flanagan said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s panel to recommend changes to the Common Core roll out will meet on Tuesday, Flanagan said.
Cuomo wants to slow the implementation, but opposes any effort to infringe on a teacher evaluation law he championed and was approved last year.
It remains to be seen whether the bill ultimately is sponsored by someone in the majority coalition that controls the Senate.
“We’re obviously taking a look at it right now. There’s a lot of discussion, conversation,” Flanagan said.
Mar 3rd - 12:22 pm
A bill that would delay the implementation of the Common Core standards for teacher evaluations and student assessment is not expected to be voted on later today, an Assembly official said.
The Democratic conference is expected to meet and discuss the bill late this afternoon, around 5 p.m.
The legislation would delay the broad strokes of Common Core implementation, including testing students in grades three through eight, and prohibit the standards from being used to evaluate student and teacher performance until 2016.
The measure also calls for moratorium until July 2015 of the implementation of the online-data portal that is aimed at collecting student information, which was set to begin in September of this year.
The bill is yet to have a Senate sponsor.
But the legislation comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created his own education panel to make legislative recommendations for changes to Common Core implementation, which he wants voted on by the end of the legislative session, due to conclude in June.
Parents and teachers unions have complained the state’s roll out of Common Core, handled by the state Education Department, was poorly planned and implemented too swiftly with an over-emphasis on testing.
The Board of Regents this month approved some changes to the Common Core roll out that would slow the implementation.
Mar 3rd - 12:21 pm
ICYMI, here’s the lead item today’s Morning Memo:
The New York City-based war over charter schools will reach a head in Albany tomorrow, as hundreds from either side descend on the state Capitol for dueling rallies.
On one side: Former NYC Councilwoman and charter school operator Eva Moskowitz, who is furious with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for reversing co-location decisions by his predecessor, former Mayor Bloomberg, that would have allowed for the expansion of three schools operated by her Success Academy network.
Moskowitz has cancelled school tomorrow at all 22 of her charters, and plans to bus angry parents, students and teachers to Albany to protest de Blasio’s decision.
On the other side: De Blasio and his allies, who had already planned to be in Albany Tuesday to rally for his ever-more-out-of-reach plan to let the city tax wealthy residents to expand pre-K and after school programs in the five boroughs. De Blasio last week fanned the flames still further by calling Moskowitz’s rally a “sideshow,” insisting he would not be deterred by her plans.
There is a belief among de Blasio backers that that Moskowitz has launched her competing rally with the tacit approval – if not outright encouragement – of the pro-charter Cuomo administration, which is at odds with the mayor over pre-K funding.
Just last week, Cuomo was praising the charter school movement and its departed “champion” (Bloomberg), while refusing to weigh in directly on the co-location argument.
A Cuomo spokesman did not return an email seeking comment Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos told the NY Post he’s prepared to fight on behalf of charter schools during the ongoing budget negotiations with Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and IDC Leader Jeff Klein.
Skelos called de Blasio’s co-location decision “unconscionable.” He also expressed concern about the administration’s effort to redirect a $210 million construction fund used to build space for charter schools toward pre-K, and its plans to charge better-financed charter schools rent.
Not everyone in the charter community is at war with de Blasio. Twenty-three charter organizations have signed onto a Feb. 27 statement calling Moskowitz’s competing rally “not the right approach at this time,” and refusing to participate.
“Tuesday is not a day to be divided,” the letter reads. “Those rallying in Albany next week should stand together with the city and advocate – side by side – for our children, particularly the most underserved, and all of whom are public school students.”